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The soaring costs of Trump’s nuclear weapons’ spending – the new arms race

Trump Boosts Nuclear Weapons Spending, Fueling a New Arms Race, Jon Letman, Truthout, – 31 May 2020, Spending by the world’s nine nuclear nations climbed to nearly $73 billion in 2019, nearly half of it by the United States alone. At the same time, the Trump administration has prioritized nuclear weapons in its defense budget while abandoning nuclear treaties, fumbling negotiations and confounding allies. The administration’s lack of coherent goals, strategies or polices have increased nuclear dangers, leaving the U.S. “blundering toward nuclear chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.” Those are the findings of two separate reports published in May that examine nuclear spending and strategy under Trump.

The findings of the reports lay bare the soaring costs and dangers of the Trump administration’s pursuit of more nuclear pits; the fast tracking of a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles; and the deployment of new, low-yield submarine-launched nuclear weapons. In May, The Washington Post reported that Trump officials are in ongoing discussions about resuming explosive nuclear weapons testing.

The first report, titled “Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons Spending 2019,” published by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), is a densely-packed 12-page snapshot of how the world’s nuclear-armed nations collectively spent $72.9 billion on nuclear weapons last year, an increase of more than $7 billion over 2018. That worked out to almost $200 million per day in 2019.

Among the nine nations that collectively (but very unevenly) possess over 13,000 nuclear weapons, in 2019 four countries (Russia, China, France and India) increased nuclear spending modestly, three remained flat (the U.K., North Korea and Israel), and one cut spending slightly (Pakistan). Only the United States sharply increased nuclear expenditures over the previous year, from $29.6 billion to $35.4 billion.

According to Alicia Sanders-Zakre, ICAN policy and research coordinator and lead author of the report, the modernization of existing weapons and the expansion of arsenals is likely to drive further increases on nuclear spending in coming years……..

Sanders-Zakre calculated that total nuclear spending among the U.S., France and U.K. in a single year could cover all their respective shortfalls in “ICU beds, annual salaries for doctors and nurses, and ventilators … and [they would] still have just enormous amounts of money left over.”……

“Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos”

A second report, “Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos: The Trump Administration After Three Years,” published by the American Nuclear Policy Initiative (ANPI), an independent project of Global Zero, takes a sweeping look at how the U.S. is navigating the complex nuclear landscape under the undisciplined and unpredictable rule of Donald Trump.

Calling for broad changes, the report’s authors present a disturbing triptych of instability, inexperience and incompetence, making a powerful case for the urgent need to correct and redirect the U.S.’s approach to nuclear weapons policy. …….

The authors also closely examine how Trump has played a disruptive — even destructive — role in dismantling international agreements and nuclear treaties, most notably the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iran nuclear deal, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, while acting in a manner that runs counter to arms control and nonproliferation………

This comes as Trump has vowed to cut financial support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stop funding for the World Health Organization, even as Trump’s special presidential envoy for arms control recently said the U.S. was prepared to “spend China and Russian into oblivion” in order to win a new arms race.

Under Trump, nuclear spending and tensions are sharply increasing, but U.S. allies are anxious and uncertain and adversaries are antagonized. At a time when more than 100,000 Americans have been killed by a virus that can’t be stopped with a bomb, both the ICAN and ANPI reports illustrate how Trump’s unrestrained embrace of nuclear weapons is not making a U.S. that is safer, only a U.S. that is alone……

June 1, 2020 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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