(Bloomberg) -- The most immediate winner from the Department of Energy’s fusion breakthrough fusion breakthrough is likely to be the military, which will get a new way to evaluate the US nuclear-weapons stockpile.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where the experiment took place, is one of the Department of Energy’s preeminent nuclear-weapons research centers. The data yielded by the fusion test will allow scientists to model what happens during a thermonuclear explosion. That helps to ensure the nation’s more-than-5,000 aging warheads can be deployed — effectively creating a new way to gauge the arms’ shelf life. 

“Fusion is an essential process in modern nuclear weapons,” said Marvin Adams, the deputy administration of defense programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration. “This achievement will advance our national security. It will lead to laboratory experiments that help NNSA defense programs continue to maintain confidence in our deterrent without nuclear explosive testing.”

The fusion breakthrough, which occurred Dec. 5 and was announced by the Biden administration Tuesday, follows months of nuclear saber rattling from the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin in September fueled concern over nuclear escalation with warnings that Russia would use all means available to defend the parts of Ukraine it had illegally annexed. Last week, he said Moscow might adopt a first-strike nuclear doctrine. 

The latest US fusion findings “underpin the credibility of our deterrent by demonstrating world-leading expertise in weapons-relevant technologies,” Adams said. “That is, we know what we are doing. 

The Department of Energy is administering a $1 trillion program to maintain and modernize US nuclear arms and the Lawrence Livermore lab located outside of San Francisco plays a key role in that effort. The US hasn’t tested a nuclear weapon in more than thirty years, imposing a voluntary moratorium made possible because of laboratory breakthroughs like the latest fusion experiment. 

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