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The National Nuclear Security Administration further clarified its position on deferring the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility for at least five years.
NNSA spokesperson Josh McConaha issued the following statement: “NNSA has taken steps to ensure the nation has a capabilities-based nuclear security enterprise focused on needs and solutions. We view this constrained budget environment as an additional incentive to ask ourselves how we can re-think the way we’re operating, how we can innovate, and how we can get better.
“To that end, NNSA has decided to adjust our plutonium strategy by deferring construction of the CMRR nuclear facility (CMRR-NF) project at Los Alamos National Laboratory for at least five years. Instead we are focusing on how to ensure our plutonium needs are met by using the capabilities and expertise found at existing facilities. Utilizing existing facilities will allow us to ensure uninterrupted plutonium operations while focusing on other key modernization projects.
“NNSA is fully committed to being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars and doing our part in a time of fiscal austerity. Our decisions related to CMRR-NF are designed to ensure that NNSA is building a capabilities-based enterprise focused on needs and solutions while achieving President Obama’s nuclear security objectives.”
Rep. Jim Hall (R-Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Sandoval Counties) also weighed in.
He said he was disappointed in the administration’s decision.
“I am disappointed that the administration has not seen fit to fund this facility that is necessary for the long-term maintenance and support of our nuclear deterrence capability,” Hall said. “Thankfully, since the end of the cold war, we have been able to greatly reduce the number of deployed warheads. However, I believe this makes maintenance of those remaining all the more important for the credibility of our deterrence.”
Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, said: “I have concerns the administration has not adequately explained to the public this change in policy or how it will affect our national security and LANL’s mission to execute our new START responsibilities.”
Heinrich also pointed out that House Republicans took the first step to cut CMRR last year.
“Based on the spending plan laid out a year ago in support of the administration’s treaty commitment, “full funding” meant $300 million this year and another $300 million next year for the Los Alamos project," he told the Albuquerque Journal. "But House Republicans took the first steps to unravel the deal, voting last year to cut $100 million from the administration’s fiscal year 2012 request for the Los Alamos project.”