NNSA refurbishes aging nuclear bomb
Washington, July 4 (UNI) After six years of sustained effort, the first nuclear weapon from the aging U S stockpile has been refurbished successfully to ensure its reliability without underground testing, according to a government agency announcement.
The refurbished weapon, a B61 nuclear bomb, is among the oldest weapons in the nuclear stockpile but remains an important component of the U S strategic defense for authorised delivery.
The refurbishment will extend the bomb's reliability by 20 years by providing necessary structural restoration. All of the B61s are slated to be refurbished by fiscal year 2009.
''Our nuclear weapons were never intended to last this long and they were not designed to be taken apart, so it is a credit to our scientists and engineers who have come together to deliver this unit on time,'' said Tom D'Agostino, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programmes with the U S Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The project to refurbish old weapons was completed under NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Programme, which works to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent without conducting underground tests. The agency uses science-based research to develop solutions to extend the lifetime of a warhead or bomb.
Many U S nuclear weapons were produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These were not designed to last indefinitely, and nuclear warheads deteriorate over time, even when kept in storage.
No new nuclear weapons have been produced since the end of the Cold War, according to the NNSA statement.
NNSA is a semi autonomous agency within the U S Department of Energy. Established by the Congress in 2000, it is responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science.
NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U S nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing, and works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction.
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