Elaine M. Grossman and Douglas P. Guarino
November 19, 2013
The Obama administration on Monday evening pushed back against suggestions it might reconsider a costly plan for upgrading a pair of U.S. nuclear warheads due to increasing budget constraints and growing skepticism about the project’s feasibility.
The White House on Monday issued a formal objection to language in the Senate version of the fiscal 2014 annual defense authorization bill that calls on the administration to launch new studies of alternatives to its existing plan for a joint Air Force-Navy program to extend the service lives of two nuclear warheads.
In recent weeks, congressional aides and other observers said so-called sequestration funding cuts and spending constraints caused by the use of continuing budget resolutions — rather than annual appropriations bills — might prompt the administration to revisit a 25-year plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.
The plan, which the Energy Department issued earlier this year, includes the creation of new, interoperable warheads capable of multiple tasks. The first such warhead would be called the “IW-1,” and would have the ability to replace both the W-78 — currently fitted on Air Force ground-based ballistic missiles — and the Navy W-88, used on submarine-based missiles.
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