Friday, March 02, 2007


Joint statement on the Reliable Replacement Warhead Announcement

[Read it and weep, LANL. Read it and weep, America?]

March 2, 2007

Joint statement on the Reliable Replacement Warhead Announcement

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) today issued the following statement:

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced an acquisition and development strategy for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW.) The design by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories was selected as the initial baseline. Livermore and Sandia will provide the design leadership for this development project. All three laboratories, including Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. nuclear weapons production complex, will work together as an integrated NNSA Project Team.

Development of the integrated weapons system is under the overall leadership of the Navy’s Strategic Systems Program.

Today’s announcement is an important first step in the RRW program that will enable a sustainable nuclear deterrent for our nation. The laboratories have been engaged in a feasibility study for the last two years to determine an initial RRW design based on NNSA and the U.S. Department of Defense criteria. We support this acquisition strategy and stand ready to participate in the transformation of the weapons complex.

Michael R. Anastasio, Director, LANL

George H. Miller, Director, LLNL

Thomas O. Hunter, Director, Sandia


And now, from the Santa Fe New Mexican's Andy Lenderman:

LANL Will Have Supporting Role in Livermore Weapon
By Andy Lenderman | The New Mexican, March 2, 2007

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has defeated Los Alamos National Laboratory in a competition to design a new nuclear bomb called the reliable replacement warhead.

Livermore will pair with the Navy to make production plans and budgets for the new warhead, which was picked in part because there's a higher confidence it can be certified without underground nuclear testing. Congress must approve the project before it's actually built.

"The design was based on making sure that we start off the RRW strategy... in a way that is deeply rooted and firmly embedded in test history," agency Administrator Tom D'Agostino said.

Scientists at Los Alamos will be able to provide peer review of the Livermore project, receive training from the Livermore team and could see some of their more innovative features from their proposal developed, officials said.

The Navy will lead the overall effort to develop the plan for the weapon, which will be deployed at sea, according to the agency.

The Los Alamos team had an excellent design, D'Agostino said, and had some "transformational" features.

But one design was more directly related to past underground nuclear test information, he said.

"In essence this was about starting off with what I would call the most conservative approach," D'Agostino said.

Livermore will work on the nuclear part of the weapon. Sandia National Laboratories will cover the non-nuclear parts, and will make sure it's compatible with the Trident submarine-based missile system, the agency reports.

The reliable replacement warhead is basically the cornerstone to modernize the country's nuclear arsenal and the factories and labs that support it.

It also enables scientists from the Cold War to pass on their knowledge to a new generation of designers, engineers and production workers.

On Nov. 20, 2006, the Nuclear Weapons Council endorsed the warhead as a long-term strategy.

It's unclear how much the total cost of the program would be. The president asked for $88.8 million in the 2008 fiscal year budget request to Congress. The total weapons budget request is $6.5 billion, and includes other programs like life-extension programs and stockpile work to maintain and certify weapons, the budget request shows.

Proponents of the program say it's a way to make weapons that are more reliable, more secure from unauthorized use, and easier and less costly to maintain than weapons from the Cold War era. No nuclear explosion tests are planned with the RRW program.

Critics say it's a way to keep the nuclear weapons complex busy, a poor use of tax dollars, and could undercut this country's effort to keep other nations from building nuclear bombs by setting a bad example.

Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group said the decision will likely "further cement" Los Alamos' role to become a plutonium pit production center, despite safety concerns repeatedly cited by federal officials.

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., is a supporter of the program and last year suggested blending the best features from each lab to improve the weapon.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., has questioned the need for the program in light of a recent study which said that pits, the plutonium triggers of nuclear weapons, last at least 85 years, which is decades longer than previously believed.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or


[At last! LANL's RRW team will get some valuable training from LLNL: on what? how to wink the hoods?

Kudos all around:

Thanks, Pete. You've really helped out a lot on this one. Some "wag" (not this "pit bull") has called you Senator "Pit" Dementia (R-NM). You're the "pits," all right!

