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Nuclear Energy & Weapons

Given the central role that physical scientists have traditionally played in the history of nuclear energy and weapons, FYI covers major developments in nuclear energy and weapons policy, particularly as they relate to ongoing science policy matters.

13 Jul 2016

Among its most significant science-related provisions, the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate would assign management of Department of Defense R&D to a reconstituted Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering. The bill also contains multiple measures to improve DOD’s ability to hire top technical talent, and the authoring committee expresses interest in “comprehensive defense lab governance reform.”

20 Jun 2016

After missing a goal for achieving a high-energy-yield fusion reaction by 2012, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is taking a step back to determine whether fusion ignition by laser is possible by 2020.

3 Jun 2016

Last month, the House passed its version of the annual defense policy bill. The legislation contains various controversial components, including a provision which directs the Missile Defense Agency to begin development of a space-based missile defense system.

1 Jun 2016

Two low-probability but high-impact events—massive solar storms and human-caused electromagnetic pulses—have recently climbed higher on the list of policymaker concerns about threats to critical infrastructure, resulting in the White House releasing a National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan and Congress considering bills on both subjects.

12 May 2016

Although the House and Senate remain supportive of the Office of Nuclear Energy overall, they continue to stake out divergent stances on nuclear waste disposal via appropriations bills for the Department of Energy – with the House still pushing for approval of the Yucca Mountain repository and the Senate again advancing a pilot program to consolidate waste at an interim storage site.

 
5 May 2016

Both the House and Senate fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills for the National Nuclear Security Administration would provide just shy of the requested $12.876 billion and would match the request for the three main subaccounts. However, there are some notable differences beneath these topline agreements.

7 Apr 2016

Recent reports of terrorists attempting to acquire nuclear materials have given greater urgency to efforts to secure and reduce nuclear materials, including the development of non-radioactive alternatives to certain radioisotopes used widely in the civilian sector.

1 Apr 2016

In a letter addressed to attendees of the Nuclear Security Summit occurring this week, a group of 35 Nobel laureates urge transition away from use of highly enriched uranium in naval and research reactors and encourage development of non-radioactive alternatives to certain radioisotopes used in medical and research applications.

 
4 Mar 2016

In recent hearings, congressional and agency leaders highlighted their consensus on the need to modernize the aging U.S. nuclear arsenal and discussed concerns about the impending costs, including private concerns expressed by Energy Secretary Moniz that projected funding levels for future fiscal years are not sufficient to support needed improvements to National Nuclear Security Administration infrastructure.

2 Mar 2016

Republicans and Democrats in Congress are backing, with near unanimity, a bill that would promote collaboration on research and development of advanced fission and fusion energy reactors across the Department of Energy’s national labs, universities, and the private sector.

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