November 26, 2002


Contact: Ben Tannenbaum or Israel Kline at (202) 225-2836

Markey Questions Need for New Nuclear Bomb Factory

Washington, D.C. - Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Maryland), a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-chairman of the Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, today released a letter to Spencer Abraham, Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), asking for information related to DOE's proposal to build the Modern Pit Facility, a new multi-billion dollar facility that would be used to manufacture plutonium pits for nuclear weapons.

"The Bush Administration claims to be committed to nuclear non-proliferation, and has promised to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, yet it also wants to build a new bomb factory," said Rep. Markey. "This inconsistent policy can only undermine U.S. efforts to convince other nations to abide by their non-proliferation obligations. Further, DOE can't find anything wrong with the 10,000 warheads that are already deployed, or the 5,000 warheads that could easily be re-deployed, or the 7,000 pits left over from dismantled warheads. I just don't see the need for this costly new facility."

Press releases from DOE claim that the United States does not have, but needs, a new facility to produce hundreds of new pits per year. The facility would not come on-line until 2018, a time when the Bush Administration projects, 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads. However, a facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory has built 11 test pits and will be able to make certified pits by April 2003; this facility would be able to produce 20 pits per year.

Rep. Markey's letter asked for the following information from DOE:
How long does it take to replace the existing stock[ile of nuclear warheads with existing, or soon to be completed, facilities? How often does the stockpile need to be replaced? Can either of these questions be answered, prior to the completion of the current experiments with Los Alamos?
What affect will this facility have on the nonproliferation agreements signed by the United States?

To read Representative Markey's letter in its entirety, visit

For more information about the proposed facility, its effects on New Mexico and comments on the proposed facility, please see the CCNS News Archive.

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