Analyst Warns of US Fissile Fizzle

The US nuclear industrial base has atrophied to the point that its ability to regenerate, let alone develop, a modern warhead is questionable, asserted Tom Scheber, vice president of the National Institute for Public Policy in Fairfax, Va. “Since the end of the Cold War, we’ve tried to maintain a passive approach to sustaining the national nuclear capability,” he said during a presentation at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. But this approach has created vulnerabilities, he said, citing the example of a warhead life-extension program at the government’s facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. “They still had the plan in place, but couldn’t make it work,” he explained, noting that Oak Ridge officials had to re-hire long-retired experts, spending nearly $60 million and seven years in all simply to replicate 1970s-era material and capabilities. Scheber argued that the US must consider research, development, and even limited production to prevent further atrophy. (Heritage event webpage, including video of Nov. 10 event.)