And "Cement LANL" is the new LASG motto, isn't it?

Finally, is this really what the Navy wanted? We hear by the grapevine that the POG vote on the two designs was 4-2, Los Alamos. But I guess we'll never get NNSA to tell the truth, will we?

--Pat, the Dog

P.S. Have a great weekend, my Livermore "pals." Go for it, Sandia! At least you won't need training: security or otherwise, right?]

The political "fix" is in. From the list of lab directors, it looks to me like 2-1 for Livermore (Anastasio+Miller vs. Hunter).
Or was it 3-0?

Sign me incredulous,

-Son of Oppy
(The term "fix" makes me just a little nervous, Son-of-Oppy. Next time, try to use a more politically correct term, when you talk about "political fixes." Thanks, --Pat.)
Mikey and the other LANS Livermorians must be overjoyed with the recent RRW announcement. After all, they probably plan on moving back to LLNL once they finish their two year mission. That mission seems to involve driving a stake deep into the heart of LANL by crushing staff morale and turning the facility into a Pit Factory.

And to think, we haven't even hit bottom yet. That will occur when the RIFs are announced sometime in FY08 and LANL staff realize, to their horror, that they have no jobs and can't sell their expensive Los Alamos homes.

There is a good reason why the majority of the LANS executive staff never bought homes on the Hill. These guys are "renters", and everyone knows how "renters" love to trash the stuff they never intend to own.
Mikey stabbed us in the back.

Before long we will be lamenting the departure of Nanos.
"Lamenting Nanos"? Has the deep wound in LANL's back healed up already? Nanos made LANS inevitable. That was his secret mission. Privatization.
Here is more on D'Agostino's view of the "competition" (read "political fix"):

"Both of the labs developed proposals and at one point there was discussion to combine the designs into a single program. But that was rejected and D'Agostino made clear Friday the program would be Livermore's to develop."

And then, with regard to Livermore's backward-looking design:

""The bottom line is we're returning to what we used to do in the Cold War years. That's the message to the world," said Hans Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project of the Federation of American Scientists."

You can read more at:
"--Pat, the Dog

P.S. Have a great weekend, my Livermore "pals." Go for it, Sandia! At least you won't need training: security or otherwise, right?]"

Sandia has always stood by the side to wait for the LANL/LLNL clawing contest to end; then spend excess money doing their thing. Peer review anyone?
Well, as an embarrassed LANL RRW team member, I believe our task should become to do all that we can to kill this program we (far more than LLNL) created. Joe Martz and John Pedicini took the high road throughout and sold this program. Turns out, the United States of America now values lies and dishonesty over truth and ideas. What a shame. The Nation loses on all accounts with this decision. The sooner the Navy scuttles this, the better. The Navy needs nothing that LLNL proposed! The Navy despises the snake-oil salesman from the mistake by the bay. Why oh why Mr. D’Agostino would you shove something up the ___ of the customer that they do not need or want? Perhaps the only good that can now come out of RRW is the death of NNSA. That assumes that Congress has anymore integrity than NNSA. America, you will be wasting your tax dollars with the RRW proposed by LLNL. They cannot do it, they do not know how to work with the Navy, and their design is nothing more than a relic of the past. The Nation needs Safety and Security in its arsenal. That is what LANL offered.

For some more one sided reading, check out:

Here are a few tidbits:

"I'm personally humbled by this. It's a huge responsibility," said Goodwin. "I look forward to serving the Navy and getting their weapon out for them."

Nobody should trust Bruce Goodwin and I guarantee you the Navy does not and never will.

“But weapons lab executives and federal officials say replicating the bombs' Cold War parts is expensive and that at least one component of the bombs is aging faster than anyone can replace -- the designers themselves. The RRWs are intended to help train a new generation of weapons scientists and engineers. “

No kidding, especially at LANL.

