Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor Vol. 26 No. 10
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Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor
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March 11, 2022

NNSA budget up in omnibus; prohibitions against B83, sea-launched W80-4 gone

By Dan Leone

After idling for half the 2022 fiscal year at last year’s budget level, the National Nuclear Security Administration would get some $26.65 billion to see it through Sept. 30, under an omnibus spending package that at deadline Friday awaited only President Joe Biden’s signature.

That’s a 4.5% raise year-over-year that’s 3% more than requested for the semiautonomous Department of Energy nuclear-weapons agency that maintains and modernizes bombs and warheads. Biden said he would sign the bill.

The omnibus, which cleared Congress on Thursday, would also drop funding prohibitions for two requested weapons programs that became targets of disarmament advocates in and outside of government: a life-extension program for the B83 megaton-capable gravity bomb and early work on a sea-launched variant of the W80-4 cruise missile warhead. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is responsible for both weapons.

In a spending bill passed last year, House appropriators barred funding for the B83 and W80-4 sea-launched programs out of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) 2022 budget until after the Joe Biden administration published its nuclear posture review — a document that is now a couple months overdue and which, like the national defense strategy it was to accompany may be reshaped by Russia’s Feb. 24 military invasion of Ukraine.

Senate appropriators, on the other hand, proposed withholding funding for B83 and the W80-4 sea-launched cruise-missile-warhead until the Secretary of Defense certified that the Pentagon had an operational need for both programs.

But now, B83 and the sea-launched W80-4 can proceed unfettered for 2022 “as Congress awaits the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review (NPR),” according to an explanatory statement that accompanied the 2022 omnibus.

Further, appropriators wrote in the omnibus report, “NNSA is directed to brief the Congressional Defense Committees on any departures from the fiscal year 2022 budget request in the NPR.”

Meanwhile, NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation office would get about $2.4 billion for 2022, under the omnibus. That’s roughly a 4% raise over both the 2021 budget and the White House’s request. Raises for the office’s Global Materials Security programs, which are designed to halt the spread of radioactive and fissile material across the globe, account for much of the increase — this while the NNSA kicks off a possible reboot of the nonproliferation office’s mission, disclosed by NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby in February.

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