The program would almost surely be more expensive than the B61 project. And cost is the main issue for Garwin. He says that Obama ought to demand that the NNSA lay out a plan for cutting the cost of the stewardship program by two-thirds, just to get a sense of how effective such a program might be. That exercise would help the administration and Congress to better understand their options, he says.
The value of expensive stockpile-stewardship programs is dubious, says Garwin. US weapons will remain credible, he adds, regardless of the results that come back from high-profile experiments such as the National Ignition Facility. And he points out that the W88, the most advanced weapon in the US arsenal, was designed on a computer that had less processing power than a personal desktop computer has today. He sees no need to capture the interests of an army of bomb designers with powerful lasers and supercomputers. “The training of weapons designers is important, but we only have a couple of dozen of them,” he says. “It’s not a big deal.”