– The U.S. is decreasing the number of its deployed nuclear weapons while increasing money for nuclear weapons-related programs – a total of over $600 billion has been pledged over 10 years! It is clear that something is wrong with that equation…
– Nuclear weapons spending falls within two departments: the Department of Defense (weapons systems, like missiles and submarines) and the Department of Energy (the national labs – warhead modernization and nonproliferation programs)
– How many nuclear weapons do we have? (all numbers are approximate)
- The U.S. has 5,113 active and inactive nuclear warheads and 3,500 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement – total = 8,613 nuclear warheads
- “Active” = operationally deployed or ready to be deployed
- “Inactive” = warheads maintained without the component that increases the size of the blast
– Who else has nuclear weapons, and how many?
- China: 240 total warheads
- France: fewer than 300 warheads (all operational)
- Russia: 1,492 operationally deployed strategic warheads + 2,000 operational tactical warheads (shorter range) + 7,000 stockpiled strategic and tactical warheads – total = 10,492 nuclear warheads
- United Kingdom: fewer than 160 operationally deployed warheads – total stockpile = 225 nuclear warheads
- Other countries that have nuclear weapons but are not part of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime
- India: up to 100 nuclear warheads
- Pakistan: between 90-110 nuclear warheads
- Israel: between 75-200 nuclear warheads
- North Korea: has enough material for up to 12 warheads (withdrew from the NPT in 2003)
– How much does the U.S. spend on nuclear weapons?
- According to a 1998 Brookings Institution study, the total cost of US nuclear weapons and related programs since the 1940s has been $5.5 trillion
- This year, President Obama’s FY2013 budget request asked for $17.74 billion for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for nuclear weapons-related research and modernization (and nonproliferation programs) + more than $11 billion on Department of Defense nuclear weapons programs. Over the next 10 years, the US has committed to spending over $600 billion on nuclear weapons-related programs in the DOE and DOD.
– What are nuclear weapons for?
- Supposedly for national security, but if you look at the numbers you see that only Russia’s nuclear arsenal rivals the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal. Since Russia is no longer an enemy (the Cold War ended in 1991!) the only reason we have so many nuclear weapons is to keep parity with Russia’s nuclear weapons, and the only reason Russia has so many nuclear weapons is to keep pace with the size of the US nuclear arsenal. A very bad situation, but one that can and should be fixed.
- Today’s national security talk revolves more around protection against terrorists than it does around protection against all-out nuclear assault on the U.S. or our strategic interests… nuclear weapons do nothing to deter terrorists, who by definition have no territory to threaten + nuclear material and even nuclear weapons around the world could be stolen or sold to terrorist organizations, so having nuclear weapons actually makes us less safe (plus holding on to them makes them seem valuable, which is why some states may seek nuclear weapons for their own security)
- From a military perspective, nuclear weapons take away funding and personnel from missions and equipment that could actually be used, so even many in the military want to de-fund nuclear weapons programs (redirecting that money elsewhere in the military budget, but still it helps our argument to say that even the military knows they are useless and a waste of money!)
– Where to go to get information on tax tradeoffs for your state, city, and Congressional district (remember, trade off against the Department of Defense – it won’t be entirely nuclear weapon related spending and doesn’t include the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons activities, but it gives you an idea about where your tax dollars are spent): http://nationalpriorities.org/en/interactive-data/trade-offs/
– Where to get statistics on poverty in your area: http://halfinten.org/issues/articles/poverty-data-by-congressional-district/