The purpose of the foundation’s work in this area is not to assert or to prove that the costs of nuclear weapons outweigh their purported security benefits, but rather to provide information and promote a cost-benefit debate. An enlightened public discussion cannot occur without a more thorough accounting of the various expenses associated with nuclear weapons. Defining and highlighting these costs are the objectives of this initiative. What price has been paid for the development, testing, manufacture, deployment, and maintenance of nuclear weapons? What future expenses are to be incurred for continued nuclear weapons research and development, and for the clean-up, dismantlement, and closure of the nuclear weapon complex? For example, despite the end of the Cold War and the ban on nuclear weapons testing, the Department of Energy plans to spend a total of $20 billion over the next five years on new facilities and programs for nuclear weapon research, development and maintenance. This amount exceeds the annual level of Cold War spending on nuclear warhead research, development, testing and production. These and related issues are central to assessing the true cost of our nuclear enterprise.
Arriving at such a cost involves more than simply tabulating government expenditures and outlays for nuclear weapons projects and programs. Some nuclear weapon costs are not easily quantifiable—during the Cold War arms race, public health, safety, the environment, and the democratic “right-to-know” were often compromised in the name of national security. Therefore, this initiative concentrates heavily on exposing the sizable social and economic costs of acquiring and retaining nuclear weapons.
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