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US nuclear arsenal to cost nearly $1 trillion to upgrade: Study

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows a US military Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in its underground silo.

A US Defense Department think tank has estimated that modernization of the existing US nuclear arsenal is likely to cost Washington nearly $1 trillion over the next 30 years, which is way more than what the Pentagon can currently afford.

The study, carried out by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), which works closely with the Pentagon, is an attempt by independent researchers to estimate how much President Barack Obama’s adventurous plans to modernize the country’s nuclear arsenal will actually cost.

The researchers at CSBA have found that from 2014 to 2043, the White House will need to set aside a hefty $963 billion in order to gradually upgrade all intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarines and aircraft capable of deploying nuclear warheads.

This is while the government has announced a $73 billion estimate that only covers fiscal years of 2016 to 2020; a long while before the costs go up and reach their annual peak.

“This report finds that the Pentagon will… require as much as $12 to 13 billion per year in additional funding to support nuclear maintenance and modernization during the 2020s, when spending on US nuclear forces will peak,” the report reads.

In 2012, Obama announced that his plans to upgrade the 60-year-old and aging arsenal will cost $208 billion, but the already massive sum was dwarfed only a year later, when Congressional Budget Office (CBO) bumped it up to a minimum of $355 billion.

The CBSA has offered alternative plans to shave off some of the costs. For example, they believe ICBMs come as the lowest priority in the overhaul and can therefore be entirely dropped from the program.

American lawmakers and anti-nuclear advocates say that the upgrade is not affordable with the current budget restriction plans that will go on until 2021.

According to the most recent official reports, the US Department of Defense was allocated a total budget of $664.84 billion in the fiscal year of 2011.

The country spent $17.424 billion on “atomic energy defense activities” the same year.

The report comes in the wake of the 70th anniversary of only atomic bombings in world history that were carried out by the United States and destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War, killing more than 200,000 people.

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