The Pentagon will spend more than $29 billion in FY21 to modernize the delivery systems (warplanes; submarines; command, control, and communications systems) of the air, land, and sea nuclear triad.   

 By Bill Adamski and Jay Kvale WAMM Newsletter  Summer 2021  Vol. 39  Num. 3

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANW) accurately describes the dread that we associate with these doomsday machines: “[They] are the only devices ever created that have the capacity to destroy all complex life forms on Earth. It would take less than 0.1 percent of the explosive yield of the current global nuclear arsenal to bring about devastating agricultural collapse and widespread famine.”[1]

At the beginning of this year, on January 27, 2021, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) announced that its Doomsday Clock would remain at 100 seconds to midnight – the closest it has come to predicting a nuclear apocalypse in its 74-year history. It is, they said, “the most dangerous situation that humanity has ever faced.”[2]

What typically does not usually come to mind regarding these existential threats to our being is the outrageously large amount of taxpayer dollars that are wasted on making and maintaining them.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) plans to spend $15.6 billion to maintain and update the U.S. nuclear arsenal in fiscal year (FY) 2021 (5800 warheads).[3]

The Pentagon will spend more than $29 billion in FY21 to modernize the delivery systems (warplanes; submarines; command, control, and communications systems) of the air, land, and sea nuclear triad.[4]

But that is just a projected tiny down payment on this long-term modernization project. The military plans to spend up to an inflation-adjusted $1.7 trillion over 30 years to overhaul its nuclear arsenal by rebuilding each leg of the nuclear triad and its accompanying infrastructure[5] –trillions wasted on weaponry that must never be used.

The long-term bet by the mass weapons lobby is that these obscene armaments will long continue to be an important part of U.S. military strategy, contrary to an increasingly more prevalent international assertion that they must be abolished. On January 22, 2021, the United Nations “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” (TPNW) officially “entered into force” as international law. Nuclear weapons are now illegal. Currently 54 nations have taken the courageous action to fully ratify this treaty – with many more in the process of moving toward that goal.[6] Unfortunately, the U.S. is not one of them.

Nevertheless, movement towards the complete abolition of all nuclear arms is very achievable. After all, the world’s nations have already been able to come together, agreeing through international treaties or conventions to universally ban other categories of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs): chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster munitions, and anti-personnel mines.[7]

Furthermore, Russia and the U.S., through arms control treaties, have already reduced their nuclear arsenal stock piles by 80 percent from their year 1986 totals (70,300) to 13,400, which is 90 percent of the world’s total nuclear weaponry.[8]  Even though neither country has yet ratified the UN’s TPNW, the treaty’s international legal authority (“all nuclear weapons are now illegal”) can be used to push them, under the recently renewed New START Treaty, to quickly accelerate further reductions all the way to zero.

Demonstrating dramatic downsizing by way of example, both superpowers can jointly demand that the seven other nuclear states follow. All nine countries could quickly start this process by building upon Global Zero’s mission, “a world without nuclear weapons,” which developed a five-step plan to attain total abolition of these armaments by 2030.[9]

Finally, somewhere during this incredible process, all nine nuclear nations can join the many, many other countries who have already signed and ratified the UN TPNW, making nuclear weapons universally illegal and banned, as they are for all those other categories of WMDs.

The result would be a world that becomes immeasurably safer, much less threatening and dangerous.

And the payoff for humanity is incalculable. Trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars could be redirected from building for a world-ending Armageddon and instead toward making the planet substantially better by fulfilling many critical human needs.

Bill Adamski and Jay Kvale are members of the End War Committee of Women Against Military Madness.

[1] Int’l Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICANW), 2020: “The cost of nuclear weapons”
[2] The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 27 Jan 2021: “This is your COVID wake-up call: It is 100 seconds to midnight”
[3] Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 22 Jan 2021: “Fact Sheet: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Modernization: Costs & Constraints”
[4] Center for Arms Control Fact Sheet
[5] Center for Arms Control Fact Sheet; Arms Control Association, August 2018: “U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs”.
[6] International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICANW), 2021.
[7] The Library of Congress, 2020: “Laws Prohibiting Investments in Controversial Weapons”
[8] Global Zero, 2021: “Reaching Zero”
[9] Global Zero, 2021: “Five Step Action Plan to Abolish All Nuclear Weapons”


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By Published On: June 27th, 20212 Comments


  1. Mr haris July 10, 2021 at 9:17 AM


  2. […] What Is It Costing to Build Armageddon? by Bill Adamski and Jay Kvale  — Rise Up Times […]

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