A spending cut may jeopardize a 2022 goal to eliminate nuclear warheads now slated for dismantlement, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
The Obama administration's fiscal 2015 budget request would reduce spending on nuclear-arms dismantlement from a current enacted level of $54.3 million to $30 million in the coming funding cycle, according to the Saturday report. A planning paper says Washington will revamp its current strategy to scrap atomic arms that were retired from the arsenal prior to 2009.
A spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the nuclear-arms disassembly effort, verified that the agency had said it would "consider" pushing back the 2022 cutoff date. It communicated its intention in a February statement to the congressional Government Accountability Office.
NNSA officials, though, said they are still dedicated to eliminating the retired arms by 2022.
Stephen Young, an issue expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the spending plan "claims that they can still achieve the 2022 goal, but only if there are significant future increases in funding for dismantling warheads."
The budget proposal calls for a 40 percent spending reduction at the Pantex Plant in Texas, which carries out the first steps in taking apart retired U.S. nuclear weapons.
Obama officials are also pushing for a funding decrease at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, where disassembly funds could fall from $20.4 million to $11.4 million in the next fiscal year, NNSA spokesman Steven Wyatt said.
Wyatt added that the funding changes are not expected to produce "major job impacts" at either facility.