Despite the pandemic and the damage lockdowns did to the world’s economy, global spending on nuclear weapons rose by $1.4 billion in 2020, with the US accounting for more than half of the total spending on nukes for the year.
According to a report from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the world’s nine nuclear-armed states spent $72.6 billion on such weapons in 2020, up from $71.2 billion in 2019. Out of the $72.6 billion, the US spent $37.4 billion, more than half of the total.
According to ICAN, the second-highest spender was China. ICAN estimated Beijing spent $10.1 billion on nuclear weapons in 2020. In third was Russia, at $8 billion, followed by the UK ($6.2 billion), France ($5.7 billion), India ($2.48 billion), Israel ($1.1 billion), Pakistan ($1 billion), and North Korea ($667 million).
ICAN works to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), an international treaty that calls for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and, ultimately, the elimination of such arms. The TPNW technically came into force in January of this year, but nuclear-armed states refuse to abide by it.
The report reads: “Nuclear-armed states spent an obscene amount of
money on illegal weapons of mass destruction in 2020, while the majority of the world’s countries support a global nuclear weapons ban.”
The report details how much money US and other arms companies made on nuclear weapons compared to how much they spent on lobbying efforts. For example, the US company Northrop Grumman was awarded $13.7 billion just for nuclear weapons contracts. The company spent $13.3 million for lobbying efforts in Washington and spent $2 million funding think tanks, a small investment to be awarded so many billions in government contracts.