UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

DOE Facilities

Broadly stated, there are five major manufacturing and surveillance functional areas in the weapons industrial base:

  • Weapons assembly/disassembly (A/D)
  • Pit components
  • Secondary and case components
  • High explosives (HE) components
  • Nonnuclear components

Weapons Assembly/Disassembly. The Pantex Plant (Pantex) is the only DOE site currently authorized to assemble or disassemble stockpile weapons. Special facilities built to explosives safety criteria are required; in addition, some facilities are designed to limit nuclear material dispersal in case of an HE accident. These facilities exist in large numbers at Pantex, and because they are relatively discrete structures, downsizing-in-place is a viable alternative. NTS has a much smaller set of these special structures that were constructed for use in assembling nuclear test devices. However, NTS has few of the support facilities required for volume assembly or disassembly of stockpile weapons.

Pit Components. These components are designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and were formerly produced at the Rocky Flats Plant, which is no longer available for this function. The LLNL facility is not large enough to accommodate both stewardship and management activities; therefore, only LANL is considered to be a reasonable alternative if this function is reestablished at a weapons laboratory. Also, LANL has the more extensive and complete plutonium facility infrastructure.

Secondary and Case Components. The Y-12 Plant (Y-12) at the Oak Ridge Reservation produces the secondary and case components. These components are designed by LANL and LLNL. Both of these laboratories have a uranium technology base and facility infrastructure, although they have only a very limited R&D manufacturing capability.

High Explosives Components. Pantex currently manufactures HE components in special facilities built to explosives safety criteria. Comparable facilities also exist at both LANL and LLNL, and either laboratory has sufficient capacity to meet estimated future manufacturing requirements.

Nonnuclear Components. Kansas City Plant (KCP) currently manufactures the majority of the nonnuclear components. The manufacturing technologies are complex and varied due to the large number of component types and high reliability requirements. Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) designs most of the components that KCP manufactures.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:42:33 ZULU