WASHINGTON – An evolving and uncertain geopolitical landscape calls for the United States to recapitalize its defense plutonium capabilities.  The Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) has certified that the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) recommended alternative for recapitalization of these capabilities is acceptable and represents a resilient and responsive option to meet Department of Defense (DoD) requirements.   

To achieve DoD’s 80 pits per year requirement by 2030, NNSA’s recommended alternative repurposes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce plutonium pits while also maximizing pit production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.  This two-prong approach – with at least 50 pits per year produced at Savannah River and at least 30 pits per year at Los Alamos – is the best way to manage the cost, schedule, and risk of such a vital undertaking.  Furthermore, by maintaining Los Alamos as the Nation’s Plutonium Center of Excellence for Research and Development, the recommended alternative improves the resiliency, flexibility, and redundancy of our Nuclear Security Enterprise by not relying on a single production site. 

NNSA conducted an analysis of alternatives, an engineering assessment, and a workforce analysis by both internal and external experts to develop the recommended alternative. 

The approved plan is the result of effective interagency collaboration between DoD and the Department of Energy’s NNSA.  We share a deep commitment to recapitalizing the capabilities the United States needs to deter its adversaries and assure our allies and partners.  Plutonium pit production is a priority for both of us, and through the NWC, we will regularly coordinate and monitor the progress. 

Additional information can be found in this fact sheet.

Ellen M. Lord is the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. She also serves as the Chair of the NWC.

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty is the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. She is a member of the NWC.