The nukemeisters have a plan for your nuclear future (whether you're ready or
not)! Personnel from DOE, Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories
and SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation (a longtime DOE contractor))
have written a report entitled "Managing the Nation's Nuclear Materials: The 2025
Vision for the Department of Energy." "This review was conducted to get a national,
as well as a Departmental, perspective of the future missions of the Department
[DOE}." In it, the authors quickly conclude that the "US policy is to continue
with current missions involving nuclear materials beyond 2025." Sec. 2.0
Toward that end, this report identifies as guiding doctrine that "[n]uclear weapons
will continue indefinitely to play an indispensable role in U.S. national security
policy" and that "[d]ormant elements of the nuclear forces must be reconstituted."
Sec. 5.0 The DOE 2025 Vision states that the "stewardship of nuclear materials
is the companion of a nuclear weapons SBSS [Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship]
program." Sec. 3.0.
Under DOE's future nuclear weapons mission, the report quickly recognizes the
1970 NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) as a controlling document. But what the report
states is that the "NPT recognizes states that exploded nuclear weapons before
January 1967 as nuclear weapons states, namely the US, the United Kingdom, Russia,
France and China. All other member states are recognized as non-nuclear weapons
states." Sec. 18.104.22.168 . What the "vision" conveniently omits is that, pursuant
to NPT Article VI, the nuclear weapons states are mandated by the treaty to enter
into serious negotiations that lead to total nuclear disarmament. This was further
recognized as an "unequivocal commitment" at the year 2000 NPT renewal conference
by all treaty signatories, including the US.
Concerning the future of nuclear materials, the report states: "To maintain a
safe and secure nuclear weapons stockpile, the need for plutonium and uranium
will continue. While there are sufficient stockpiles of both materials, plutonium
will need to be constantly processed and recycled. There may be a need to also
produce uranium in the timeframe shortly after 2025. This eventuality will require
planning for production of HEU [highly enriched uranium] to begin within the 2025
timeframe." Sec. 7.0.
Concomitant with its future nuclear weapons programs, the DOE 2025 Vision regards
the revitalization of the US commercial nuclear industry as being essential to
the future "nuclear materials complex." Toward that end, the report simply assumes
as core assumptions that a "geologic repository provides permanent, safe disposal
for spent fuel, high-level waste (HLW), and immobilized plutonium" (Sec. 1.0)
and "[f]inal disposition for the fuel cycle's back-end, assuring the safe use
of nuclear power" (Sec. 5.0).
Both of these issues are highly controversial. The only HLW repository under consideration
is the Yucca Mountain Site in Nevada. That project, which Nevadans have bitterly
opposed for decades, has seriously questionable scientific justification. The
"final disposition for the fuel cycle's back-end" that the report envisions is
the use of MOX (mixed-oxide plutonium) in commercial reactors. The use of MOX
will entail yet more plutonium transportation, handling and processing, and may
well produce more plutonium than it consumes (after all, plutonium is reactor-produced).
The use of MOX can lead to further proliferation dangers by providing potential
for material diversion and eroding the previous barrier between military and commercial
uses of plutonium.
Finally, as if we didn't already have enough plutonium, the 2025 DOE Vision suggests
that the US reprocess some more plutonium in order to be in a better negotiating
position with cash-strapped Russia. "There is an opportunity to use the Savannah
River Site (SRS) [processing] canyons to process surplus residual plutonium that
is considered separable into weapons-grade plutonium. Using the canyons, the residual
plutonium could be processed into weapons-grade plutonium to increase the US inventory
for negotiations purposes with the Russians." Sec. 6.3.6.
So there you have it, your nuclear future according to the DOE et al. "Managing
the Nation's Nuclear Materials: The
2025 Vision for the Department of Energy".