NNSA Timeline

The NNSA was established by Congress in 2000 as a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs. In 2002 NNSA reorganized, removing a layer of management by eliminating its regional operations offices in New Mexico, California and Nevada. NNSA headquarters retained responsibility for strategic and program planning, budgeting and oversight of research, development and nonproliferation activities.

Check out our interactive timeline to learn about some of our historic accomplishments!
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August 02, 1939
Washington, DC
Albert Einstein Alerts President Roosevelt of German Atomic Energy Program

Albert Einstein writes President Franklin D. Roosevelt, alerting the President to the importance of research on nuclear chain reactions and the possibility that research might lead to developing powerful bombs. Einstein notes that Germany has stopped the sale of uranium and German physicists are engaged in uranium...

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January 19, 1942
Washington, DC
President Roosevelt Approves Production of Atomic Bomb

President Roosevelt approves production of the atomic bomb following receipt of a National Academy of Sciences report determining that a bomb is feasible.

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June 17, 1942
Washington, DC
President Roosevelt Establishes Manhattan Project

President Roosevelt instructs the Army to take responsibility for construction of atomic weapons complex. The Army delegates the task to the Corps of Engineers, which establishes the Manhattan Engineer District.

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September 19, 1942
Oak Ridge, TN
Oak Ridge, Tenn. Selected as Uranium Enrichment Site

Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, head of the Manhattan Engineer District, selects Oak Ridge, Tennessee, site for facilities to produce nuclear materials. Isotope separation of uranium235 takes place in the gaseous diffusion plant built in the K-25 area of the site, in the electromagnetic plant in the Y-12 area...

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November 25, 1942
Los Alamos, NM

Groves selects Los Alamos, New Mexico, as site for separate scientific laboratory to design an atomic bomb.

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December 02, 1942
Chicago, IL
Enrico Fermi Achieves First Self Sustain Nuclear Chain Reaction

Metallurgical Laboratory scientists led by Enrico Fermi achieve the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction in pile constructed under the west grandstand at Stagg field in Chicago.

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January 16, 1943
Hanford, WA
Hanford, WA Selected as Plutonium Production Facility

Groves selects Hanford, Washington, as site for full-scale plutonium production and separation facilities. Three reactors--B, D, and F--are built.

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July 16, 1945
Los Alamos, NM
First Plutonium Bomb Successfully Tested

Los Alamos scientists successfully test a plutonium implosion bomb in the Trinity shot at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

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August 06, 1945
Hiroshima, Japan
Little Boy Dropped on Hiroshima

The gun model uranium bomb, called Little Boy, is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

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August 09, 1945
Nagasaki, Japan
Fat Man Dropped on Nagasaki

The implosion model plutonium bomb, called Fat Man, is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Five days later, Japan surrenders.

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June 14, 1946
New York, NY
Baruch Plan Presented

Bernard Baruch presents the American plan for international control of atomic research to the United Nations. The Soviet Union opposes the plan, rendering it useless.

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August 01, 1946
Washington, DC
Truman Signs Atomic Energy Act

President Truman signs the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, leading to the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission.

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January 01, 1947
Washington, DC
Atomic Energy Commission Takes Over Responsibility for all Atomic Energy Program

In accordance with the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, all atomic energy activities are transferred to the newly created Atomic Energy Commission.

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January 31, 1950
Washington, DC
President Truman Orders Development of Thermonuclear Weapon

President Truman instructs the Atomic Energy Commission to expedite development of a thermonuclear weapon.

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October 09, 1950
Washington, DC
President Truman Increases Production of Uranium and Plutonium

President Truman approves a $1.4 billion expansion of Atomic Energy Commission facilities to produce uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons.

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December 20, 1951
Arco, ID
Electric Power Produced from Nuclear Reactor

The Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 located at the National Reactor Testing Station near Arco, Idaho, produces the first electric power from a nuclear reactor.

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December 31, 1952
Enewetak Atoll
First Thermonuclear Device Successfully Tested

The Atomic Energy Commission detonates the first thermonuclear device, code-named "Mike," at Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific. The device explodes with a yield of 10.4 megatons.

