WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — The United States is estimated to spend over $1 trillion over the next thirty years on upgrades and maintenance of its nuclear arsenal.
The report from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) released Tuesday finds that the US will likely spend over $1 trillion during the next three decades to maintain its current nuclear arsenal and purchase new, replacement systems. The defense budget needed will peak to levels comparable to the Reagan-era build-up of nuclear forces, the report states.
Specific concern is given to the replacement of systems set to begin expiring in 2030. US plans from 2024-2029 include the construction of five strategic submarines, 72 strategic bombers, and 240 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The planned amount of nuclear delivery vehicles is greater than that of China, the United Kingdom and France combined – although vast budget concerns remain.
“The strategic and financial challenges facing our country are enormous,” Jon Wolfsthal, CNS Deputy Director and former nuclear advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden, writes in the report. “Policy makers lack the basic information needed to make smart choices about our nuclear arsenal, putting both our deterrent and future reductions at risk.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in December that nuclear maintenance and modernization would cost $355 billion over the next decade, averaging $11 billion each year. However, Congress has refused to provide more than $8 billion annually in any recent budgets.
The CNS report, entitled “The Trillion Dollar Nuclear Triad: US Strategic Modernization over the Next Thirty Years,” does not include costly additional expenses for overruns and program delays.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reinforced US support for the country’s nuclear system and said the country will continue to invest in its programs.
“To modernize your nuclear weapons stockpile and assure that they continue to stay secure and safe, it takes money, it takes resources,” Hagel told Reuters after touring Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland Air Force Base, two facilities involved in maintaining nuclear weapons. “[The US] has always been willing to make that investment and I think it will continue to make it.”
The nuclear arms report comes as the United States and other Western powers engage in the EU-chaired P5+1 talks in Geneva to curb Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for loosened sanctions.