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Replacement warhead program poses challenges for weapons complex

An independent study group, convened by AAASs Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy, has issued a report on the proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) and its role in the future U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Bruce Tarter, head of the study group and a former director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will discuss the report in a teleconference with reporters at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, 24 April.

All details from the teleconference will remain under embargo until 11:00 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, 24 April, 2007. Dial-in numbers: Toll Free 1-800-619-7628 Toll Number for International -- 1-210-234-0019. Leader Name: Ben Somers, passcode: AAAS. (Participants are requested to RSVP to Benjamin Somers prior to the teleconference at bsomers@aaas.org or 202-326-6414.)

The panel concluded that most of the anticipated benefits of the proposed RRW program -- more easily maintained nuclear weapons with enhanced performance margins, improved safety and security properties, and greater ease of manufacture -- would occur in the long term subsequent to modernization of the weapons production complex.

However, the panel noted that the next one to two decades will be a very challenging period for the nuclear weapons program as it simultaneously undertakes construction at many sites, maintenance and refurbishment of existing weapons, and potentially the building of RRWs.

For example the first RRW is provisionally scheduled for delivery in 2012 using the existing production complex which will require a greatly enhanced capability for the manufacture of plutonium pits, or triggers, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In addition, certification of both the method and the design for the first RRW will still need to go through a rigorous implementation and demonstration process.

In addition to Tarter, the study group included other former nuclear weapons La
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Contact: Earl Lane
elane@aaas.org
202-326-6431
American Association for the Advancement of Science
24-Apr-2007


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