The United States is set to spend over $1 trillion on its nuclear weapons over the next thirty years. That is no trivial sum. To place it in context, that amounts to 77 percent of the national student debt, which hovers around $1.3 trillion.
Part of the reason for this massive spending spree stems from necessity. Our current nuclear weapons systems are ageing and becoming obsolete. But rather than tailoring the next generation of nuclear deterrence to geopolitical realities, the United States is replacing its massive nuclear arsenal on a one-for-one basis as if the Cold War never ended.
The seven-hundred-pound B61-12 bombs will end up costing approximately $28 million a piece. That is more than 1.5 times what they would cost if the bombs were made of solid gold. In total the programmatic costs will total about $10 billion. A lot of that money can be saved by making sensible cuts. Recent analysis from the Stimson Center found that withdrawing the B61-12 from Europe entirely and retaining the U.S.-based bombs would result in $3.7 billion in savings between 2017 and 2021. Over the lifetime of the program, that figure would rise to more than $6.2 billion.
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