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Simulating Nuclear Explosions under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

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While touching on a few other topics, this interim report deals primarily with the issue of new nuclear weapon designs and significant modifications that provide new or improved military capability. A more comprehensive NRDC analysis of the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP) is tentatively scheduled for release in November 1997. This final report will cover additional controversial issues, including:

  • the Department of Energy's (DOE's) questionable program to expand plutonium pit fabrication capacity at Los Alamos National Laboratory;

  • development and testing of high-explosive driven micro-fusion devices that could violate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty's (CTBT's) prohibition on nuclear explosions;

  • the flawed, biased, and illegal review process leading to the recent DOE decision to construct the huge $1.2 billion National Ignition Facility for laser driven micro-fusion at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory;

  • the nuclear weapons proliferation impacts of a program that is explicitly intended to produce, for publication largely in the peer-reviewed unclassified literature, accurate theoretical models of the fundamental physical processes at work in each stage of a thermonuclear weapon's operation, thereby freeing future nuclear weapons design from the shackles of a politically burdensome, easily-observed, nuclear-test-based empiricism.

How the Secret "Green Book" Saw the Light of Day

This interim report is based on, and largely consists of recently de-classified excerpts from, the February 29, 1996 version of the DOE's ever-expanding "Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan," produced by DOE's Office of Defense Programs. The existence of this comprehensive "road-map" of U.S. plans and ongoing programs involving the nuclear weapons stockpile was known to very few persons outside classified government circles until late 1996, when NRDC obtained the minutes of an August 1996 National Academy of Sciences Inertial Confinement Fusion Advisory Panel that mentioned the existence of a so-called "Green Book" containing a detailed "Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan."[1] NRDC requested this document under the Freedom of Information Act on February 4, 1997, but as of June 1, 1997, the DOE had declined to provide it. However, in ongoing litigation between NRDC and the DOE involving the SSMP, NRDC argued that DOE had clearly relied upon this plan in preparing its flawed analyses of SSMP's environmental impacts, and therefore that the "Green Book" should be included in the Administrative Record of the case. Preferably this could be done in a declassified form, but in classified form if necessary, in which case NRDC's cleared consultant could be given access to the document. While DOE continued to deny that this comprehensive plan defines the scope of its activities requiring environmental analysis -- a major issue in the case -- it could hardly do so while continuing to deny any and all access to the document by plaintiffs.

Given the choice of a classified review of the entire document by NRDC's cleared consultant, retired Livermore physicist Dr. Ray Kidder,[2] or partial release of a declassified version, DOE chose the latter. However, what DOE chose to release is not the latest or most extensive version of the "Green Book." DOE redacted and released the February 1996 version, as that was the document ostensibly available to decisionmakers at the time the DOE issued its draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) -- hence the present document.


1. In 19 September 1996 testimony before the House National Security Committee, Subcommittee on Military Procurement, Deputy Secretary of Energy Charles B. Curtis mentioned the "Green Book" and stated that a copy of this classified document had been provided to Congress in April 1996.

2. One of the pioneers of inertial confinement fusion, Dr. Kidder's previous analyses of nuclear weapons reliability and safety issues, conducted at the request of members of Congress in the late 1980's and early 1990's, had decimated the DOE's arguments that continued nuclear explosive testing was required indefinitely to maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile, and DOE apparently remains wary of handing him a platform for his views.

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