In 1996, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was assigned the job of creating a plutonium warhead core – (or) “pit” – factory that could produce 50 pits per year.
Twenty-three years and many billions later, LANL’s capacity to produce pits – let alone do so with reliability and confidence – is exactly zero.
LANL has no pit production capability, and that will remain the case until essential repairs, installations and safety enhancements to key buildings and functions are complete. This will take at least five years and cost $3 billion, assuming success.
Back in 1996, (the U.S. Department of Energy) said LANL could set up its factory by 2002 with only $310 million, including $200 million in deferred maintenance. Production would cost just $30 million per year. Doubling production would cost a mere $44 million and entail no extra operating costs.