Nuclear Weapons | Analysis and New Insights

Accelerating the Implementation of Holistic Advanced Manufacturing to Meet US Nuclear Enterprise Needs

Kathryn Dura | July 2020


For decades, the aging US nuclear enterprise has continued to crumble despite various efforts to curb the decline, including executive guidance and congressional funding. The system is now further strained by new requirements to build modern nuclear weapons and munitions to provide adequate flexibility in the current and future international security environments. Therefore, there is a dire need to accelerate the backlogged modernization of the US nuclear enterprise. This can be accomplished by utilizing advanced manufacturing: the implementation of a suite of emerging technologies, including big data and analytics, autonomous robots, the industrial Internet of Things, and additive manufacturing. By holistically implementing this method of industrial production rather than applying a select few aspects of advanced manufacturing in a piecemeal approach, the US nuclear enterprise can achieve efficient modernization, increasing nuclear production and safety while reducing costs in terms of time and money.

This Analysis and New Insights explores ways in which US nuclear weapons development and storage facilities can efficiently implement a holistic approach toward advanced manufacturing to meet increased nuclear demand. It concludes with actionable policy recommendations and a review of concerns regarding the application of advanced manufacturing to nuclear weapons facilities.


Kathryn Dura graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania where she served as an inaugural Perry World House Student Fellow. She was a Joseph S. Nye Jr. Technology and National Security Research Intern at the Center for a New American Security and currently serves as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy. Dura is a 2019 participant in the Stanley Center for Peace and Security’s Accelerator Initiative.

The Stanley Center Accelerator Initiative is a unique mentorship and career-development opportunity for a small cohort of early-career women working in nuclear, international security, or technology policy. Participants chosen to be part of the Accelerator Initiative join the center’s policy dialogues, hone and  demonstrate their expertise, expand their networks, elevate their profiles, and deepen their interest in issues at the intersection of emerging technologies and nuclear weapons policy. Each “accelerator” develops a research question over the course of the year, to be expanded into a policy paper with support and feedback from an expert adviser of her choice. Accelerators are chosen through a rigorous application process each December. For more information:

The views and opinions expressed by the author do not represent the policies or positions of the US Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the Stanley Center for Peace and Security, and are the sole responsibility of the author.