National Nuclear Security Administration

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), established by Congress in 2000, is a "semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear energy. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad." [1]

The NNSA "manage[d] the country's nuclear weapons complex" and was headed by Gen. John A. Gordon, its first administrator.[2]

Workload Projection 2002

In a February 19, 2002, announcement published in The Washington Post, it was stated that the "National Nuclear Security Administration workload, at least for the next 10 years, is overwhelmingly devoted to refurbishing nuclear warheads for the land-based Minuteman III ICBM, the sub-launched Trident SLBM, the air-launched cruise missile and versions of the B-61 nuclear bomb. The one new warhead planned for dismantlement is the W-62, the original warhead on the first 500 Minuteman III missiles, but disassembly of those warheads is not expected to begin until late in this decade, Gordon said.

"To support this workload, the Nuclear Posture Review calls for almost doubling the capacity of the Nuclear Security Administration's Pantex plant outside Amarillo, Tex., to handle 600 warheads a year, up from today's 350, according to a report issued last week by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"According to the council's report, the posture review also calls for a new land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to be operational in 2020, a new sub-launched ballistic missile and new strategic submarine by 2030 and a new heavy bomber by 2040.

"Gordon said the review calls for accelerating work on development of a new plant to produce plutonium pits, the part of a thermonuclear weapon whose atomic explosion acts as a trigger mechanism.

"In addition, Gordon said, there would be an expansion and modernization of the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge, Tenn., which handles highly enriched uranium as well as the other radioactive materials for thermonuclear weapons. An additional $15 million has been allocated to prepare the Nevada Test Site to resume testing within a year's time, although Gordon said the George Walker Bush administration still supports the moratorium on underground testing."

Leadership (2005)

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