U.S. is leading the global spending on nuclear weapons, says ICAN report

Categories: Articles

By

May 20, 2020

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Countercurrents Collective

The world’s nuclear powers are increasingly streaming money into their nuclear arsenals, and the U.S. is leading the trend, says a new report.

The U.S. has also exited a major arms control treaty and deployed a new tactical weapon.

The report – Enough is Enough: 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending (May 2020) – by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said: Nine nuclear-armed nations spent an estimated $72.9 billion on their 13,000-plus atomic weapons in 2019. At $35.4 billion in spending, the U.S. accounts for nearly half the global total.

The ICAN pointed out, all this money spent for nuclear armaments have done nothing to protect any of these countries from Covid-19.

“It’s clear now more than ever that nuclear weapons do not provide security for the world in the midst of a global pandemic, particularly when there are documented deficits of healthcare supplies and exhausted medical professionals,” said Alicia Sanders-Zakre, the lead author of the report.

The ICAN estimates that the nine nuclear-armed countries’ nuclear spending in 2019, equals $138,699 every minute of 2019, and a $7.1 billion increase from 2018.

The report said:

These estimates (rounded to one decimal point) include nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems operating costs and development where these expenditures are publically available and are based on a reasonable percentage of total military spending on nuclear weapons when more detailed budget data is not available.

The ICAN has urged all nuclear-armed states to be transparent about nuclear weapons expenditures to allow for more accurate reporting on global nuclear expenditures and better government accountability.

It said:

Due to lack of reliable and consistent information, these estimates do not include the costs to remediate the environment contaminated by nuclear weapons or to compensate victims of nuclear weapon use and testing, although these are also important markers of the added financial and human cost of nuclear weapons.

A 2011 Global Zero cost estimate, which added “unpaid/deferred environmental and health costs, missile defenses assigned to defend against nuclear weapons, nuclear threat reduction and incident management” found that this “full” cost of global nuclear arsenals was over 50% higher than just the cost of nuclear weapons system maintenance and development.

U.S.: $35.4 billion

The report said:

The United States has 5,800 nuclear weapons, which it can launch from land-based missiles, submarines and aircraft. The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Department of Defense divide responsibilities for the nation’s nuclear weapons. The NNSA is responsible for the research, development, production and dismantlement of the nuclear warheads themselves, while the Department of Defense manages the development of warhead delivery systems, such as missiles, aircraft, and submarines. The Department of Defense also manages the deployment of nuclear weapons once they are fully produced. This figure combines Department of Defense and NNSA enacted funding for nuclear weapons in 2019. NNSA spent $11.1 billion in 2019 on weapons activities. The Defense Department requested $24 billion for nuclear weapons systems in fiscal year 2019, including $11 billion for nuclear force sustainment and operations, $7 billion for replacement programs, and $6 billion for nuclear command, control, and communications. Congress added another $319 million to the Defense Department’s request in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, bringing enacted Defense Department spending on nuclear weapons to $24.3 billion. Adding $11.1 billion to $24.3 billion results in a total of $35.4 billion spent on nuclear weapons in the United States in 2019. This is roughly five per cent of total U.S. military spending in 2019. The United States spent $67,352 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons. The United States spent $29.6 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons, $19 billion requested for the Department of Defense and $10.6 billion enacted for the NNSA.

China: $10.4 billion

The report said:

China has 320 nuclear weapons and can launch nuclear weapons from land-based missiles, aircraft and submarines.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated that in 2019 China spent $261.082 billion on military expenditures. Four per cent of $261.082 billion is $10.4 billion, our estimate for Chinese nuclear spending in 2019. This means China spent $19,786 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons. Based on this methodology, China spent $10 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

UK: $8.9 billion

The report said:

The United Kingdom (UK) has 195 nuclear weapons, which it can launch from submarines. It cooperates closely with the United States to produce its nuclear warheads and loans its Trident II (D-5) submarine-launched ballistic missiles from the United States. Its primary nuclear weapon costs, therefore, consist of nuclear operating costs and the development of the Dreadnought-class submarine to replace its current Vanguard-class nuclear submarine. A 2016 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament report calculated that the overall cost to replace the UK nuclear submarine program will be £205 billion.

A 2018 BASIC report calculated that annual UK nuclear operating costs are £2 billion and reported that the United Kingdom is scheduled to spend £5.2 billion on its Dreadnought development program from 2018-2019. The Dreadnought program costs include£1.8 billion for the submarines, £1.4 billion for the missiles and warheads, £790 million for propulsion systems and £220 million in management costs. There is little public information about what is included in £2 billion operating costs for the UK nuclear arsenal. Adding those two components together leads to an estimated £7.2 billion spent on nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom in 2019, or $8.9 billion. £7.2 billion is 19 per cent of 2019 United Kingdom defense spending, estimated at £38.093 billion. This means the United Kingdom spent $16,933 every minute on nuclear weapons in 2019. Based on this methodology, the UK also spent about $8.9 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

Russia: $8.5 billion

Russia has 6,370 nuclear weapons, which it can launch from land-based missiles, submarines and aircraft. A 2018 SIPRI report found that Russian spending to maintain and develop new nuclear warheads and delivery systems has in recent years (in 2010 and 2016) cost about 13 per cent of total defense expenditures. SIPRI estimated Russian nuclear spending at $65.103 billion in 2019. 13 percent of $65.103 billion is $8.5 billion, our estimate for Russian nuclear spending in 2019. This means Russia spent $16,172 every minute on nuclear weapons in 2019. Based on this methodology, Russia spent $8 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

