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. . 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".