From this morning’s Albuquerque Journal:
The Bush administration asked Congress on Monday for the largest nuclear weapons budget in U.S. history.
The Bush administration’s request of $6.9 billion for nuclear weapons work is larger, in inflation-adjusted terms, than the budget reached in 1985 during the peak of the Reagan administration Cold War. That was the previous largest U.S. nuclear weapons budget, according to a Brookings Institution study of U.S. nuclear weapons spending.
My friend and competitor Ian Hoffman did a much better job of sorting out the details:
The Bush administration wants more money for nuclear weapons in 2005, including studies of new or modified hydrogen bombs and, if called upon, the means to conduct nuclear tests faster.
In a year of cutbacks or meager growth for most domestic agencies, the White House is seeking a 5.4 percent increase for the weap-ons arm of the U.S. Energy Department, to $6.6 billion.
Despite bipartisan criticism among House lawmakers last year, the National Nuclear Security Administration signaled Monday that it is asking for more money across-the-board in the modestly expensive, but controversial programs aimed at new and modified H-bomb designs.
An unusual coalition of GOP budget hawks and Democrats gutted several of those programs last year, cutting in half requests for speeding nuclear testing, if ordered by the president, and for a massive nuclear “bunker buster” known as the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator.
In the case of the bunker buster, the administration was forced to shut down work on one of two competing nuclear-weapons designs and devote all of its bunker-buster research to a single bomb, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s B-83.
Now the Bush administration is reviving both ideas, seeking a 25 percent increase in test readiness, to $30 million, and a more than 200 percent increase for the penetrator, to $27 million.
“They’re coming back in and trying to recover their losses,” said David Culp, legislative liaison for the Friends’ Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker group that monitors nuclear arms issues. “I think that’s going to get pretty tough scrutiny from Congress.”