Billions of Dollars Wasted on Nuclear Weapons

June 11th, 2020 - by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety & Nuclear Active

How Much Did the US Spend on Nuclear Weapons in 2019?

CCNS & Nuclear

(June 4, 2020) — According to a new report by the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, the US spent $35.4 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019. This figure includes $11.1 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy, and $24.3 billion to the Department of Defense. $67,352 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons.

In this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, some question whether these taxpayers’ dollars could fund the needed masks, gloves, personal protective equipment and other equipment for medical professionals and patients, as well as for essential workers across the country.

The report, entitled, Enough is Enough: 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending, carefully reviewed the nuclear weapons budgets of nine nuclear-armed countries. They are: China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the US In 2019, the nine countries spent $72.9 billion on the weapons. Together, the countries possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons and spent $138,699 every minute of 2019 on them. This $72.9 billion represents an increase of $7.1 billion from 2018.

But these billions of dollars spent in the US and the other nine nuclear-armed countries are not the total expenditures. They pay for only the operating and development costs for nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems. They do not include the cleanup, or remediation, of the environment contaminated by the operation, use, and development of nuclear weapons, nor do they include the health care and compensation needed by the unknowing and unwilling victims harmed by the production and use of nuclear weapons.

A 2011 Global Zero cost estimate stated that “unpaid/deferred environmental and health costs, missile [defenses] assigned to defend against nuclear weapons, nuclear threat reduction and incident management” would add 50 percent more dollars. If included, in 2019, the US would have spent approximately $53 billion, or $101,000 a minute.

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, the Policy and Research Coordinator for the ICAN and the primary author of the report, said, “The billions spent on nuclear weapons in 2019 didn’t save lives — it was a waste of resources needed to address real security challenges, including pandemics and climate change.”

The report concludes with a question we all need to answer: “Will citizens and leaders choose to continue to throw away $73 billion on nuclear weapons, or will they join the majority of the world’s countries in choosing to ban these weapons of mass destruction all together?”

Action Options

1. Petition open for signatures: Demand Justice for Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Stimulus at Please share widely as we are gaining traction on this issue. Thank you!

2. Tuesday, June 9th from 5 to 7 pm – Midtown Santa Fe “Meet the Developer Series” continues. The topic has changed to Arts and Innovation. The topic Housing and Affordability has been rescheduled to June 23rd. Residents may attend the meetings virtually at The chat function will be enabled for your questions and comments. If you would like to submit a question(s) before the meeting, email For more information, visit

3. Thursday, June 18th — New Mexico Legislature Special Session Begins. For more information, check out Retake Our Democracy’s recent * important * Zoominar “NM State Budget Crisis, a Moral Crossroads,” with advocates from Voices for Children and Rep. Javier Martinez, Chair of the House Tax & Revenue Committee. The best quote from the Zoominar: “We don’t have a budget problem, we have a revenue problem.”

4. Wednesday, July 22nd — comments due to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the proposed Holtec Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for high-level radioactive waste. For more information, check out Kendra Chamberlain’s article ‘Forever deadly:’ State officials, communities scramble to fight a proposal to house high-level nuclear waste in New Mexico at For sample public comments, visit

5. Friday, July 31st comments due to EPA about two LANL discharge permits. EPA extended the public comment periods for 60 more days for the Individual Stormwater Permit and Industrial Wastewater (outfalls) Permit. A virtual public meeting on the Individual Stormwater Permit will be held in July. Sample public comments will be available before the deadline.

Further reading:

•   Experts and governments meet to discuss the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

•   Namibia ratifies UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

•   Caribbean nations rally behind UN nuclear weapon ban treaty

•   Belgian Parliament to vote on ending nuclear weapons

•   Majority of millennials support banning nuclear weapons

 Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.