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Misplaced priorities: ICAN’s Report on 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending

In 2019, nuclear-armed countries collectively spent $138,700 every minute on nuclear weapons. So reports the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in their newly published report on 2019 global nuclear weapons spending. According to Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, this report highlights the absurdity of spending tax money  on weapons “that cause catastrophic human harm rather than spending it to protect the health of their citizens”. She believes it goes against each nation’s  “duty to protect their people”.

Out of the total $72.9 billion spent on nuclear weapons, the United States spent $35.4 billion, which represents almost half of the world’s spending on nuclear weapons last year and a $5.8 billion increase over U.S.  nuclear weapon spending in 2018.  This being said, ICAN’s numbers underestimate the real spending of the United States, which is explained at PSR-LA’s Community Cost Calculator.

In addition to the United States’ spending, this report addresses the nuclear weapon spending of 8 other nuclear-armed nations. Here they are ranked, with the United States in the lead:

  1. United-States ($35.4 billion);
  2. China ($10.4 billion);
  3. United Kingdom ($8.9 billion);
  4. Russia ($8.5 billion);
  5. France ($4.8 billion);
  6. India ($2.3 billion);
  7. Israel & Pakistan ($1 billion each);
  8. North Korea ($0.6 billion).

To summarize, this report displays the irrationality of nuclear weapons spending among nuclear-armed States. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this mismanagement of spending is still going on at a moment where humanity suffers from a lack of health care  spending, including for masks, ventilators and the salaries of health care providers. According to an ICAN research, States like the UK, the US and France could tackle the pandemic more efficiently if they were decreasing their nuclear weapons spending. What are they waiting for?

Read more about ICAN’s report titled “Enough is Enough: 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending.”