By SUE MAJOR HOLMES, Associated Press Writer Sue Major Holmes, Associated Press Writer
Mon Feb 1, 7:24 pm ET
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – President Barack Obama is seeking increased funding for nuclear weapons research and security programs next year, even as his administration promotes nonproliferation and has pledged to reduce the world's stockpile of nuclear arms.
The administration on Monday asked Congress for more than $7 billion for activities related to nuclear weapons in the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, an increase of $624 million from the 2010 fiscal year.
NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino defended putting more money into the programs, saying the U.S. needs the best nuclear weapons facilities, scientists, technicians and engineers as it moves toward eventual disarmament.
"This budget is implementing the president's nuclear vision," he said.
The total Department of Energy request for New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory totals $2.21 billion, up from $1.82 billion in 2010. The request for weapons-related activities is $1.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion, while nonproliferation activities would get $233 million, up from $188 million.
The total request for Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque is $1.49 billion, an increase from $1.3 billion. Weapons activities would get $1.14 billion, compared with the 2010 total of $953 million, while nonproliferation would increase to $187 million from the current $171 million.
The investment would ensure a smaller stockpile will take care of the nation's needs; the stockpile is safe and secure; and other nations aren't cheating as the U.S. moves "from a Cold War nuclear weapons complex ... into a 21st century, nuclear security enterprise," D'Agostino said.
Greg Mello, director of the nuclear watchdog Los Alamos Study Group, said budgets for NNSA and DOE have increased in recent years, but the nation "hasn't seen any increase in weapons activities like this since the early years of Ronald Reagan."