Report: Nuclear Cuts Would Not Yield Big Savings

Nuclear forces are just a drop in the national defense budget bucket, and can be funded if prioritized, according to a new analysis from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment. Study authors, Todd Harrison and Evan Montgomery, said their findings differ from other studies of nuclear costs because the focus was on determining just the costs required to maintain nuclear forces, not for forces that may be used for nuclear and non-nuclear purposes. For example, the study does not include the cost of cleanup and disposal of nuclear waste, threat reduction, and arms control, or missile defense and missile warning systems. Harrison and Montgomery found that costs will peak in the late 2020s, then begin to fall. But even if budget caps remain and costs climb, nuclear forces would make up less than 5 percent of the national defense budget at the peak, Harrison said. “Are [nuclear forces] unaffordable? I don’t think so,” he said. Harrison also noted that slashing nuclear forces would save only about $20 billion over the next five years, and that most savings would happen after Budget Control Act caps are set to expire.