Dan Leone is indefatigable in deciphering the DOE/NNSA* budget and congressional hearings on it. He does not disappoint.
He speculates that the cost of repurposing the MOX facility in South Carolina into a pit factory is so enormous that it is impacting the budget for maintenance. Having been the chair of the Buildings and Grounds committee for the Board of Trustees of a small college, I can say that this is a politically easy decision. It’s easy to ignore maintenance until roofs start leaking. DOE goes through these cycles every few years.
Donald Trump denounced the New START Treaty in his first phonecall with Vladimir Putin. Putin brought up the treaty, which is coming up for renewal in 2021, so talks should be starting soon. The treaty limits the numbers of nuclear weapons for Russia and the United States, preventing an arms race. But the treaty was negotiated under Barack Obama, so in Trump’s mind, it is a bad treaty. Read More
Sorry to be depressing, but we need to be aware of how we can lose our democracy, given many of the things that Donald Trump and his administration-to-be have said and done. It’s not an overnight change, but one little thing after another. The best thing is to avoid getting into those little things. More from Masha Gessen, this time on similarities between how Trump is likely to govern and what we see in Vladimir Putin. Read More
Back in April, the Obama administration decided to defund the plant intended to produce mixed uranium-plutonium oxide nuclear reactor fuel (MOX) out of plutonium recovered from decommissioned nuclear weapons. This was part of an agreement struck with Russia in the 1990s to dispose of 34 tons of weapons plutonium. My read in April, and Pavel Podvig’s. Read More
Back in the 1990s, when the United States and Russia were both drawing down their numbers of nuclear weapons, Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed, in a burst of mutual good will, to make 34 tons each of plutonium from those weapons unusable for that purpose. I was among those working hard on how to do that: the ARIES Project at Los Alamos was designing a plant for plutonium weapons pits in, canned plutonium out, with facilities for IAEA inspections. Read More
On April 26, it will be thirty years since the Chernobyl reactor blew up. That event gave the Soviet Union’s new premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, a scare that got him thinking about better ways to run the country. None of that worked out quite as he planned, though. Here’s a good history of the Chernobyl event. Photo from here of the containment now being built for the ruined reactor. Read More
Alexei Arbatov considers the possibilities of nuclear war between Russia and the United States. It sounds like Putin’s “strike first” comment made Arbatov wonder if Putin intended that for nuclear war. He decides not, but, I think, not entirely convincingly. This is one of the issues the United States and Russia need to talk about. Read More