Join our brand new verified AMN Telegram channel and get important news uncensored!

Biden nominee for Joint Chiefs backs plutonium pit production, broader nuke upgrades

Adm. Christopher Grady, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. (U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Gary Ross)

President Joe Biden’s pick to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorsed the need to produce dozens of nuclear weapon cores in the years to come while also expressing concern about maintaining the massive funding streams modernization efforts demand.

In testimony recently submitted to the Senate, Adm. Christopher Grady said he supported the National Nuclear Security Administration’s pursuit of 80 plutonium pits per year as well as the new W87-1 warhead they are bound for.

“A modernized and fully ready nuclear deterrent is one of the No. 1 priorities of the department,” Grady told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “And, if confirmed, I would seek to ensure that.”

But keeping the money flowing — “maintaining necessary funding to develop, produce and sustain a modernized nuclear force and stockpile” — complicates things.

The South Carolina footprint where the National Nuclear Security Administration plans to produce a majority of its plutonium triggers, the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility, could cost some $11 billion. And that is a drop in the funding bucket, or ocean.

Executing nuclear weapons plans delineated in the Energy and Defense fiscal year 2021 budget requests would cost $634 billion between 2021-2030, an annual average of $60 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, appreciated Grady’s commitment to upgrading the U.S. arsenal, noting that it “has become somewhat controversial, in the past.”

“We have to know where we’re coming from,” the Oklahoma Republican said.

Grady was nominated in November. If confirmed, he would become the nation’s No. 2 military officer.

The previous vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Hyten, earlier this year said his greatest infrastructure concern was “any delay” that translates to missed deadlines for plutonium pits.

“As our nuclear weapon stockpile ages, it is essential that we continue to modernize our aging DOE infrastructure,” Hyten wrote to Rep. Michael Turner, an Ohio Republican.

Hyten retired Nov. 19. The vice chairman position has sat vacant since.


(c) 2021 the Aiken Standard

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.