Los Angeles County Spent $1.7 Billion on Nuclear Weapons Programs in 2015
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) has calculated the taxpayer costs for nuclear weapons programs for municipalities in Southern California, revealing that LA County spent $1,733,420,000.00 on nuclear weapons programs last year. The total costs for the United States in 2015 were $55.9 billion. PSR-LA has posted these figures and costs for other communities on its website as part of it’s “Community Costs Program” which offers to calculate costs for any community wishing to know what it spent on nuclear weapons last year.
“Budgets are moral documents.” said Dr. Bob Dodge, a Board Member of PSR National and PSR-LA who has been preparing nuclear weapons cost calculations for tax day every year for over 30 years. “The astronomical costs of our nuclear weapons programs divert resources that could be spent on human needs such as environmental protection, education, and health care. More importantly, nuclear weapons pose tremendous threats to public health – a single detonation, whether by accident or intent, would cause immeasurable harm to people, the environment, and the economy. It is unconscionable that we are spending so much money on weapons that can never be used.”
As high as nuclear weapons expenditures are now, the Obama Administration’s plans to rebuild the US nuclear arsenal would increase costs dramatically – $348 billion over the next 10 years and $1 trillion dollars over the next 3 decades. Many security experts, including former Secretary of Defense William Perry, argue that U.S. plans to rebuild the arsenal are creating a new arms race as other countries follow suit. Perry has recently stated that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe is greater today than it was during the Cold War. The “modernization” of nuclear weapons contributed to a decision last year by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, a group founded by former Manhattan Project scientists, to move the hand on its allegorical Doomsday Clock from five minutes before midnight to three.
Rebuilding the nuclear arsenal also directly conflicts with current treaty obligations to disarm. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) directs all signature states to move in good faith toward complete disarmament, and the New START Treaty between the US and Russia is supposed to see both countries’ arsenals reduced to 1,550 weapons each. “It is difficult to imagine the U.S. and other countries dismantling newly-built nuclear weapons,” said Denise Duffield, PSR-LA Associate Director. “President Obama has stated his desire to see a world without nuclear weapons, but his administration’s current plans make that a remote vision at best.”
Dr. Jimmy Hara, PSR-LA Board member, rejects the notion that nuclear weapons are needed for deterrence. “Given the well documented history of near-misses, accidents, and errors in judgement that have nearly resulted in a nuclear attack, I don’t believe deterrence has kept us safe,” he said. “It’s been a matter of luck. But luck runs out eventually, and deterrence only has to fail once to forever change life as we know it.”
Hara, who was born in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, has dedicated his life to nuclear abolition. “The nuclear weapons we have today are far more powerful than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he said. “They do not protect us, they make us less safe. The financial and human cost of nuclear weapons is simply too high.”
Next month, an Open-Ended Working Group of the UN will hold its second meeting in Geneva to develop legal structures for a ban on nuclear weapons. Frustrated by lack of disarmament progress with the NPT, 127 countries have now pledged support for such a ban. “Other indiscriminate weapons such as biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have been banned,” said Dr. Dodge. “The best way to protect public health from nuclear weapons is to ban and eliminate them.”
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PSR-LA is the largest chapter of the national organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the American recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.