Defense: Arms Control: Nuclear Spending

U.S. Nuclear Weapons-Related Spending for FY 2008
U.S. Nuclear Weapons-Related Spending for FY 2008  

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Russia and US Sign Joint Understanding
Published Monday, July 6th, 2009

This week, President Obama is holding talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev regarding the further reduction of nuclear stockpiles. In a press briefing, both presidents expressed a desire to “reset” their relationship and work together on global issues that Russia called their “special responsibility.” One of the more pressing issues is the deadline for the START I treaty, which is to expire on December 5. Both Presidents signed a joint understanding that called for a legally binding treaty. The provisions call for the US and Russia to reduce their respective strategic warheads to a range of 1,000 to 1,675 — down from 2,200 — and their delivery vehicles to a range of 500 to 1,100. The previous START I treaty allowed for a maximum of 2,200 warheads and 1,600 vehicles.

Russia and the United States are the leading repositories of active and inactive nuclear warheads, topping out at 16,000 and 9960 respectively, followed far behind by France and the United Kingdom at around 200 warheads. The US campaign for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons has taken a more active role in reducing weapons as spending for the Defense program  doubled from $874 million to $1,726 million in 2007. Plus, what the US does have in warheads is maintained by $5 billion in test and analysis each year to ensure they are still viable weapons; reports for Russian spending for maintaining their stockpile is not available.

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Ignitable Warheads and Nuclear Spending
Published Thursday, January 29th, 2009

During his tenure under Former President George W. Bush, Secretary Gates advocated for what is called the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. He argued that the nations warheads, built in the 1970’s and 80’s, are in danger of losing the destructive power they once possessed. The heart of the weapon is a plutonium pit which is susceptible to radioactive decay and a buildup of impurities; thus, the warhead will eventually lose its ability to ignite properly or at all. The idea is that replacing the aging warheads would ensure greater predictability without field testing, which the US has banned since 1992.  There are opponents who believe that beginning a new batch of nuclear warheads will incite a new arms race as it will be seen as a move for US nuclear supremacy, and there are proponents who believe keeping our nuclear stockpiles up-to-date will ensure an effective deterrent. However, others believe that our priority should be securing what we and others do have, due to the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Currently, we are spending $5 billion a year to run analysis and computer tests on the existing nuclear stockpile’s health; Gates new plan will set the budget back some $100 billion. Spending on U.S. Nuclear Weapons-Related Appropriations for FY 2008 has reached an estimated at $52.4 billion. This number includes $29.093 billion for nuclear forces and support, $8.299 billion for deferred environmental and health cost, $9.189 billion for missile defense, $5.165 billion in nuclear threat reduction, and $0.700 billion for nuclear incident management.

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The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington, D.C. based 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan policy organization that produces timely research, analysis, and commentary on numerous peace and security issues.

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