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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