Paul Kreitz, who for the last two years helped manage planning and construction of new infrastructure to cast fresh nuclear-weapon cores at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is leaving lab manager Triad National Security in late April, a lab official said this week.
Kreitz was not one of Triad National Security’s key personnel. Before Los Alamos, he worked at a number of Department of Energy nuclear-weapon sites, including the long-shuttered Rocky Flats plant outside of Denver — the Cold War pit factory — and the Paducah Site in Kentucky.
Longtime Los Alamos hand Tim Nelson will come out of what turned out to be a very brief retirement — he left the lab in February 2020 — to replace Kreitz as division director for TA55 Capital Projects on an acting basis.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is on the hook to produce 30 war-usable plutonium pits — fissile nuclear weapon triggers — by 2030, beginning with 10 pits by fiscal year 2024, which starts Oct. 1, 2023. The Department of Energy’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is responsible for the lab, which is leading not only pit production, but modernization of two existing nuclear weapons this decade.
Together with a planned pit factory at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., to be built at the partially constructed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, the NNSA plans to cast a combined 80 pits annually by 2030. The agency has admitted it will be severely challenged to meet that milestone.
The new pits are intended for W87-1 warheads, which will tip Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSA) Missiles some time after those next-generation, nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles debut around 2030 or so. The first GBSD missiles will use W87-0 warheads: one of the two varieties that now tip the Minuteman III silo-based missiles that GBSD will replace. The Air Force plans to buy more than 650 GBSD missiles, of which it will deploy 400, replacing Minuteman III one-for-one.