Nearly 50 U.S. universities are involved in the research and design of U.S. nuclear weapons, largely in secret and in contradiction of their mission statements. Students and faculty must demand their universities stop helping to build weapons of mass destruction.
From managing a nuclear weapons lab to partnering with production facilities, the Texas A&M System has connections to many different segments of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. The university has a publicly stated “commitment to the nuclear weapons industry.”
More details about Texas A&M University’s involvement
The Texas A&M University is a partner in Triad National Security, LLC, along with the University of California Regents and Battelle Memorial Institute. Triad won the contract to operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2018. The Lab provides design and engineering for several nuclear warhead types, conducts simulated experiments to evaluate warheads, and has the capacity to produce plutonium pits, the core material for nuclear warheads. Department of Energy funding for the lab in FY2019 was $2.48 billion, of which 76% comes from the NNSA’s Weapons Activities Appropriations.
The fixed fee awarded to Triad for executing the contract is about $20 million per year, with an additional $25-30 million available through award fees should it meet certain performance benchmarks. This is the money Triad receives above the costs of operating the facility - essentially its profit. Officials at Texas A&M reported that its fee information is considered proprietary.
Texas A&M University is also a subcontractor to Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, which manages the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 2007, at the beginning of this partnership, an announcement noted that the university’s proposed role would be “to operate an institute at LLNL dedicated to national security education and research.” When asked about its current role at the laboratory, Texas A&M officials said its system “provides graduate and executive level training to Lawrence Livermore staff related to the safeguarding of nuclear materials, the reduction of nuclear threats and non-proliferation.”
Similar to the Los Alamos lab, the Lawrence Livermore lab provides design and engineering for several nuclear warhead types and conducts simulated experiments to evaluate warheads. Department of Energy funding for the lab in FY2019 was $1.56 billion, of which 86% comes from the NNSA’s Weapons Activities Appropriations.
Texas A&M is a partner in Sandia National Laboratories’ Campus Executive Program. This program aims to build deeper relational connections between the laboratory and different universities for the purpose of research collaboration and future workforce recruitment. In FY2018, Sandia invested $18.7 million in research across its Campus Executive and Academic Alliance universities. In 2016, the Texas A&M University System joined Boeing, Battelle, the University of New Mexico and the University of Texas in an unsuccessful bid to manage Sandia. Sandia National Laboratories focuses on the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons and on nuclear weapons systems integration, for example connecting warheads to their missile delivery systems. Sandia also performs simulated experiments to test the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons.
Texas A&M is listed as a “Key University Partner” by Consolidated National Security, LLC, the managing contractor for the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex, “demonstrating expertise in aligned research interests, strength in academic and research disciplines, successful working relationships with university faculty and administration, and extensive programmatic and research interactions supporting key CNS initiatives.” In 2018, the Texas A&M System announced an agreement with CNS that also includes leased space in the new building, which Texas A&M System leadership viewed “as a natural extension of the System’s commitment to the nuclear weapons industry.” The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station has an ongoing umbrella agreement with CNS for “collaborative research and education support;” individual tasks are requested and funded under this agreement. The funding ceiling was initially $199,000 in 2017, but increased substantially to nearly $3 million by early 2019.
The Pantex Plant is responsible for the dismantling of retired warheads and the reassembly of warheads undergoing life extension projects and is the storage location for thousands of plutonium pits. The Y-12 Complex sources the enriched uranium necessary for nuclear weapons.
Texas A&M also receives funding under the Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program (PSAAP) II for its Center for Exascale Radiation Transport. PSAAP is an Advanced Simulation and Computing initiative funded by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that has roots that date back to 1997. Since the NNSA can no longer actively test nuclear weapons, it funds universities to develop advanced simulation capabilities. PSAAP II, the recent iteration of this initiative, started in 2014 and provided $14.4 million annually for five years to six different centers. In 2019, a funding opportunity announcement was made for the next five years, with award announcements expected late in 2019 and estimated to total $20 million per year, subject to appropriation authority. The announcement emphasized that proposals should consider simulation capabilities within a discipline “of interest” to the NNSA’s mission.
Texas A&M was awarded funding in 2018 for two separate Stewardship Science Academic Alliance Centers of Excellence. The Center for Excellence in Nuclear Training and University-based Research will receive $10 million in research grants over five years. The Center for Research Excellence on Dynamically Deformed Solids will receive $12.5 million in research grants over five years. While the Stewardship Science Academic Alliance program funds basic, unclassified research, it seeks and funds proposals that have relevance to the stewardship of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.
For more information, including references, you can read the full report.