June 20, 2011

$1000 Billion in Nuclear Weapons Modernization over Next Decade

From the Financial Times:
The world’s nine nuclear-armed powers are set to spend a total of $1,000bn on the procurement and modernisation of atomic weapons programmes over the next decade, according to an anti-nuclear weapons group whose cause has won high-level US support.

Global Zero, which is campaigning for abolition of the world’s nuclear arsen­als by 2030, will host a London conference this week attended by senior Russian, Indian, US and Chinese figures, among others. It aims to highlight how the cost of nuclear weapons is becoming ever more unaffordable for states whose defence budgets are hard pressed by the financial crisis.

According to the organisation, the nine nuclear states – the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea – are set to spend $100bn between them on nuclear arms programmes this year. The figure comprises the cost of researching, developing, procuring and testing nuclear weapons. Global Zero calculates that the states will spend the same amount in every year of this decade.
The organisation says spending on atomic weapons accounts for about 9 per cent of total defence spending in these countries – a proportion set to rise because budgets for conventional military hardware are being cut back in many countries.

The campaign to seek total abolition of nuclear weapons has received high-profile backing in recent years, notably from Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, two former US secretaries of state who have embraced the cause of multilateral disarmament. Barack Obama, the US president, has said the organisation “will always have a partner in me and my administration”.
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It's easy to find the Global Zero website, but I could not find any itemization there of how the organization reaches the $1 trillion figure. Is everybody spending exactly 9 percent of their defense budgets on nuclear related activities? The absence of specific figures for individual countries is annoying. The interactive graphic at Global Zero mentions the first nuclear explosion in New Mexico in 1945--but not Hiroshima. Its presentation shows nuclear proliferation occurring in the following sequence: Britain, France, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, India, China, North Korea. The actual sequence was Russia (1949), Britain (1952), France (1960), China (1964), Israel (1967), India (1974 and 1998), Pakistan (1998), and North Korea (2006). Why couldn’t the people at Global Zero take the trouble to get this right? The absence of supporting materials at the website--just a breathless but misleading tour through some basic facts, alongside spooky music--speaks poorly of this effort. However, this is a pretty good map (taken as a snapshot of their presentation):

The Arms Control Association has a summary of those states that had a nuclear program or nuclear weapons at one time, but no longer:
Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states. South Africa secretly developed and dismantled a small number of nuclear warheads and also joined the NPT in 1991. Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but was forced to verifiably dismantle it under the supervision of UN inspectors. . . . Libya voluntarily renounced its secret nuclear weapons efforts in December 2003. Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.

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