Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose central bargain was that non-nuclear weapons states forswore acquiring them in exchange for which nuclear weapons states promised to enter into serious negotiations leading to their elimination. Those negotiations have never happened.
The Trump Administration has marked the occasion by finally releasing the detailed fiscal year 2021 Congressional Budget Request for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA’s program for new and upgraded nuclear weapons gets a $3 billion-plus mark-up to $15.6 billion, slated to jump to $17 billion annually by 2025.
This includes a new nuclear warhead, the submarine-launched W93, initially funded at $53 million in FY 2021, but slated to climb to $1.1 billion annually by 2025. New warhead design and production typically take around 15 years or more.
In contrast, funding for dismantlement programs that eliminate nuclear weapons stays flat at $50 million to $53 million annually for the next five fiscal years, a mere 3% of NNSA’s proposed nuclear weapons budget.
Some 2,500 retired nuclear weapons are estimated to be awaiting dismantlement, which would lower long-term security risks and costs. Instead, the facilities used for dismantlements are too busy with “Life Extension Programs” that rebuild existing nuclear weapons, extending their service lives by at least 30 years, while giving them new military capabilities.