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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Biden Budget Should Support More Cost-Effective, Stabilizing, Saner Nuclear Strategy

Experts Available for Comment on Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request

For Immediate Release: May 27, 2021

Media ContactsKingston Reif, director for disarmament policy, 202-463-8270 ext. 104; Shannon Bugos, research associate, 202-463-8270 ext. 113

(Washington, D.C.)—The Biden administration is set to release its fiscal year 2022 national defense budget request May 28. The request is expected to continue forward with most, if not all, of the Trump administration’s excessive plans to sustain and modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Failure to adjust the existing approach would be a disappointing missed opportunity to put the modernization effort on a more cost-effective and stable footing while ensuring a strong deterrent.

The United States is planning to spend $634 billion over the next decade to sustain and modernize its arsenal, according to a Congressional Budget Office report published Monday. This is an increase of $140 billion, or 28 percent, from the previous 10-year projection. The major uptick in spending will compete with other national security priorities, such as strengthening pandemic defense and response and augmenting U.S. conventional military capabilities, amid what most experts believe will be a flat defense budget over the next several years.

During the campaign, President Biden said the United States “does not need new nuclear weapons” and that his “administration will work to maintain a strong, credible deterrent while reducing our reliance and excessive expenditure on nuclear weapons.” Biden is right. Current U.S. nuclear weapons policies exceed what is necessary for a credible nuclear deterrent, and the financial and opportunity costs of the current modernization plan are rising fast.

The Biden administration’s topline discretionary budget request released in April said that “While the Administration is reviewing the U.S. nuclear posture, the discretionary request supports ongoing nuclear modernization programs while ensuring that these efforts are sustainable.” But several current U.S. nuclear modernization efforts do not meet the “sustainable” criterion.

As the Government Accountability Office noted in a report published May 6, “every nuclear triad replacement program—including the B21, LRSO, GBSD, and Columbia class submarine, and every ongoing bomb and warhead modernization program—faces the prospect of delays due to program-specific and DOD- and DOE-wide risk factors.”

Meanwhile, projected spending on nuclear warheads and infrastructure at the Energy Department’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration has ballooned to $505 billion, according to the agency’s 25-year plan published in December. That represents a staggering increase of $113 billion from the 2020 version of the plan.

The Trump administration’s nuclear weapons policies and spending plans demand a fundamental rethinking.

The Biden administration had little time to prepare the fiscal year 2022 budget request. A forthcoming review of U.S. nuclear policy and posture will evaluate existing policies and spending plans in more detail. In keeping with President Biden’s views, the review should pursue a nuclear posture that is more stabilizing, supports the pursuit of additional arms control and reduction measures designed to enhance stability and reduce the chance of nuclear conflict, and frees up taxpayer dollars for higher priority national and health security needs.

Experts Available:

  • Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, [email protected], 202-463-8270 ext. 104
  • Shannon Bugos, research associate, [email protected], 202-463-8270 ext. 113

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