The United States is to treat its nuclear arsenal to the costliest modernization process ever, with the projected expenditure estimated to stand at USD hundreds of billions.
The Washington Post
reported the prospect of the wholesale overhaul on Saturday, saying the country’s 5,113-strong arsenal of nuclear warheads is to undergo an upgrade and maintenance process as part of the plan.
The paper added that the plan also includes renovation of the aging nuclear facilities, and replacement of old delivery systems.
The daily did not point to the expenditures, but Washington think-tank Stimson Center has estimated the cost to stand at USD 352 billion in the least over the next decade. Others have said the figure could far exceed the amount.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I haven’t seen a moment like this,” said Thomas P. D’Agostino, who leads the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The stockpile houses seven types of weapons, upgrading only the B61 thermonuclear bomb among which is likely to cost USD 10 billion over five years, while Washington would have to lavish USD 110 billion to build 12 replacements for the aging Ohio-class submarines.
The country is, meanwhile, spending USD 162 million per airplane to build a nuclear-capable fleet of the F-35 strike aircraft to replace the existing warplanes.
The US is the only country to have ever used atomic bombs against another nation.
The prospective overhaul flies in the face of the country’s persisting economic woes and the international calls for a nuclear-weapon-free world.