Description and Current Mission
There are three major nuclear weapons laboratories in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) nuclear weapons complex, Los Alamos (LANL), Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). LANL was, of course, the birthplace of atomic weapons during the WWII years, while Livermore was founded in 1952 to develop the thermonuclear H-Bomb.
Sandia is a direct descendent of the Manhattan Project’s engineering division that turned the devices into deployable weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In July 1945, the forerunner of Sandia Laboratory, known as Los Alamos’ ‘Z’ Division, was established at what is now Kirtland Air Force Base on the east edge of Albuquerque to handle nonnuclear components weapons development, testing, and bomb assembly for the Manhattan Project. Sandia became a separate lab in 1949.
Sandia is the most diverse of the three nuclear weapons labs. Long operated by the Sandia Corporation, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, it is now managed by Honeywell’s NTESS. All three directors of the nuclear weapons labs have an inherent conflict-of-interest in that they also act as the presidents of the executive boards of the for-profit limited liability corporations running the labs.