"What I really expect is some young Los Alamos scientists and engineers will be involved in the development work with Livermore directly, whether they are assigned to Livermore directly or will be flying there will be something the three lab directors will be working on," said Thomas D'Agostino, acting chief of the national Nuclear Security Administration. "

Don’t count on it. I think you have rubbed enough salt in the wound. Now you want us to go help the deceitful and incapable clowns from Brand X. What business school teaches this idea?

“During the Cold War, Livermore lab's designers were known for bleeding-edge bomb designs packed so full of bombs and whistles that the uniformed military more often went shopping with more conservative Los Alamos. But for the RRW, Livermore's designers dug up a bomb from the early 1980s that possessed every available safety feature of the time and through a series of nuclear explosions was proven to be highly robust. The bomb never was built because its weapons system was canceled.
Unlike Los Alamos' RRW design, which was a compendium of new-fangled features that had been tested but not together, Livermore's bomb was hardly new at all, but recycled from the Cold War.”

This writing is of the same caliber as the LLNL design.

Signing off once and for all

Anon :(
While some in Washington may critize laboratory staff for arrogance, that "arrogance" is based on sound technical judgements, honed by years of experience by scientistst and engineers truly dedicated to serving the Nation. Yesterday's decision on RRW is nothing more than another demonstration, as if the Nation needs another, of the supreme political arrogance by the Bush Administration, this time carried out by federal bureaucrats at "work" in the Forrestal building. Seems all very Nixonion.
So I guess D’Agostino announced the Livermore contract bid while he was at it:

"What I really expect is some young Los Alamos scientists and engineers will be involved in the development work with Livermore directly, whether they are assigned to Livermore directly or will be flying there will be something the three lab directors will be working on," said Thomas D'Agostino, acting chief of the national Nuclear Security Administration. "

D’agostino can only propose to assign LANL employees directly to LLNL if we work for the same corporate entity. So I guess the next shoe is the LINS wins LLNL, and surprise! LANS and LINS engage in a corporate merger. Then not only are LANL employees “at-will” but we can be transferred to another corporate location at will.

That is, if any of us arrogant butt-head cow-punchers has anything to offer such an elite institution as the Braggers By The Bay.
In the '72 Olympic basketball game between the U.S. and the USSR the officials made the teams keep replaying the end until the result was to their liking.

In this "competition" NNSA didn't even bother with that formality. Just a summary decision with no technical basis.
To the 7:09 am poster...

LANS and LLNS (Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC) are not the same corporate entity. Battelle Memorial and Texas A&M are part of LLNS but not LANS. Also UC Regent Chairman Parsky, during a visit to LLNL last year, hinted that UC would be the controlling voice in LLNS, where LANS is 50/50 between UC and Bechtel. This may be due to the slight differences in the scoring of the bids called out in the RFPs for LANL and LLNL. Out of a total of 1000 points in the bid scoring scale, science and technology areas were assigned 650 points in the LANL RFP and 675 points in the LLNL RFP.
That weasel Anastasio; can't believe he signed this joint release. He'll be back to LLNL as soon as the dust settles.
Not to go against the usual tide of fatalism, paranoia and political naivete that reigns supreme here but isn't it just possible that this decision viewed over the longer term actually benefits LANL. To explain: RRW has no strong support in Congress. A lot of moderates in both parties are sitting the fence on the issue right now, and frankly the latest reports from JASON and Tarter's AAAS committee have not brought anyone into the RRW camp. Choosing a truly ``transformational'' RRW design could very well have been the death knell for the program. Choosing an already tested design eliminates one very large potential objection to the program that could have united politicians across most of the ideological spectrum. Instead, RRW stands a better chance of surviving as a program, and LANL stands a better chance of prevailing in future competitions that Domenici surely will fund. So you can whine -- or thank cooler, more strategic heads for not killing the goose.
3/04/2007 1:09 PM has made a wise observation. This will give LANL time to ensure that RRW2 does not end up in a trailer park.
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