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December 08, 1953
New York, NY
President Eisenhower Delivers Atoms for Peace Speech

President Eisenhower delivers his "Atoms for Peace" before the United Nations and proposes an international agency to promote peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

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January 21, 1954
Thames River (Groton, Conn.)
U.S. Navy Launches First Nuclear Sub

The first nuclear sub was launched in 1954 on the Thames River. Above, the U.S.S. Nautilus in front of the New York City skyline.

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August 22, 1958
Washington, DC
Eisenhower Halts Nuclear Weapons Testing

President Eisenhower announces a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing to begin on October 31, 1958.

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September 01, 1961
Washington, DC
Nuclear Weapons Testing Resumes

The Soviet Union breaks the nuclear test moratorium and the United States resumes testing.

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July 06, 1962
Nevada Test Site, NV
Atomic Energy Commission Explores Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Explosions

As part of the Plowshare program seeking to develop peaceful uses for nuclear explosives, the Atomic Energy Commission conducts the Sedan test at the Nevada Test Site.

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October 01, 1962
Cuba
Cuban Missile Crisis

Reconnaissance reveals Soviet missiles in Cuba. The United States blockades Cuba for 13 days until the Soviet Union agrees to remove its missiles.

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August 05, 1963
Washington, DC
Limited Test Ban Treaty Signed

The United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty prohibiting underwater, atmospheric, and outer space nuclear tests. Nuclear testing continues underground.

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March 05, 1970
New York, United States
NPT Signed

The United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and forty-five other nations sign the Treaty for the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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October 11, 1974
Washington, DC
President Ford Signs the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974

President Ford signs the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974. The Atomic Energy Commission is abolished. The Energy Research and Development Administration, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Energy Resources Council are established.

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November 25, 1974
Washington, DC
Zarb Appointed to Lead the Federal Energy Administration

President Ford appoints Frank Zarb to be the first Administrator of the newly created Federal Energy Agency.

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January 19, 1975
Washington, DC
Robert C. Seamans, Jr. Appointed to Lead Nuclear Weapons Program

The Energy Research and Development Administration is activated. The new agency is given responsibility for the Atomic Energy Commission's nuclear weapons program. President Ford appoints Robert C. Seamans, Jr., as Administrator.

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February 07, 1977
Washington, DC
John. F. O'Leary Appointed to Lead Federal Energy Administration

John F. O'Leary is named Administrator, Federal Energy Administration. Administrator O'Leary previously served as the administrator of the Energy Resources Board of the State of New Mexico.

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April 18, 1977
Washington, DC
President Carter Calls for Department of Energy

President Carter announces National Energy Plan in his first major energy speech. His plan calls for the establishment of an energy department.

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August 01, 1977
Washington, D
Department of Energy Established

President Carter signs the Department of Energy Organization Act. The Federal Energy Administration and Energy Research and Development Administration are abolished. James R. Schlesinger is sworn in as first Secretary of Energy. The DOE brings together a score of organizational entities from a dozen...

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August 24, 1979
Washington, DC
Charles Duncan Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

Charles W. Duncan, Jr., is sworn in as second Secretary of Energy.

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January 23, 1981
Washington, DC
James Edwards Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

James B. Edwards is sworn in as third Secretary of Energy.

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October 08, 1981
Washington, DC
President Reagan Calls for a National Spent Fuel Storage Facility

The Reagan Administration announces a nuclear energy policy that anticipates the establishment of a facility for the storage of high-level radioactive waste and lifts the ban on commercial reprocessing of nuclear fuel.

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November 11, 1982
Washington, DC
Donald Hodel Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

Donald Paul Hodel is sworn in as fourth Secretary of Energy.

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January 07, 1983
Washington, DC
Nuclear Waste Policy Act Signed

President Reagan signs the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the Nation's first comprehensive nuclear waste legislation.

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February 07, 1985
Washington, DC
John Herrington Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

John S. Herrington is sworn in as fifth Secretary of Energy.

