Trump Team Will Let Go Without Immediate Replacement Heads of Agency Responsible for Ensuring US Nuclear Weapons Are Secure


'Trump Basically Being Clueless'

UPDATE 01.10.2017:
Gizmodo has updated its story to state that rather than the Trump transition team asking the heads of the NNSA to leave on Jan. 20, "the Trump transition team has not asked the top two NNSA officials to stay on until they can be replaced." The effect is the same: as it stand now there will be no leadership at the top of the federal agency that ensure the security of America's nuclear weapons, and other nuclear materials.
The title has been updated to reflect this change, the story below has not been changed from the original:

The Donald Trump transition team is cleaning house of any and all Obama appointees, and that includes the heads of the National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal government agency responsible for ensuring America's nuclear weapons are safe and secure.

"According to an official within the Department of Energy, this past Friday, the President-elect's team instructed the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration and his deputy to clean out their desks when Trump takes office on January 20th," Gizmodo reports.

While it's customary for all political appointees to resign effective noon on January 20, generally the incoming administration will ask those in key areas for which they have not yet had nominees confirmed to stay until they are replaced. The Trump administration, according to multiple reports, has not done this.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which has a $12.6 billion budget and about 25,000 employees, is "a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science," according to its website. "NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad."

Gizmodo reports "Trump has ordered Under Secretary for Nuclear Security Frank Klotz and his deputy, Madelyn Creedon—both Obama appointees—to leave their posts, even if it means no one is in charge of maintaining the country's nuclear weapons. According to our Energy Department source, Trump's team has yet to nominate anyone to succeed them. Since both positions require Senate confirmation, if could be months before their chairs are filled. And the vacancies may extend beyond the leadership roles."

"There are scores more appointees within the department," our source told us. "Secretarial and administration appointments that don't require Senate confirmation, mostly performing policy, liaison, and strategic advisory capacities in support of the agency they're at. They serve at the will of the head of their agency. Those people are, theoretically, also out on inauguration day unless otherwise directed, which hasn't happened yet to my knowledge." 

The source later added, "I'm more and more coming around to the idea that we're so very very fucked."

While the lack of leadership isn't an immediate danger, it could place the agency's actions in disarray and it will leave them without anyone to advocate for their budget, and it will prohibit the agency from beginning any new work.

Bob Rosner, the Co-Chair of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists tells Gizmodo Trump's call last month for a nuclear arms race and for enhancing America's nuclear weapons is "a perfect example of Trump basically being clueless." Trump "didn't understand that we have a refurbishment program, according to Rosner.

"He didn't understand that, under Obama, that we'd rebuilt the entire production complex. So exactly what he would mean by 'strengthening the nuclear program,' it's a bit of a mystery. I don't know what he's talking about. We've done it already." 

Here are a few tweets from Klotz and the NNSA explaining what they do: 


You can respond directly to Donald Trump by sending your comments to him on Twitter: @RealDonaldTrump. He is on Facebook. The Trump Transition Team is on Twitter: @transition2017
You can also call the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for any Senator or Representative. 

(Why are we including this information?)

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page. To contact NCRM directly you can email us.

Image by NNSA via Flickr and a CC license 

Don't let Silicon Valley control what you read. Get more stories like this in your inbox each day.

* indicates required

See a mistake? Email corrections to: [email protected]