Today, we released a report on how much the US spends on nuclear weapons: “Resolving Ambiguity: Costing Nuclear Weapons.” Though there are official estimates and independent studies, no study has yet definitively answered the question of how much the US spends.
Our study tries to close the possible ranges of how much nukes cost through two key contributions to the debate: 1) clarifying definitional issues: making sure estimates are compared in an apples to apples fashion, and 2) using a new and different methodology to estimate the most uncertain parts of nuclear weapons spending—the supporting costs within the Department of Defense.
All told, the report found $31B of spending on nuclear weapons in one year. It also provides a 10 year estimate ranging from $350-$390B.
At the least, the report shows that official estimates of nuclear spending understate the costs, and describes why. But the estimate also helps bound how much is spent on nuclear weapons, all in a transparent and repeatable methodology.
Hopefully, this report will help resolve some of the ambiguity that continues to cloud debates about nuclear weapons spending, and allow the real policy debate to come through.