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April 26, 1986
Chernobyl, Ukraine
Chernobyl Nuclear Accident

A catastrophic nuclear accident occurs at Chernobyl Reactor #4 in the then Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

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September 01, 1986
Vienna, Austria
Sec. Herrington Leads Delegation in Response to Chernobyl Accident

Secretary Herrington leads U.S. delegation to Special Session of the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna, Austria, to discuss measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear safety and radiological protection in aftermath of Chernobyl.

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January 12, 1987
Washington, DC
2010 Report Released

White House releases "2010 Report," projecting requirements for maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapon production complex through the year 2010.

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March 09, 1989
Washington, DC
James Watkins Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

James D. Watkins is sworn in as sixth Secretary of Energy.

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July 31, 1991
Russia Moscow, USSR
START Signed

President Bush signs the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which will reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles to 6,000 "accountable" warheads.

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May 10, 1992
Washington, DC
U.S. No Longer Building Any Nuclear Weapons

Secretary Watkins testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee that for the first time since 1945 the United States is not building any nuclear weapons.

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September 23, 1992
USA
Last U.S. Underground Nuclear Test Conducted

The United States conducts its last underground nuclear weapons test. Congress imposes a temporary moratorium on nuclear weapons testing.

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January 22, 1993
Washington, DC
Hazel O'Leary is Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

Hazel R. O'Leary is sworn in as seventh Secretary of Energy. She is the first and only female Secretary of Energy in the history of the department.

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July 03, 1993
Washington, DC
Clinton Extends Moratorium on Nuclear Weapons Testing

President Clinton extends the nuclear weapons testing moratorium for at least 15 months.

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March 12, 1997
Washington, DC
Frederico Pena Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

Federico F. Pena is sworn in as eighth Secretary of Energy.

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May 29, 1997
Livermore, CA
Groundbreaking at National Ignition Facility

Secretary Pena participates in the ground breaking ceremony for the National Ignition Facility, a centerpiece of the stockpile stewardship program, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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June 20, 1997
Hanford, WA
Plutonium Processing Plant Deactivated

The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility (PUREX), the largest of the Nation's Cold War plutonium processing plants, is deactivated a year ahead of schedule.

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July 02, 1997
Nevada Test Site, NV
First Subcritical Experiment Conducted at Nevada Test Site

The first "subcritical" physics experiment at the Nevada Test Site, code-name "Rebound," provides scientific data on the behavior of plutonium without underground nuclear-weapons testing.

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January 22, 1998
Carlsbad, NM
DOE Announces Plans for WIPP

The Department of Energy announces that it will dispose of defense-generated transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico.

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August 01, 1998
Washington, DC
Nuclear Navy Turns 50

Crew members of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, spell out NR-50! To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Navy. Admiral Hyman G. Rickover formed the Nuclear Power Branch within the Navy’s Bureau of Ships in August 1948. The Office of Naval Reactors is an integrated...

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August 18, 1998
Washington, DC
Bill Richardson Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

Bill Richardson is sworn in as ninth Secretary of Energy. He makes history while briefly serving in two cabinet posts at once -- both as Secretary of Energy and U. S. ambassador for the United Nations -- for several weeks.

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March 26, 1999
Carlsbad, NM
WIPP Receives First Shipment

After more than two decades of political, legal, and bureaucratic delays, the first truckload of radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory arrives at the DOE Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles east of Carlsbad.

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June 11, 1999
Livermore, CA
NIF Target Chamber Dedicated

Secretary Richardson dedicates the National Ignition Facility target chamber at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

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October 13, 1999
Washington, DC
Senate Rejects Test Ban Treaty

The Senate votes 48-51 to reject the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

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March 01, 2000
Washington, DC
NNSA Established

The Department activates the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), meeting the statutory deadline established by the FY 2000 defense authorization act. NNSA's mission is to carry out the national security responsibilities of the Department of Energy, including maintenance of a safe, secure, and...

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September 01, 2000
Washington, DC
U.S. and Russia Sign Plutonium Disposition Agreement

After two years of negotiations, Vice President Gore and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov sign an agreement to dispose of 68 metric tons (34 metric tons for each country) of weapons grade plutonium. Under the agreement, the surplus plutonium will be irradiated in nuclear reactors or by immobilizing it...

