The cost to protect materials for nuclear bombs from terrorists is rising so high that the Energy Department will need to close some weapons
laboratories, or at least consolidate the weapons fuel that they hold, government officials and outside experts are warning. Security costs threaten
to eat into the budget for building and maintaining warheads, the experts say.
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: May 7, 2005
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the department re-examined potential threats to the 13 laboratories and other plants across the country where it
has what it calls "special nuclear materials," or plutonium and bomb-grade uranium. The department theorized that attackers might not try to steal the
material, but rather fabricate a nuclear bomb on the spot and detonate it.
The reassessments, which included assumptions of a larger attacking force than previously, have led to sharply increased security costs, now $740
million a year and highly likely to rise. The underlying problem, critics say, is that a complex that was set up for the cold war, when the pace of
design and manufacture was quick, is not suited to current needs.
The Project on Government Oversight, a group here that has made a specialty of making critiques of nuclear security, estimated in a study it will
release next week that consolidating the weapons materials could save $2.7 billion over three years.
But, Danielle Brian, executive director of the project, said, "No one so far has looked at the entire complex, and said, 'Why do we still need this?'
In a major speech on laboratory security on May 7, 2004, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said, "We have a responsibility to balance the important
work we do at our facilities, which is often critical to the war on terror, with protecting those very same facilities against the threat of terrorist
Mr. Abraham said the number of sites with special nuclear material had to be reduced "to the absolute minimum, consistent with carrying out our
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I don really know what to say. But should it really matter?
I mean can't the U.S. defend it self without nuclear weapons? And should'nt they want to not use the weapons knowing how much damage they cause?