|The bomb stewards have let a large fraction of the present stockpile of weapons become obsolete
"...we have a long ways to go to restore some of the capabilities we need later this decade to be able to refurbish ... the W-76 warhead for Trident, elements of our air-delivered systems, our cruise missile systems, the W-80 warhead for the air-launched cruise missile and the advanced cruise missile, and also some of our air-dropped bombs, the B-61 in particular."
Here is the crux;
"We will need to establish and recover production capabilities in order to be able to refurbish ... the stockpile later on this decade, and that's one of our key challenges in the future."
The source is a transcript of Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2002 - 3:05 p.m. EST meeting.
Here is my route to the info.
Overview of late 2001 nuclear policy review, UNCLASS excepts provided.
A transcript of the presentation given by J.D. Crouch, ASD ISP Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2002 - 3:05 p.m. EST
The Q&A after the presentation contains the little gems which explain why the US and UK are building new bombs.
I'll quote a couple here;
"Q: Yeah. Mr. Harvey [US-Dept.of Energy], what is the status of the stockpile stewardship program, and is that going to change after the NPR is approved?
Harvey: We have two main responsibilities for the -- to the Department of Defense. One is we have to assure that the stockpile is safe and reliable. And two, we have to make sure that we respond to any requirements that the Department of Defense has with regard to modifications, refurbishments, et cetera, of nuclear warhead systems.
We have a very aggressive stockpile stewardship program designed to surveil the nuclear weapons stockpile, to be able to assess and fix problems on a time scale relevant to DOD needs. We -- as part of that stockpile stewardship program, we intend to do this -- we feel confident we can do this without nuclear testing, but there are no guarantees. We need to retain, as part of stockpile stewardship, an ability to, if the president so decides in response to a possible problem in the stockpile that can't be fixed without testing, that we have to be able to be prepared to carry out a test, and we maintain the readiness to do so. Currently, that readiness is 24 to 36 months.
That's a key element of stockpile stewardship.
In addition, with regard to the program itself, we have a long ways to go to restore some of the capabilities we need later this decade to be able to refurbish elements of the stockpile in connection with our sustaining the force levels that J.D. talked about earlier, including elements of our SLBM force, the W-76 warhead for Trident, elements of our air-delivered systems, our cruise missile systems, the W-80 warhead for the air-launched cruise missile and the advanced cruise missile, and also some of our air-dropped bombs, the B-61 in particular. We will need to establish and recover production capabilities in order to be able to refurbish that element of the stockpile later on this decade, and that's one of our key challenges in the future. "
"Q: Thank you. I think this is a question for Mr. Harvey [US-Dept.of Energy]. What do you see our tritium supply looking like over the next 10 years, taking into account that we're going to be -- a lot of these weapons are going to be deactivated?
"Harvey[US-DoE]: We're currently reestablishing a capability to produce tritium. For the time being, given the dramatic reductions over the past 10 years of weapons moving from the active to the inactive stockpile -- that is, weapons that don't require tritium -- we've been able to free up quite a bit of tritium to be able to sustain ourselves until we can resume production. We're currently scheduled to resume production sometime later on this decade, and I believe we're in good shape with regard to being able to support the DOD requirements.
Q: Does that mean that you won't be needing TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority] to produce any tritium? And does it also mean we won't have to import any [from Allies over the pond]?
Harvey [US-DoE]: Our approach to producing tritium is to use a commercial light-water reactor, the TVA reactor approach. And no, we -- that is our approach to producing it, and that's the capability that we'll require in the future. "