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Nuclear Bombs: A Source of Economic Waste, or A Great Deterrent

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Nuclear Bombs: A Source of Economic Waste, or a Great Deterrent

By 1945, the U.S. was ready to test the first atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project laid the foundation for this event to be possible, and by the end, the total bill for research and development had risen to nearly two billion dollars. Regardless of the cost, the success of the project had entered the world into the nuclear age (Ushistory.org, 2018). However, since the success of such nuclear technology and its use in WWll, nuclear weapons have been collecting dust. Furthermore, no country has used nuclear weapons since the bombings of Japan in 1945. Looking forward, one can wonder if the continual creation of these nuclear bombs is keeping us safe, or if it is digging our nation into a deeper economic waste pit.

Currently, the United States stands with the most powerful nuclear arsenal, and yet, since the Manhattan Project, the U.S. has spent several trillion dollars on nuclear weapons (Walt et al., 2018). The new Nuclear Posture Review proposed by the Pentagon lays out a ruthless and costly plan to update U.S. nuclear arsenal. The proposal will expand the uses of nuclear bombs, however, it will be at the cost of the American taxpayer. This expansion is supposed to ensure the security of the country. If we take a closer look, besides ensuring the reliability of these weapons through modernization, the plan will not increase our safety. As stated above, the U.S. already has the most potent arsenal, and modifications of current weapons isn’t going to advance their safety any more. Furthermore, the proposal’s plan to lower the threshold of the nuclear weapons comes with a cost. Lowering this nuclear threshold will simply be a show of the capability of the U.S. to have these weapons more readily available for use. The cost is the inability to know how other countries will react and the increased ability that these weapons will be used. Either way, the reaction could result in a “use or lose situation” (Walt et al., 2018). If the U.S. continues to increase their already massive nuclear arsenal, other countries may feel vulnerable, which could lead to a preemptive attack in efforts to protect themselves before the U.S. had the chance to. Although we know that the U.S. would be able to strike back at any country with the arsenal power they have available, the whole point of the weapons has been to deter such events from happening.

Economically, “The United States spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined” (Pgpf.org, 2018). As you can see in Figure 1, the United States spends around $611 billion dollars compared to the total of the other countries of $595 billion. In regards to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, costs to taxpayers may exceed $1.2 trillion for the nuclear weapons spending plans between the years of 2017 and 2046 (www.dw.com, 2018).

The expected budget for 2019 might allow for a 13% increase for military spending. Stephen Miles is a critic of these plans and he says “When our nation can’t manage to turn the lights on for the people of Puerto Rico, when we can’t help those suffering from opioid addiction get treatment, and when we can’t ensure education and healthcare to all of our citizens, how is it possible we can justify spending billions more on weapons that don’t work to fight enemies that don’t exist?” (McCarthy, 2018). The U.S is already the leading country with nuclear technologies far more advanced than many other nations. The concern of a nuclear attack from an outside source has been proven to be of little to know harm because of our readily available weapons. As Stephen Miles says, the tide needs to begin to turn to making sure the people of our own nation are able to live the life they deserve by working on the problems that we face in our own homes. Security of our citizens is of great importance, however, when our spending excels that of numerous countries combined, there has to be a time when spending is cut for resources that are abundant, and allotted to fix major issues that our facing the same citizens that we are trying to protect from outside “threats” that may not even occur.

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