France: $4.8 billion

France has 290 nuclear weapons and can launch nuclear weapons from aircraft and submarines. The 2019 French military programming law allocated €4.45 billion for “dissuasion” or nuclear deterrence. The law does not break down the costs within this line item, but does state that it includes the annual costs for French nuclear warheads, modernization of its nuclear-capable cruise missiles, submarine-launched missiles and submarines. Notably not included in the deterrence budget are costs associated with the Rafale aircraft, which can be used to launch nuclear weapons. Given that these costs are not publicly available, our estimate assumes that the deterrence budget covers the bulk of French nuclear spending and does not include the costs of the Rafale. €4.45 billion converted to USD is $4.8 billion. France spent roughly 15 per cent of its total military budget (€30.249 billion) on nuclear weapons in 2019.11 This means France spent $9,132 on nuclear weapons every minute in 2019. France spent €4.04 billion ($4.4 billion) in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

India: $2.3 billion

The report said:

India is estimated to have 150 nuclear weapons, can launch nuclear weapons from land-based missiles and likely from aircraft, and is developing a submarine-launched nuclear capability. While little is known about Indian nuclear weapon spending, a October 2016 Stimson Center report shed some light on Indian nuclear spending by looking at parliamentary oversight documents and creating a methodology to calculate annual spending on nuclear weapons. The report notes that a 2016 Indian parliamentary report stated that India spent 46% of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)’s budget on its nuclear-capable delivery systems. Given that about half of the U.S. nuclear budget goes to nuclear delivery systems, the Stimson Center report assumed that India’s total nuclear spending would be about twice what it spent on nuclear-capable delivery systems. ICAN’s research thus followed the Stimson Center’s methodology by taking 46% of the 2019-2020 DRDO budget (19,021.02 crore Indian rupees) to get 8749.669 crore Indian rupees and doubling it to reach 17,499.3384 crore Indian rupees. A crore is 10 million, so 17,499 crore is 174.990 billion Indian rupees. Converted into USD this total is $2.3 billion, our estimate for Indian nuclear spending in 2019. This is roughly three per cent of the $71.125 billion India spent on its military in 2019. India spent $4,376 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons. Based on this methodology, India spent $2.1 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

Pakistan: $1 billion

The report said:

Pakistan is estimated to have 160 nuclear weapons and can launch them from land-based missiles and aircraft and is developing the ability to launch them from submarines. Analysts in the past decade have estimated that Pakistan spends about ten per cent of its total military spending on its nuclear arsenal, which appeared to be confirmed by a parliamentary report in 2016 revealing that Pakistan spent 9.8 per cent of its official military budget on nuclear weapons that year. Ten per cent of Pakistan’s 2019 military spending ($10.256 billion) is $1 billion, our estimate for Pakistani nuclear spending in 2019. This means Pakistan spent $1,903 spent every minute on nuclear weapons in 2019. Based on this methodology, Pakistan spent $1.2 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

Israel: $1 billion

The report said:

Israel is estimated to have 90 nuclear weapons and is believed to be able to launch nuclear weapons from land-based missiles, submarines and aircraft. There is no reliable public information about Israeli nuclear spending, given that it publicly denies possessing nuclear weapons. Therefore, ICAN used an average percentage (five per cent) of what nuclear-armed countries spend on nuclear weapons out of total military spending. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated that in 2019 Israel spent $20.465 billion on its military. Five per cent of $20.465 billion is 1 billion, our estimate for Israeli nuclear spending in 2019. This means Israel spent $1,903 every minute on nuclear weapons in 2019. Based on this methodology, Israel spent $1 billion in 2018 on nuclear weapons.

The report’s Conclusion part said:

“The nuclear-armed states spent nearly three-quarters of one hundred billion dollars in 2019 on building and maintaining nuclear warheads and delivery systems. The incalculable human and environmental costs of nuclear weapons only add to this shocking figure. From 2018 to 2019, there was an estimated $7.1 billion increase in nuclear weapon spending, and these totals will only continue to rise in the next decade according to documented nuclear weapon programs and budgets in several nuclear-armed countries.

“Nuclear weapon spending is always a choice, and an opportunity cost.”

The report questioned:

“Will citizens and leaders choose to continue to throw away $73 billion on nuclear weapons, or will they join the majority of the world’s countries in choosing to ban these weapons of mass destruction all together?

According to the latest figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the U.S. contributed the lion’s share of the world’s $7.1 billion increase in nuclear expenditures between 2018 and 2019, with $5.8 billion in additional spending. This is actually higher than the U.S. share of global military spending, which amounted to 38 percent in 2019.

According to ICAN’s report Russia, which ICAN estimated had more warheads than the U.S., spent $8.5 billion on them in 2019. Russia’s spending is a quarter of the nuclear expenditure by the U.S. Russia is trailing China ($10.5 billion) and the UK ($8.9 billion).

Alarmed by U.S. efforts to bolster its nuclear arsenal, some experts in China have called for a drastic nuclear build-up of their own, in order to pressure the U.S. to the negotiating table.

Fears of medium-range ballistic missiles in Europe triggering a global nuclear war led to the 1987 INF arms control treaty, which banned such weapons from the continent – but U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration exited the treaty last year. Officially, the U.S. claimed Russia had been violating the treaty, but the U.S. provided no evidence in support of the claim. U.S. officials further argued the INF was obsolete anyway, because it did not apply to other nuclear powers, such as China.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Navy fielded new low-yield warheads for submarine-launched missiles, arguing in a series of position papers that this made nuclear war less likely because it would inject uncertainty into Russian efforts to “escalate to deescalate,” a concept apparently based not in actual Russian doctrine but in Western Cold War-era military fiction.

While ICAN noted that their figures are estimates based on a consistent methodology, the true cost of nuclear weapons would have to include the expenses of compensating the victims of testing and cleaning up the environmental contamination.

14 May 2020

Source: countercurrents.org

INFOCUS

EVENTS

VIDEOS

TWITTER