A new law authorizing the Department of Defense and the nuclear weapons operations of the Department of Energy for the current fiscal year includes provisions that loosen controls on international scientific cooperation in space and that encourage establishment of US production sources for a key medical radioisotope. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) also orders DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to resume construction of a new plutonium pit fabrication plant at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a project the Obama administration had wanted to delay for at least five years. The law authorizes $70 million in FY 2013 for the project, known as the chemical and metallurgy replacement facility, sets a deadline of 2026 for its completion, and caps its cost at $3.7 billion.

But the final version of the 680-page NDAA signed into law by President Obama on 3 January did not contain House-passed provisions that would have ordered...

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