Los Alamos’ CMRR Alternative To Cost 87% Less

August 8, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Leah Fae Cochran

CMRR alternative - “Los Alamos National Laboratory’s proposed alternative to building [the $6 billion CMRR] plutonium laboratory would require $800 million over the next decade to upgrade existing buildings to do the lab’s nuclear weapons work, according to lab documents,“ writes John Fleck for the Albuquerque Journal.

--The White House budget request would defer CMRR funds for 5 years as NNSA explores less expensive alternatives. Both congressional Appropriations Committees included zero funds for CMRR in their FY13 bills, but the Armed Services committees’ authorization bills have attempted to put money back in.

--LANL’s alternative plutonium strategy says it would provide for a plutonium pit production capacity of 30 pits per year, down from the CMRR’s proposed 50 to 80 per year. http://bit.ly/ONZikM

Welcome to Early Warning - Subscribe to our morning email or follow us on twitter.

--Have a tip? Email earlywarning@ploughshares.org. Want to support this work? Click here.

Inside the Beltway - A recent poll of national security insiders by the National Journal asked, “Do you agree with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent statement that ‘a nuclear Iran represents the greatest threat to the world?”

--73% of respondents said no, while 27% said yes. One anonymous “no” respondent said, "The hysterical, election-driven rhetoric about Iran today is almost verbatim the same as that associated with the Chinese acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1960s." http://bit.ly/NnXxXJ

Beyond the Beltway - Professor Stephen Walt recently returned from a series of talks outside Washington that covered Iran policy. His impression of the mood beyond the Beltway: “ I detected no support for any sort of war with Iran. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Not by us, not by Israel, and not by anybody else. It's possible that some people in the audience would use force as a last resort, but no one in the audience or in private spoke in favor of that option or even asked a question that leaned in that direction.” From Foreign Policy. http://bit.ly/ORyIVq

Tweet - @TalkingWarheads: Today in '05, Iran ended its suspension at the UCF in Esfahan, which led the IAEA to declare it to be in noncompliance with its obligations.

Y-12 security breach - The peace activists that broke into the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex spent hours on the grounds before they were caught - by a lone guard.

--The three activists - including an 82-year old nun - cut through a network of 8-foot tall fences with bolt cutters, triggering numerous alarms and sensors but not drawing a security response. Some of the video cameras in the area also were not working or were not aimed properly. Matthew Wald and William J. Broad have the story for The New York Times. http://nyti.ms/QfbEie

Lugar in Russia - Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) is headed to Russia this week, with a key goal of seeking renewal of the umbrella agreement enabling implementation of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program. The CTR agreement is set to lapse in 2013. Since 1991, CTR has an impressive scorecard that includes the deactivation of 7,659 strategic nuclear warheads. Global Security Newswire has the story. http://bit.ly/QfdoYF

Tripled - Iranian TV is banned from broadcasting images of people munching on chicken after its price has skyrocketed, according to Iran expert Meir Javedanfar.

--”The supreme leader could, for example, blame the price of chicken -- which has tripled since last year -- on sanctions that the U.S. and the European Union imposed to deter Iran from continuing its nuclear-fuel plan. Yet that would mean admitting to both the West and ordinary Iranians that sanctions are having a big impact, something the regime is desperately trying to avoid,” writes Javedanfar. Bloomberg has the story. http://bloom.bg/OXGUW6

Book - Farideh Farhi reviews “National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy” a book published in Iran in 2011 but only made available to western audiences a few months ago. The book is written by Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s nuclear negotiator for two years during the Khatami presidency, and a longtime official of the post-revolution Islamic regime.

-- “More than anything else, this is a book generated from debates and disagreements within Iran’s political establishment that is intended to influence the continuing mutation of that debate,” writes Farhi. Lobe Log has the full review here. http://bit.ly/Tcu1Zc

Blast height - The U.S. takes a lot of credit for the Manhattan Project, but British scientists also had key roles. William Penney, for example, determined what height Little Boy and Fat Man should be detonated at for maximum effect.

--Penney’s memo on the subject argues for a specific goal of the atomic blasts: the complete destruction of civilian buildings. “When the scientists at Los Alamos made plans for how to use the atomic bomb, they optimized them for the burning of civilians. This should not be forgotten or glossed over, even if one thinks it was still the right thing to do,” writes Alex Wellerstein at Restricted Data. http://bit.ly/NnZqnj