President Barack Obama’s plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years could cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion, according to a new study that suggests the project’s long-term price tag will far outpace available Pentagon estimates.
The study, by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington D.C.-based think tank that works closely with the Pentagon, is the latest attempt by independent researchers to determine the actual costs of Obama’s ambitious plans for updating the nuclear triad — the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarines and aircraft capable of delivering nuclear warheads. The White House, which announced plans to replace the U.S.’ aging arsenal in 2013, has to date only released a $73 billion estimate that covers fiscal years 2016 to 2020 — years before the program’s costs are projected to spike.
Researchers Todd Harrison and Evan Montgomery found in the study that the actual cost could total $963 billion between 2014 and 2043. “Ultimately, this report finds that the Pentagon will…require as much as $12 to 13 billion per year in additional funding to support nuclear maintenance and modernization during the 2020s, when spending on U.S. nuclear forces will peak,” Harrison and Montgomery wrote.