by Leonor Tomero
On January 28, 2010 at a Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation briefing for Senate staffers that was moderated by Center Chairman Lt. General Robert Gard (USA, Ret.), Dr. Richard Garwin discussed the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons and options to ensure that these weapons remain safe and secure, and provided insight into what “modernization” is necessary. In this context, he detailed the findings of the JASON independent scientific advisory group report on the status of U.S. efforts to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal that concluded “Lifetimes of today’s nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence, by using approaches similar to those employed in LEPs [Life Extension Programs] to date.”
The Administration is currently evaluating the requirements necessary to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the context of the Nuclear Posture Review, an assessment of U.S. nuclear strategy, policy, and forces. The Review is scheduled to be completed by March 1. In addition, the FY2010 Defense Authorization Act requires that when the President submits the START follow-on treaty to Congress he must also submit a plan to enhance the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile, modernize the nuclear weapons complex, and maintain the delivery vehicles (i.e. bombers, subs, and missiles).
Dr. Richard Garwin is an IBM fellow emeritus at the IBM Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York; adjunct professor of physics at Columbia University; and a longtime consultant to the U.S. government on nuclear weapons and military technology. He was one of the principal designers of America’s first hydrogen bomb. He is also a member of the JASON scientific advisory group. He has published more than 500 papers and been granted 45 U.S. patents. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Science and the Enrico Fermi Award. He received a B.S. in Physics from Case Institute of Technology, Cleveland, in 1947, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1949.