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USA Senate panel concerned about technical problems in nuclear weapons

Senate panel wants probe into nuclear weapons glitches, Roll Call, John M. Donnelly  @johnmdonnelly 18 Sept 19, 

Panel is concerned that problems might reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings that have broader implications. The panel is concerned that recent glitches in atomic weapons may have broader implications, and senators want to get to the bottom of the issue. Separately, a congressional aide familiar with the issue said the problems will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the atomic weapons budget.

“The Committee is concerned that a recent technical challenge demonstrates a lack of systems engineering and highlights a lack of coordination and leadership focus, which in turn jeopardizes successful program execution,” the report says.

The document does not mention any particular programs or provide details on the nature of the technical challenges. But experts on nuclear weapons said the panel is almost certainly referring to problems with two new weapons: a bomb called the B61-12 and a modified submarine-launched warhead called the W-88.

In both those programs, problems with commercially manufactured electrical components have caused months of delays, U.S. government officials have publicly acknowledged.

In another sign of intensifying congressional concern over the programs, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces plans to hold a hearing Sept. 25 on those two programs.

Senate appropriators suggested in their report that they are worried the delays in these programs may reflect fundamental oversight shortcomings and could cause ripple effects in other nuclear initiatives, such as keeping nuclear weapons out of terrorists’ hands, updating warship reactors and modernizing facilities.

The investigation must find causes and solutions, the panel said, and it must “ensure the extent of condition is not more widespread than currently reported.”………..

September 19, 2019 - Posted by | safety, USA, weapons and war

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