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Nuclear Labs Leader Concerned About Budget Cuts

Sandia National Laboratories' leader said the organization's basic nuclear work could be delayed and cost more because of "sequestration" budget cuts and other crimps on federal spending, according to the Albuquerque Business First newspaper.

Paul Hommert, president and director of Sandia, visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to testify before a House Armed Services Committee panel about nuclear-weapons modernization and the B-61 nuclear bomb life-extension program. In testimony to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, he said the labs -- funded by the Energy Department's semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration -- are working under a fiscal 2014 allocation that is 23 percent below their desired 2014 requirement.

Though Hommert he was optimistic about Sandia scientists meeting technical requirements, he reportedly said: "With respect to budgetary changes, I cannot be as sanguine."

"Obviously, unless addressed, budgetary changes of this magnitude will have significant schedule impact," he said.

“I fully recognize the fiscal environment in which we are operating," he added. "However, my experience deeply reminds me that nuclear weapons are the last place for half measures or corner cutting."

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