Experts: America Doesn’t Need All These Nukes


An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Image: USAF
Nuclear deterrence can be way less pricey, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

By David Axe | MOTHERBOARD

It could cost the United States $1.2 trillion to maintain and modernize its existing nuclear arsenal between 2017 and 2046, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported this week.

But nuclear deterrence doesn’t need to be so pricey, the CBO asserted. Researchers have proposed alternatives that could save US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

The projected $40 billion annual tab, incurred by the Defense Department and the Department of Energy, pays for upkeep on America’s 4,000 atomic warheads. Under the terms of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, the US military can legally keep just 1,550 of the warheads in a high state of readiness.

The overall cost includes the price of the so-called „nuclear triad,“ the military term for the 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 12 nuclear-missile submarines, and 120 stealth bombers that, under current plans, will carry the 1,550 deployed warheads in coming decades.

But the United States could probably deter Russia, China, North Korea, and other nuclear powers with a much smaller force, the CBO explained. „Several recent studies have argued that the United States should pursue a policy of minimum deterrence, which means that the number of deployed warheads would be substantially reduced from today’s levels,“ the report reads.

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