Description: For the 40-plus years of the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union built up nuclear stockpiles of tens of thousands of weapons. Now, as the Cold War has ended and tensions between the superpowers have subsided, the US faces the task of significantly reducing its nuclear arsenal. Many thousands of nuclear weapons are being removed from the stockpile as a result of recent treaties and unilateral decisions. This issue of Energy and Technology Review describes the Laboratory`s role in the nation`s effort to dismantle these weapons safely and rapidly. The dismantlement of the United States` nuclear weapons takes place at the Department of Energy`s Pantex facility near Amarillo, Texas. The first article in this issue summarizes the Laboratory`s involvement in dismantling Livermore-designed nuclear weapons. LLNL (like Los Alamos) has responsibility for the weapons it designed, from design concept to retirement. In the past, the responsibilities ended when the weapon was retired from the stockpile. Now however, the role has been extended to include dismantlement. The second article reports on an incident that occurred in November 1992, in which the pit of a W48 warhead cracked during dismantlement. The Laboratory was called upon to handle the pit safely and determine the causes of the cracking. The third article explores a variety of methods proposed for reusing the high explosives after they are removed from the weapon. In the past, Laboratory work on nuclear weapons focused primarily on design and development. However, as the size and composition of the US stockpile changes with evolving international conditions, they will be called upon with increasing frequency to provide the scientific and technical expertise needed to dismantle the nation`s retired nuclear weapons safely and efficiently.
Date: November 1, 1993
Creator: Quirk, W. J.; Canada, J.; de Vore, L.; Gleason, K.; Kirvel, R. D.; Kroopnick, H. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department