The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Fiscal Year 2018 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP) describes NNSA’s plans to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and to maintain the scientific and engineering tools, capabilities, and infrastructure that underpin the nuclear security enterprise. The SSMP is a companion to the Prevent, Counter, and Respond: A Strategic Plan to Reduce Global Nuclear Threats report, which outlines NNSA’s equally vital mission to reduce the threats of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. In keeping with our commitment to transparency, updated versions of these reports are published each year.
The U.S. nuclear deterrent has been the cornerstone of the United States’ strategy to keep the American people safe and secure for more than 70 years, as well as a significant contributor to global stability. NNSA, in partnership with the Department of Defense, ensures that the deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st century threats and to reassure our allies and partners.
The uncertain global security environment reaffirms the need to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent. Russia is presently undertaking a wholesale modernization of its nuclear arsenal and enhancing the role of nuclear weapons in its security strategy. China is upgrading and expanding its strategic deterrent in pursuit of an “assured retaliation” capability against the United States. North Korea is developing the means to conduct nuclear attacks against U.S. allies in East Asia, Guam, and the American homeland. Each of these developments underscores the enduring salience of the U.S. nuclear stockpile to deter our adversaries, assure our allies and partners, and maintain strategic stability.
This year’s SSMP describes the substantial level of activity being performed within NNSA and DOE’s national laboratories and production plants to ensure the continued credibility of our nuclear deterrent. This includes three warhead life extension programs (LEPs) and one major warhead alteration (Alt). In particular, this report describes the path to complete production of W76-1 warheads by Fiscal Year (FY) 2019; deliver the first production unit of the B61-12 gravity bomb by FY 2020; deliver the first production unit of the W88 Alt 370 by FY 2020; and achieve a first production unit of the W80-4 warhead by FY 2025.
NNSA is also stepping up actions to repair and recapitalize its aging infrastructure, much of which dates to the Eisenhower era. These infrastructure investments are crucial to ensuring the long-term availability of strategic materials associated with nuclear weapons, including completion of the Uranium Processing Facility by 2025 and reaching the capacity to produce 50 to 80 War Reserve plutonium pits per year by 2030. Providing quality workspace to NNSA’s workforce is also necessary to recruit and retain the world-class scientific and engineering talent on which our nuclear deterrent, and indeed the security of the United States, so greatly depends.
Adequate resources are absolutely essential to execute all of these vital missions and achieve the President’s objectives as described in the National Security Presidential Memorandum, “Rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces.” The annual budget request for NNSA’s Weapons Activities has increased for all but one of the past 8 years, resulting in a total increase of approximately 60 percent since 2010. If adopted by Congress, the FY 2018 budget request will increase funding by $996 million (about 10.8 percent) from the FY 2017 request. A significant portion of the increase would fund the research for multiple LEPs, support the programs in Directed Stockpile Work, and modernize the physical infrastructure of the nuclear security enterprise. As described in this report, significantly increased investment will be needed in FY 2019 and beyond.