In June 2011, at the Global Zero Summit of world leaders in London, Global Zero released a report on the staggering $1 trillion per decade cost of nuclear weapons globally.
At a time of economic crisis and austerity measures, world governments wrestle with grim choices – like cuts to education, healthcare, public safety and other essential services. But one cut is a no-brainer: bloated nuclear weapons budgets worldwide.
Building upon the two definitive studies of U.S. nuclear weapons spending (Brookings Institution’s Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Nuclear Security Spending: Assessing Costs, Examining Priorities), this report casts a wider net to capture the entire world’s spending on nuclear weapons programs. The principal finding: a massive expenditure will be made over the next decade.
The nine nuclear weapons countries passed a new milestone in 2011 by collectively spending approximately $100 billion dollars on their nuclear programs. This conservatively estimated expenditure represents about 9% of their total annual military spending.
At this rate the nuclear-armed states will spend at least $1 trillion on nuclear weapons and their direct support systems over the next decade. It will likely go significantly higher as numerous modernization programs underway are ramped up. It would go higher still if the true intentions of many non-nuclear weapons countries could be divined and their secret weapons programs added to the total.
Consensus is growing among budget and security experts: nukes cost billions and do not make the world safer or more secure. Cutting our bloated nuclear weapons budget would save hundreds of billions of dollars and help keep things we value off the chopping block.