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NNSA Approves $1B Subcritical Nuclear Testing Project

The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration has approved a $1.1B concept design for the Advanced Sources and Detectors program involving subcritical experiments to maintain the nation’s nuclear deterrent, DOE said Thursday. The ASD project will support the U.S. stockpile stewardship program and revolve around generating high-speed and high-fidelity images of subcritical experiments that don’t produce nuclear yield.

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Charles Verdon, deputy administrator for defense programs at NNSA, said the diagnostic capability will help scientists study plutonium reactions under extreme conditions and advance the nation’s nuclear preparation without having to conduct underground testing. The Los Alamos National Laboratory will lead the effort and partner with research entities such as the Sandia National Laboratories, Nevada National Security Site and Livermore National Laboratory. The program comes as part of NNSA’s Enhanced Capabilities for Subcritical Experiments looks to ensure the responsiveness of U.S. nuclear infrastructure in compliance with the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

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