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January 20, 2001
Washington, DC
Spencer Abraham Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

George W. Bush becomes the 43rd president of the United States. Secretary of Energy-designate Spencer Abraham and six other cabinet nominees are confirmed as a group by the Senate in one voice vote. Following the Inaugural Parade, Spencer Abraham is sworn in as the tenth Secretary of Energy.

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January 23, 2002
Washington, DC
DOE Will Dispose of 34 Metric Tons of Plutonium by Turning it into Fuel for Civi

Secretary Abraham announced that DOE will dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons grade plutonium by turning the material into mixed oxide fuel (MOX) for use in nuclear reactors. The decision follows an exhaustive Administration review of non-proliferation programs, including alternative technologies to...

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May 24, 2002
Washington, DC
Bush and Putin Sign Arms Reduction Accord

President Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed agreement to reduce each country's nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warhead. "Each country," the agreement states, "shall determine for itself the composition and structure of its strategic offensive arms." The two leaders also agreed to...

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September 28, 2002
Nevada Test Site, NV
LANL Conducts Watusi Experiment

The Los Alamos National Laboratory conducts Watusi, a spectacular high-explosives experiment with a yield equivalent to about 37,000 pounds of TNT, at the Nevada Test Site’s Big Explosive Experimental Facility (BEEF). The experiment seeks to demonstrate that existing seismic and infrasound sensors at the test...

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October 01, 2002
Washington, DC
DOE Turns 25

The Department of Energy marked the 25th anniversary of its establishment in 1977.

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December 20, 2002
Washington, DC
NNSA Streamlines Operations

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) implemented a new organizational structure that eliminates a layer of management and seeks to achieve a 20 percent reduction in federal personnel by the end of Fiscal Year 2004. Three operations offices—at Oakland, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque—were eliminated,...

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April 22, 2003
Los Alamos, NM
LANL Produces First Plutonium Pit in 14 Years

NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announced that it has successfully made the first nuclear weapons “pit” in 14 years that meets specifications for use in the U.S. stockpile. The plutonium pit, called Qual-1 because it was built with and fully met qualified processes, is for the W88 warhead, which...

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May 16, 2003
Washington, DC
Amb. Linton Brooks Sworn in as NNSA Administrator

Secretary Abraham administers the oath of office to Ambassador Linton F. Brooks to be administrator of DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration and under secretary of energy for nuclear security. Brooks has held both positions in an acting capacity since July 2002.

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July 08, 2003
Nevada Test Site, NV
LLNL Conducts First Plutonium Shot Using the JASPER Gas Gun

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) successfully executes the first plutonium shot using the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) gas gun at NNSA's Nevada Test Site. LLNL scientists use the 100-foot, two-stage gas gun to fire a...

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November 03, 2003
Washington, DC
Nuclear Radiological Threat Task Force Established

NNSA's Administrator Linton Brooks announces the establishment of the Nuclear Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force (NRTRTF) to combat the threats posed by radiological dispersion devices or “dirty bombs.”

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December 12, 2003
Pantex, TX
The Last W-79 Warhead Dismantled

The Nuclear Security Administration's Pantex facility outside Amarillo, Texas, dismantles the last nuclear artillery shell, the W-79, in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. “This administration is committed to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons world wide,” says Secretary Abraham. “We have completed dismantlement...

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May 26, 2004
Vienna, Austria
NNSA Launches Global Threat Reduction Initiative

Secretary Abraham, in a speech to delegates at the International Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, launches the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), a comprehensive effort to secure and remove high-risk nuclear and radiological materials that continue to pose a threat to the U.S. and the international...

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November 08, 2004
Aiken, SC
NNSA Reaches LEU Disposal Milestone

The National Nuclear Security Administration's reached an important milestone in its efforts to dispose of surplus weapons-usable material as the 100th shipment of low enriched uranium (LEU) departed the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina for Nuclear Fuels Services in Erwin, Tennessee, four months...

