Obama Budget Dramatically Increases Funding for New Nuclear Weapons Production Facilities; Cuts Dismantlement

February 5, 2010

In his April 5, 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama called for a nuclear weapons-free world, for which in part he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Obama proposed in his fiscal year 2011 budget to freeze discretionary domestic spending for three years for programs such as education, nutrition, air traffic control and national parks. In contrast, he dramatically increased funding for new U.S. nuclear weapons production facilities, in part by slashing funding for dismantling nuclear weapons by 40 percent.

Specifically, funding for a new bomb factory at Los Alamos National Laboratory in direct support of manufacturing plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons is proposed to increase 132 percent from $97 million this year to $225 million next year. The proposed bomb factory is called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building Replacement, or CMRR, Project.

Funding for a new Uranium Processing Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is proposed to increase 22 percent from $94 million to $115 million. Costs for both the new plutonium and uranium facilities are expected to triple in the next four years, with the ultimate costs still to be determined. But both are likely to be over $4 billion.

Outside of the federal budget, groundbreaking is expected this Spring on a new $700 million privately-financed plant for production of non-nuclear components, subsidized by Kansas City, Missouri municipal bonds.

These three projects span the spectrum of future U.S. nuclear weapons production, with big increases for new facilities for plutonium, uranium and non-nuclear components. At the same time, the Obama budget proposes to cut operations to dismantle nuclear weapons from $96 million to $58 million, a 40 percent reduction.

Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said, "Obama is preemptively surrendering to the nuclear weapons labs, the for-profit private corporations running those labs, and the two-thirds Senate majority, including Republicans, needed for treaty ratifications. All of these special interests explicitly seek to extract more taxpayer funding for nuclear weapons programs in exchange for ratification of a renewed bilateral arms control treaty with Russia and a long-sought-for Test Ban Treaty."

Coghlan further said, "Obama's new budget begins to give the private corporations running the national labs just that, welfare for warheads that can't be used, while American public needs are not adequately met. I think the stakes have just grown dramatically higher for the all-important Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that begins at the United Nations on May 3, where the U.S. is expected to preach to others to not have nuclear weapons. Given Obama's new nuclear weapons budget, how is the U.S. going to be able to do that with a straight face?"

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