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Report details pit options

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By The Staff

Apparently, Jonathan Medalia’s lecture at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Washington two weeks ago was just the appetizer.
This week, the Los Alamos Monitor obtained a 90-page report, titled U.S. Nuclear Weapon Pit Production Options for Congress, written by Medalia, a specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy for the Congressional Research Service in Washington.
Front and center in the report is the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
First a little history — until 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado mass-produced plutonium pits and since then the United States has made at most 11 pits per year.
The report said, “U.S. policy is to maintain existing nuclear weapons. To do this, the Department of Defense states that it needs the Department of Energy (DOE), which maintains U.S. nuclear weapons, to produce 50-80 ppy by 2030.
“While some argue that few if any new pits are needed, at least for decades, this report focuses on options to reach 80 ppy. Pit production involves precisely forming plutonium — a hazardous, radioactive, physically quirky metal. Production requires supporting tasks, such as analytical chemistry (AC), which monitors the chemical composition of plutonium in each pit.”


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