The US Nuclear
Arsenal - A Terribly
Costly Legacy
Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal of over 10,000 strategic warheads (of which 7,200 are operational) remains an enormously expensive proposition. Movement towards deep reductions or elimination of the U.S. nuclear stockpile could save tens of billions of dollars annually. Even modest steps like stopping procurement of Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Below are a few examples of the costs of our current nuclear arsenal:
1) Costs Since 1940 (to build, deploy, maintain, cleanup) $5.6 trillion (<#11)
2) Current Annual Costs, total U.S. nuclear arsenal $35 billion (<#22)
3) Annual Costs of Stockpile Stewardship Program (a Department of Energy program to maintain the existing nuclear stockpile and develop new nuclear warheads) $4.5 billion (<#33)
4) Cost of additional Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (in FY 2000 budget, produced by Lockheed Martin) $535 million (<#44)
5) Cost of maintaining 550 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (1997-2012, contract to TRW, Inc.) $3.4 billion (<#55)
6) Estimated costs of environmental cleanup of nuclear weapons research, testing, and production sites $227-410 billion (<#66)
1. Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1998), p. 4 ($5.5 trillion for 1940-1996, plus $35 billion per year for 1997-1999).

2. Schwartz, Atomic Audit, op. cit., p. 1; includes $25 billion for directly maintaining the arsenal plus $10 billion for associated costs of clean-up, missile defense, and victim compensation.

3. Greg Mello, Andrew Lichterman, and William Weida, "The Stockpile Stewardship Charade," Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 1999, available at m.

4. Conference report on the F.Y. 2000 Department of Defense budget. Data supplied by the Center on Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

5. Robert S. Norris and William M. Arkin, Natural Resources Defense Council "U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces, End of 1998," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 1999.

6. Atomic Audit, op cit., Chapter 6, p. 355 (extrapolated from Dept. of Energy estimates).
William D. Hartung
World Policy Institute
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