One of the routine questions of budget estimating is what to include. The US' nuclear arsenal is no exception. It was with this in mind that we structuredour June nuclear costing report to be as transparent as possible, itemizing costs piece by piece while allowing analysts that use our work to set their own parameters. Our goal was to factually ground the figures for strategic offensive weapons so that the debate can move on to judgments about which programs warrant being included.
A number of different events suggest that has happened, including a reference in a Senate Energy and Water Appropriations hearing as well as citations in a two-part Washington Post investigation. Last week we again saw that evidence. In its recently released “What Nuclear Weapons Cost Us” report, Ploughshares departed from our study:
A comprehensive Stimson study estimates that DoD will spend between $268.9 and $301.7 billion to sustain, operate, and modernize the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal over the next ten years. The National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Department of Energy, is expected to spend between $91.8 and $99.1 billion on the strategic nuclear arsenal over the next ten years.
From that point Ploughshares added missile defenses, environmental and health costs, nuclear threat reduction, and nuclear incident management. All of these have clear connections to the nuclear arsenal. Adding them in generates Ploughshares’ cost estimate of $640 billion over the next ten years for the US’ strategic offensive weapons as well as other programs related to that arsenal.
We at Stimson are glad to see that our hard work in costing nuclear weapons continues to ground the larger debate.