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Lisbeth Gronlund

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About the author: Lisbeth Gronlund is a physicist and co-director of the Global Security Program. She is an expert on technical issues related to U.S. nuclear weapons policy, and new nuclear weapons, space weapons, and ballistic missile defenses. See Lisbeth's full bio.

New U.S. Nuclear Warheads? Politically and Technically, a Bad Idea

The New York Times recently ran an excellent story on the administration’s ambitious plan for the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which includes building new generations of nuclear-armed bombers, missiles, and submarines. But I want to discuss an important issue that the article didn’t mention: The United States also intends to develop and produce new types of nuclear warheads rather than simply refurbishing existing warheads as they age. There are both technical and political reasons why this is a bad idea. Read More

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Los Alamos, Freedom of Speech, and Nuclear Disaster

As every high school student learns, the first amendment to the U.S. constitution guarantees the right to freedom of speech. That’s why government employees have the right to express their opinions as long as they make clear that their opinions do not represent those of their employer.

Apparently some folks at Los Alamos National Laboratory—one of the two labs that design and help maintain U.S. nuclear weapons—missed that day in class. Read More

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John Oliver Tells It Like It Is: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Craziness

On Sunday, John Oliver took a look at U.S. nuclear weapons on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. Irreverent as usual, Oliver pointed out the absurdities and dangers of the bloated U.S. arsenal of 4,800 weapons. Read More

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Garwin the Movie, Reviewed

I was in Washington, D.C., last week to attend the screening of a new documentary, “Garwin.” It features Richard “Dick” Garwin, an eminent physicist on UCS’s board of directors who has worked on an incredible array of technology and public policy issues for more than six decades now. Dick and his wife of 67 years, Lois, were in attendance. Read More

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The U.S. MOX Program: Going, Going, Gone?

The Obama Administration’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2015—released last week—held some good news. The Department of Energy plans to put the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility under construction in South Carolina on “cold standby” while it determines an alternative way to dispose of surplus plutonium from nuclear weapons programs. Read More

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Drugs, Lies, and Nuclear Missiles

You may have seen the recent news reports that 34 of the Air Force officers responsible for operating America’s 450 nuclear-armed missile silos have been suspended for cheating on monthly proficiency tests. There is also an ongoing investigation into illegal drug use on the part of some “missileers.” And that’s not all. Last year 17 officers were removed for safety violations and potential violations in protecting launch codes, and others were twice caught napping with the blast doors open. Read More

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U.S. Planning a Nuclear Weapons Spending Spree

In December 2013, the Congressional Budget Office released an authoritative estimate of how much the United States will spend over the next decade to maintain and upgrade its nuclear arsenal: $355 billion—for an average of $35 billion per year.

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How Many Nuclear Weapons Does the U.S. Have? Don’t Ask Congress…

A fascinating 2-minute video from Global Zero features short surprise interviews with members of Congress, who are asked the simple question: How many nuclear weapons does the U.S. have? Most couldn’t answer the question and resorted to responses like “I don’t have the exact number,” “It’s classified” and “It changes every day.” The two who provided numbers responded with “300” and “more than 15,000.” According to the Global Zero press release, the organization polled more than 70 members of Congress and “99% of then did not know—even roughly speaking—how many nuclear weapons the United States has.” Read More

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The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Positive First Step

Some good news came through over the weekend—Iran agreed to a set of limits on its nuclear power activities that will make it somewhat more difficult for it to develop nuclear weapons. While this agreement (with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) is only for six months, it is intended to be the first step to a “comprehensive solution.” And it is certainly a step in the right direction. Read More

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