US officials have been pushing for a massive, and massively expensive, modernization campaign for the US nuclear weapons arsenal. The enormous cache of weapons amassed over the past 60 years is aging, and in 2012, President Obama proposed a plan which he said would cost $208 billion.
Which is a lot, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed only a year later that it was a serious underestimation, saying in late 2013 that the real cost would be a minimum of $355 billion. The price keeps going up, and the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Pentagon-linked think tank, now says it’ll likely cost around $963 billion and take a solid 30 years.
Politely, $963 billion is referred to by some officials as “unaffordable,” and could more accurately be described as an obscene amount of money, but those same officials show no sign of considering any alternative, like cutting the size of the enormous arsenal.
Other nations, like Britain, are similarly facing the reality that these huge nuclear arsenals aren’t particularly affordable, and decades of military careers built on the program likewise means a lot of resistance to even broaching the subject of a unilateral cut. Though during the Cold War era officials in all nuclear nations were able to point across the Iron Curtain to try to justify out of control spending to “keep up,” even the nominal justification for keeping multiple doomsdays worth of arms just doesn’t exist anymore. Despite this, and the unaffordability of the scheme, the money keeps flowing.