Extra Extra! An update on something we wrote about earlier in the week (see below). We’re thrilled to announce that in the final economic stimulus bill that was just released by a Congressional committee, funding for the nuclear weapons infrastructure was removed! The Council’s supporters and other activists across the country flooded congressional offices with requests to cut this money. The Council also sent letters and pressured Congress to cut these funds. Many Senators and Representatives did not even know this funding existed before we (and our supporters) alerted them to it.
As Joe Cirincione rightfully said, ” chalk one up for the good guys.”
Here’s our initial post on this story earlier this week:
Don’t think that nuclear weapons has anything to do with the economic stimulus package? Think again. In the bill that’s being debated on Capitol Hill right now, there is over $1 billion in funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). At a time when America need jobs, not nukes, leaders in the arms control community — including the Council’s Executive Director John Isaacs — are calling for the funding to be stripped. Below is a copy of the letter signed by over 20 arms control experts.
We write to express concern over the $1 billion proposed for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in S.336, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With Congress seeking to make substantial cuts in the total price tag of the bill, we strongly urge you to eliminate the $1 billion for NNSA. This money is not a cost effective way of accomplishing S.336’s primary stated goals of creating jobs, restoring economic growth and strengthening America’s middle class. Moreover, it would be premature to make major investments in NNSA’s nuclear weapons research and production infrastructure, which the agency proposes to revitalize through “Complex Transformation.” NNSA has a long history of cost overruns and poor management, and is one of the least likely agencies to give taxpayers a sound return on their investment when economic stimulus is so vitally needed. Finally, it is unlikely that this money will go towards preventing terrorism.
Congress has repeatedly noted that the United States lacks clear nuclear weapons policies. Adding $1 billion to NNSA’s $9 billion budget is an 11% increase, a poor investment when there is such a policy vacuum. The 2008 Defense Authorization Act requires that the Obama Administration complete a nuclear posture and policy review. Until the Obama Administration addresses such issues as posture, force structure, size and scope of the nuclear complex, it would be premature to make any decisions about what infrastructure projects are needed. Conversely, making major investments in the complex could potentially prejudice the final outcome of any posture review that the Obama Administration conducts.
Since its inception in 1999, the NNSA has continually experienced significant cost overruns and oversight problems. According to several GAO reports, NNSA had not been fully effective in managing its safeguards and security program. The reports found that there was weakness in security culture, organization, staffing and training. Additionally, two of NNSA’s major projects, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility, “experienced major delays and cost overruns because of problems with project management and are still not complete.” The NIF alone, originally expected to cost approximately $2.1 billion upon its completion in 2002, is still not operational and is expected to cost more than $3 billion. While this money is likely not going to these projects, NNSA should not be rewarded for their poor track record with an additional $1 billion.
Senators should also realize that these funds are unlikely to go towards preventing nuclear terrorism, as DOE spends at least 67 percent of its budget on weapons. The Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) did not mention using any potential stimulus money for securing the incredibly vulnerable highly enriched uranium, which only a few years ago was a priority security issue that could not be addressed due to a lack of funding. Also, these funds will not likely go towards expediting the removal of bomb-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Recent security tests failure demonstrate that the Lab’s nuclear materials pose a significant risk to its surrounding residential community.
With Congress seeking to make substantial cuts in the total price tag of the bill, we strongly urge you to eliminate the $1 billion for NNSA. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Should you have any questions, please contact:
Alliance For Nuclear Accountability
National Organization Signatures
Project On Government Oversight
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Ambassador Robert Grey
Bipartisan Security Group
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
Americans for Democratic Action, Inc.
Arms and Security Initiative, New America Foundation
Mark W. Harrison
Director, Peace with Justice Program
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
Council for a Livable World
Director of Government Affairs
Coordinator Arms Control Advocacy Collaborative
Paul Kawika Martin
Organizing, Political and PAC Director
Peace Action & Peace Action Education Fund
National Security Director
American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation
Women’s Action for New Directions
Paul F. Walker, Ph.D.
Director, Security and Sustainability
Global Green USA
Dr. Peter Wilk
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
Snake River Alliance, Idaho
Nuke Watch, New Mexico
Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions
Tri-Valley CAREs, California
Acting for a Greener World
Nuclear Policy Advisor, Utah
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Colorado
Green Party of Utah