An American Physical Society panel is urging the federal government to wait until key technical and policy issues are answered before embracing a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) proposal to build a multibillion-dollar facility to manufacture new plutonium cores for the US nuclear weapons stockpile.

The go-slow recommendation, released in a report in late April by the APS panel on public affairs, comes amid growing concern in Congress and among some arms control organizations that the Bush administration is laying the groundwork through budget requests and weapons studies for an eventual resumption of nuclear testing.

While the nuclear weapons debate has many facets, the recent push by NNSA to build a modern pit facility (MPF) to manufacture up to 450 plutonium cores per year has moved the “pits” issue to the forefront of the nuclear arsenal debate. A pit is the hollow metal-clad shell of plutonium that is the core...

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