National Security

Nuclear Agency About To Spend About $9.5 Billion To Update Atomic Bombs

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The agency tasked with maintaining America’s nuclear arsenal expects that the next round of weapons modernization will cost roughly $9.5 billion, Defense News reported Wednesday.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) estimates spending $7.6 billion to update the B61 atomic weapon, plus $648 million the agency will transfer from other nuclear program budgets. Along with the Department of Defense’s $1.3 billion contribution to build tail kits — the missile launch systems that guides the bomb from an aircraft to the target — the total cost will be around $9.5 billion.

NNSA’s atomic bomb refurbishment project is part of the government’s plan to extend the life of nuclear weapons built during 1950s and ’60s, which were not intended to last this long. The goal of modernizing the B21 model 12 is to replace larger, more destructive but less accurate B83 bombs built during the Cold War. NNSA expects to complete the modernization project by the year 2020.

The current update of a B61-12 life extension program (LEP) “is the most complex B61-12 activity the nuclear security enterprise has undertaken in more than 20 years,” the NNSA said in a statement. “This weapon plays a critical role in national security and directly supports President Obama’s directive to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, while reducing the size of the nuclear stockpile.”(RELATED: Experts Admit US Nuclear Power Program Way Behind Russia’s)

Obama promised not to develop any new nuclear weapons, or add new capabilities to the nuclear program, and to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and focus on reducing the nuclear dangers of the 21st century,” according to a White House memo in 2010.

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