The Nuclear Budget: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it

Two weeks ago, Russia released the first declassified photos of its new RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile or Satan 2 (a missile reportedly capable of destroying Texas). Likewise, earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force released the first details about its in-development B-21 Raider (a bomber that aspires to be undetectable to radar and taxpayers).

Both the United States and Russia are in the early stages of robust nuclear modernization programs to update each leg of their respective nuclear triads—planes, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarines—over the next 30 years. These new weapons would add to what already are the two largest nuclear forces in the world.

 So how much does it all cost and where does the money go? 

Our colleagues at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) have the answers. They just launched a new chapter to NTI’s tutorial series: a new tutorial on the US nuclear budget, highlighting the best numbers available.

The short answer is that the entire nuclear enterprise – including nuclear forces, threat reduction, missile defense, cleanup and even health care for workers affected by radiation from the US nuclear weapons programs – totaled approximately $42.3 billion in 2015.

That number is expected to rise as the Air Force and Navy develop new missiles, bombers, and submarines as part of the modernization program. Below, you will see the PROJECTED long-term costs of the nuclear triad: 

As noted in our tutorial, CNS has projected that over the next thirty years, the total cost of maintaining and updating the triad could reach $1 trillion.

November 10, 2016
Carter B. Bates
Carter B. Bates

Director of Digital Communications


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