Bush Administration Requests $320 million in Supplemental Funding
for DOE Stockpile Stewardship and Environmental Cleanup
Bush Administration Considering a $2 billion, Six-Year Plan to
Improve and Renovate Stockpile Stewardship Facilities
In a supplemental budget request to Congress, the Bush
administration asked for $140 million for U.S. nuclear weapons, called the
Stockpile Stewardship Program. The administration also asked for $180
million for environmental cleanup at the Department of Energy (or DOE)
sites. According to Senator Domenici, some of this money could be used at
the DOE's nuclear waste dump located near Carlsbad, New Mexico, called the
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
At the same time, 16 American scientists and security experts urged
President Bush to reduce the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal by 90%, to 1,000
warheads. The U.S. currently has 10,500 nuclear warheads, including 1,670
tactical nuclear warheads remaining from 1991 when former President Bush
deactivated nearly all of the weapons in that category. These tactical
nuclear warheads are located at Air Force bases in Nevada and New Mexico,
at Navy bases in Georgia and Washington, and in a few NATO countries.
In a report written by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the
Federation of American Scientists, and the Natural Resources Defense
Council, the scientists and security experts recommended that U.S. security
would be substantially improved if the U.S. would unilaterally reduce its
nuclear arsenal to a total of 1,000 warheads. Furthermore, they recommend
that the U.S. "declare all warheads above this level to be in excess of its
military needs, move them into storage, and begin dismantling them in a
manner transparent to the international community. To encourage Russia to
reciprocate, the United States could make the endpoint of its dismantlement
process dependent on Russia's response."
President Bush is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir
Putin on June 16 in Slovenia.
The Bush administration is considering a $2 billion, six-year plan
to improve and renovate the nuclear weapons testing facilities, assembly
plants, and laboratories. DOE officials have refused to disclose the
overall cost for improvement and renovation of the Stockpile Stewardship
facilities, but said the first year would cost $300 million, and $500
million annually for several years. This year, DOE is spending $5 billion
to maintain nuclear weapons, which is $1 billion more than originally
estimated. The Bush administration is requesting $5.3 billion for these
activities in fiscal year 2002.
Critics of the Stockpile Stewardship Program oppose the proposed
spending, citing mismanagement and cost overruns, and charge that the
program is intended to design new nuclear weapons.
Robert Civiak, a physicist who worked for 10
years with the White House Office of Management and Budget monitoring
nuclear weapons spending, said the annual cost of the Stockpile Stewardship
Program is probably twice what is needed. "If you want to maintain
existing weapons, then all you need to do is focus on the existing
stockpile program, in which they take apart 10 to 12 weapons a year and fix
problems that they find. They are not focusing on their program. They are
focusing on pushing the envelope on the development of nuclear weapons."
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