President Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is pending, in fact, overdue. Given Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to raise Russia’s nuclear alert status, what will the NPR contain? Will it tamp down nuclear rhetoric and restrain proliferation-provocative U.S. initiatives, or will it bring gas to a fire?

For now, President Biden has prudently chosen not to take the Putin’s bait, but what path will be laid out in the NPR… and what will it mean for Livermore?

Why Livermore? Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories are the two US labs that design U.S. nuclear weapons (Note: Sandia plays its part in mating new-design warheads to new missiles and related activities) Our “company town” is the nuclear part of the “Military-Industrial Complex” that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation about in 1961.

More than 85% of recent Livermore Lab budgets have gone to programs directly related to nuclear weapons development and maintenance of the nuclear weapons complex. This means that roughly 10,000 Livermore and Sandia workers and their families derive their income from nuclear weapons work.

That nuclear income then supports local businesses, including my own. To what extent have we numbed ourselves and normalized the potential for nuclear conflagration? How much do we think about these things as we conduct our daily lives?

I hope and pray that this administration continues to step back from the brink and will explore ways to protect our country that do not include the development of more globally dangerous and polluting nuclear weapons.

My hope is that the pending Nuclear Posture Review will provide a roadmap away from further arms racing and toward verifiable arms control measures. I recall treaties – negotiated during the cold war – that made us all more secure.

This in turn could influence future weapons budgets, and could mean additional civilian science programs at Livermore Lab.

At the very least the NPR should eliminate unnecessary “make work” projects. Let’s hope more Lab scientists can be funded to make progress on issues that preserve, not threaten, humanity.

Mary Perner,


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