Nuclear Weapons

Since 1949, Sandia’s scientists and engineers have conducted breakthrough research in weaponization.

Safe and secure nuclear weapons are of paramount importance in a changing global threat environment.

Sandia provides the science and engineering to help maintain and certify the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

America’s Nuclear Weapons Engineering Laboratory

Sandia’s primary mission is ensuring the U.S. nuclear arsenal is safe, secure, and reliable, and can fully support our nation’s deterrence policy. Sandia is the engineering arm of the U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise. We weaponize the nuclear explosive package to create an effective and sustainable nuclear deterrent.

The nation’s nuclear weapons must always work when commanded and authorized by the president of the United States, and must never detonate otherwise. Nuclear weapons must survive extremely complex and often harsh environments. They may remain dormant for decades, yet must be immediately available during high alert/readiness levels.

These highly complex technical challenges require a multi-disciplinary approach of systems engineering supported by deep science.

Sandia’s foundation is science-based engineering, in which fundamental science, computer models, and unique experimental facilities come together so researchers can understand, predict, and verify weapon systems performance.


Sandia is responsible for nuclear weapon systems and components over their entire lifecycle, from original design through final dismantlement and disposal.

Each year, Sandia assesses the reliability and safety of every active stockpile weapon type and documents its findings in a letter from the Laboratories president to the secretaries of energy and defense and the chairman of the Nuclear Weapons Council. This assessment becomes a key part of the annual formal report to the president of the United States on the overall condition of the stockpile.

National Security Impact

Sandia’s nuclear weapons work has benefited research efforts across the Labs and in U.S. technology for more than 60 years. We manage the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile; provide research, development, and testing services; and manufacture specialized non-nuclear products and components for national defense and security applications.

  • Radar for weapon delivery systems developed decades ago provided the base for Synthetic Aperture Radar, which is vital to military and intelligence communities and may help defeat a major threat to U.S. troops: improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
  • Command and control methods for weapon delivery systems formed the basis for today’s most sophisticated cybersecurity tools.

Scientific breakthroughs that benefit the nuclear weapons program, while solving important national security problems, come from strong connections to other mission areas and fundamental research.

*Take a rare video “tour” of Sandia National Laboratories’ nuclear weapons work and see the strong, multidisciplinary relationship between all of Sandia’s missions and capabilities. (YouTube, 8:59)

View All Sandia Openings