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US Nuclear Modernization Budget Falls Short of Expected Costs - Watchdog

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The National Nuclear Security Administration's 2016 budget dedicated to modernizing the US nuclear arsenal is understated in certain areas, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a release.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The National Nuclear Security Administration’s 2016 budget estimates that modernizing the US nuclear weapons stockpile will cost $297.6 billion for the next 25 years, according to the release.

"GAO also identified instances where certain modernization costs were not included in the estimates or may be underestimated, or where budget estimates for some efforts could increase due to their dependency on successful execution of other [National Nuclear Security Administration] programs," the release, issued on Friday, stated.

The estimate represents an increase of $4.2 billion, which is a 1.4 percent more than in 2015.

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The release also noted that budget estimates for the Life Extension Program (LEP) of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s first interoperable ballistic missile warhead (IW-1) are predicated on the successful modernizing of its "plutonium pit production capacity."

"This [National Nuclear Security Administration] official stated that if there are delays in modernizing this capacity, the IW-1 LEP could bear greater costs than currently estimated," the release added.

In August 2015, GAO recommended that the National Nuclear Security Administration provide more transparency with regard to budget shortfalls while the Administration, in response, committed to implement said prescription during its 2017 financial budgeting process.

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