War Profiteer of the Month: University of California
UC gets 150 million USD annually from the DoD and manages nuclear weapons labs with Bechtel Corp. 40% of Livermore Lab employees are UC graduates. UC Regent Richards Blum's company gets 125 million USD for work at Los Alomos.
The University of California runs two national laboratories in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. They are Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The duties of the two labs vary but both have a role in weapons and non-weapons related nuclear activities. Due to their involvement in this type of research the role of the laboratories was threatened when the United Nations ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The United States Senate has thus far failed to ratify the treaty through Congress, signaling to the international community that the United States has no interest in the elimination of nuclear weapons.
In 1992, then-President George Bush followed the Soviet and French moratoriums on nuclear testing and initiated a suspension of U.S. nuclear testing. With no way to test their designs, national nuclear weapons laboratories, like Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory faced a sudden cut back in the demand for their services. In the face of this challenge, the DOE, the facilities, and their congressional supporters devised the Stockpile Stewardship Program. This program created a way for the laboratories to stay in operation without cutbacks to their funding or employees. The reality of this program was to maintain the vitality of this large, government created enterprise. The DOE legitimized this program to the public by stressing the need to monitor the existing nuclear arsenal in order to predict age-related problems. In addition, the labs have expanded the program into a funding source that has been used to design new kinds of nuclear weapons (without testing) while rapidly reconstituting the already large arsenal. In effect, the United States is continuing the nuclear arms race virtually by itself with a blatant disregard for the international community's efforts to end this dangerous pattern.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is located in New Mexico and is the DOE weapons laboratory with the largest number of defense facilities and weapons-related activities.
The Applied Physics (X) Division is responsible for nuclear weapons design as well as having a lead role in assessing the safety, reliability, and performance of the nuclear weapons in the nation's nuclear stockpile. The X-Division works closely with several government agencies including the Departments of Energy and Defense, the intelligence community, other DOE labs, and the United Kingdom's atomic weapons establishment. In addition, they provide operational assistance in response to nuclear emergencies, and advice to government agencies about treaty negotiations and foreign interactions. The expertise of the X-Division includes the physics design and assessment of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons, and the analysis of the output and effects of nuclear weapons.
The Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrotest Facility (DARHT) is a facility near the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The DARHT serves to test the first stage of a thermonuclear weapon. The mockups are imploded while photographs and x-rays are taken rapidly. This allows the scientists to see inside the explosion.
The Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative is a tri-laboratory project involving the LANL, LLNL, and Sandia National Laboratory that will create modeling and simulation capabilities for both the stockpile of nuclear weapons as well as aiding to design new ones.
The Weapon Design Technologies (NIS-9) section of the Los Alamos lab analyzes the threat posed by foreign weapons of mass destruction to the United States or it's allies. It uses resources available throughout the LANL to support national agencies concerned with the proliferation of technologies that could be used to produce weapons of a nuclear, chemical, or biological nature.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Was established in 1952 to design and develop nuclear weapons. Scientists at LLNL are responsible for four out of nine nuclear weapons systems in the United States' stockpile.
Construction of the world's largest laser installation, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), is underway at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The NIF's intended use is to produce contained thermonuclear explosions to provide data for the advance of nuclear weapons science. According to LLNL and the DOE, the National Ignition Facility will preserve the U.S.'s ability to maintain, test, modify, design and produce nuclear weapons. NIF is used both to train weapons designers in nuclear weapons science and for nuclear weapons effects testing. Replacement of underground testing will be a result of this new laboratory, demonstrating a continued commitment to nuclear weapons as core instruments of national policy.