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.
The University of California has been involved in the management of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - two of the nation’s primary nuclear weapons labs - since their inception. Multiple UC campuses have research partnerships with facilities in the nuclear weapons complex.
The state of California supports a complete ban on nuclear weapons; it is time for its university system to do the same.
More details about the University of California’s involvement
Currently, at a system level, the University of California is a partner in Triad National Security, LLC, along with Texas A&M University 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. The University of California estimated that it would receive $8.9 million in net fee revenue from Triad for FY2019, which it plans to reinvest in lab oversight functions and funding for research partnerships between UC campuses and the labs.
In 2007, the management of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was awarded to a University of California-led LLC called Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC. The partners in this LLC are the University of California, Bechtel National, BWX Technologies, and AECOM.
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.
The management organization is scheduled to receive a fixed fee of nearly $13 million in FY2019, with performance incentive fees of up to $30 million also available. It is unclear exactly how the partners in the LLC divide the fees. The University of California estimated that it would receive $13.6 million in net fee revenue from this lab for FY2019, which it would reinvest in lab oversight functions and funding for research partnerships between UC campuses and the labs.
Several individual campuses in the University of California system are listed as partners on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory website. When asked for more information, the responses from these campuses have shown varied levels of partnership, mostly at the level of research collaborations between faculty and the lab in different scientific areas.
Three campuses - UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UCLA - are partners 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. 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.
UC San Diego was awarded funding in 2018 for a Stewardship Science Academic Alliance Center of Excellence. The Center for Matter under Extreme Conditions will receive $10.5 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.