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November 19, 2004
Amarillo TX
NNSA Successfully Completes W87 Refurbishment

NNSA announced the successful completion at the Pantex Plant outside of Amarillo, Texas, of efforts to refurbish the W87 nuclear warhead and extend its life by 30 years. This marks the end of the first leg of NNSA’s program to ensure that the nation's aging nuclear weapons stockpile is capable of meeting...

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December 10, 2004
Moscow, Russia
NNSA Celebrates 10 Years of Cooperation with Russia in Securing Nuclear Material

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) commemorated ten years of work securing nuclear and radiological material in Russia and the former Soviet Union by completing security upgrades at two Russian nuclear facilities. Upgrades at a third facility were completed in September. The completion of...

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January 31, 2005
Washington, DC
Samuel Bodman Sworn in as Secretary Energy

Samuel Bodman is sworn in as the eleventh Secretary of Energy.

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February 01, 2005
Bratislava, Slovak Republic
U.S. and Russia Sign Bratislava Accord

President Putin and President Bush agreed to pursue an initiative on nuclear security cooperation at a February 2005 summit in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. This agreement includes for the first time a comprehensive joint action plan for the cooperation on security upgrades of Russian nuclear facilities at...

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October 14, 2005
Aiken, SC
NNSA Holds Groundbreaking at MOX Facility

NNSA's plutonium disposition program moved another step forward with the start of site preparation for its Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham led a group of U.S. and Russian dignitaries in turning the first...

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June 29, 2006
Amarillo TX
Last W56 Warhead Dismantled

NNSA Administrator Amb. Brooks announced that the last W56 nuclear warhead has been dismantled. The 1960s era system has been safely and securely taken apart and will never again be a part of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

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June 30, 2006
Washington, DC
NNSA Completes B61 Warhead Refurbishment

NNSA completed a six-year effort to deliver the first refurbished B61 nuclear bomb. This program will extend the life of the B61 Mod-7 and Mod-11 strategic bombs in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

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December 07, 2006
Washington, DC
Secure Freight Initiative Launched to Secure U.S. From Nuclear and Radiological

The Department of Homeland Security and the DOE/NNSA announced the first phase of the Secure Freight Initiative, an unprecedented effort to build upon existing port security measures by enhancing the federal government’s ability to scan containers for nuclear and radiological materials overseas and to better...

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March 20, 2007
Oak Ridge, TN
Uranium Weapons Components Successfully Dismantled

Continuing its efforts to reduce the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, the National Nuclear Security Administration announced that uranium components from two major nuclear weapons systems formerly deployed on U.S. Air Force missiles and aircraft have been dismantled at the Y-12 National Security...

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January 09, 2009
Washington, DC
The Final B61 Refurbished Warhead Returns to the U.S. Stockpile

The final refurbished B61 strategic nuclear bomb has entered into the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, completing an eight-year effort. This program extended beyond their original intended life both the B61 mod 7 and mod 11 strategic bombs, and was completed almost one year early.

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January 21, 2009
Washington, DC
Steven Chu Sworn in as Secretary of Energy

Steven Chu is sworn in as the twelfth Secretary of Energy.

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February 23, 2009
Amarillo, TX
The First W76 Warhead Returns to Service

The first refurbished W76 nuclear warhead has been accepted into the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile by the Navy. This culminates a ten year effort to ensure that the aging warhead, already years beyond its original intended life, can continue to be a reliable part of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

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April 05, 2009
Prague, Czech Republic
President Obama Calls for an End to Nuclear Weapons

President Obama in a landmark speech in Prague, Czech Republic called nuclear weapons the gravest threat to international security and advocates for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.

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September 24, 2009
New York, NY
President Obama Chairs Historic UN Security Council Meeting

On September 24, 2009, President Obama chaired an historic meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), during which the UNSC unanimously cosponsored and adopted a resolution aimed at implementing the nuclear security agenda President Obama outlined in his Prague speech.

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April 12, 2010
Washington, DC
President Obama Hosts Global Nuclear Security Summit

President Obama hosts a Global Nuclear Security Summit to facilitate discussion on the nature of the nuclear threat and develop steps that can be taken together to secure vulnerable materials, combat nuclear smuggling and deter, detect, and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism.

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