Yearly funding for U.S. nuclear weapons activities totals nearly $31 billion, roughly $11 billion more than what government figures indicate, Arms Control Today reported in its latest edition (see GSN, May 25).
The determination was the result of a new calculation technique, the independent Arms Control Association said in a press release on Monday. It finds "that the differences between previous cost estimates can be explained by two factors: a tendency to count different things, and a Pentagon budget that is hard to fathom," the organization said.
"Once these two issues are addressed, there is little disagreement about the cost of nuclear weapons," according to the analysis by Russell Rumbaugh and Nathan Cohn of the Henry L. Stimson Center.
The $31 billion figure encompasses $22.7 billion in defense funding for nuclear-weapon carrier vehicles, command and control, scientific operations and associated expenses. The amount also includes $8.2 billion in Energy Department funding for efforts involving nuclear arms, navy atomic systems and other operations.
Lawmakers and nongovernmental organizations late last year offered estimates for nuclear spending that were both higher and lower than the assessment issued this week (see GSN, Dec. 2, 2011).
"At the very least, this study should clarify that official estimates relying on a narrow definition of nuclear weapons understate the actual amounts the United States spends on nuclear weapons," the Stimson writers stated.
It makes sense to count as nuclear weapons spending the budgets for antimissile efforts, ecological remediation activities and activities to prevent the illicit spread of nuclear substances and systems, according to the report. Excluding such operations in cost assessments would also be justifiable, the analysts determined.
"The study has demonstrated that nuclear weapons do incur costs greater than the ones the official estimates describe, no matter how narrowly nuclear weapons spending is defined," Rumbaugh and Cohn added (Arms Control Association release, June 4).
Yearly funding for U.S. nuclear weapons activities totals nearly $31 billion, roughly $11 billion more than what government figures indicate, Arms Control Today reported in its latest edition.