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Y-12 National Security Complex Completes W69 Dismantlement via National Nuclear Security Administration

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Dismantlement of W69 canned subassemblies (CSAs) has been completed at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The W69 was the warhead for the short-range attack missile (SRAM) and was retired from the U.S. nuclear stockpile in 1992. The last W69 weapon was dismantled in 1999. The Y-12 site originally assembled the W69 CSA in the 1970s and began disassembly in 2012.

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Taking apart nuclear weapons is a complex process that involves almost all of the sites within the nuclear security enterprise. Prior to starting the dismantlement process, NNSA’s design laboratories identify and mitigate hazards that may arise for a particular weapon type or component based on unique knowledge gained during the original design process.

Once retired weapons are returned to the Pantex Plant, high explosives are removed from the plutonium pit constituting a weapon dismantlement. Plutonium pits from dismantled weapons are placed in highly secure storage at Pantex, while uranium parts including CSAs are moved to Y-12 and other non-nuclear components are sent to the Savannah River Site and the National Security Campus at Kansas City for final disposition. Y-12 continues the dismantlement process, taking apart CSAs and recovering needed materials.

Dismantlement not only prevents the potential misuse of nuclear material but also allows recycling of the material for national defense uses such as weapon refurbishment (the Life Extension Program) and fuel for the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered fleet.

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