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The U.S. Nuclear Weapon Production Complex: From the Collapse of the Soviet Union to Today

Stephen J. Guidice

Independent Consultant

This talk will focus on the issues facing the Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) production complex to accomplish its modernization objectives. Currently, there are production functions performed at four plant sites and two national laboratories. The term production is used broadly to include all DOE/NNSA operations on nuclear weapons, such as production, retrofit, maintenance, repair or dismantlement and it includes the surveillance program in which weapons are disassembled and their components laboratory or flight tested to assess their safety, security and reliability.

This talk will cover the actions taken in the 1990s that set the stage for current issues surrounding the modernization of US nuclear weapons. By the end of 1992, the US halted underground nuclear weapon testing, canceled the development and production of all new nuclear weapons, decided to dismantle about half its stockpile and reconfigure the DOE/NNSA laboratory and production complex. This talk will also touch on the US efforts to help Russia manage its nuclear arsenal and fissile materials in the immediate aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

From 1977 to 1997, Mr. Guidice held nuclear weapon program management positions within DOE/NNSA. From 1998 to the present, Mr. Guidice has been an independent consultant to DOE, the Department of Defense, and other government and public policy organizations.