Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Governments Boost Nukes While Cutting Aid and Social Services

As the international community attempts to redirect spending from nuclear-weapons programs to development, at least nine UN member states—led by the United States—continue to boost their spending on nuclear stockpiles.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Inter Press Service

As U.N.-led talks on disarmament resume in Geneva, calls are growing for nuclear-armed nations to cut spending on their stockpiles and instead divert resources to development.

“The amount still being spent on nuclear arms makes no sense, just as continued reliance on the weapons themselves makes no sense,” David Kreiger, president of the U.S.-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, told IPS.

His remarks alluded to the fact that nine out of 193 U.N. member states continue to increase budgetary allocations for the maintenance and modernisation of nuclear weapons, despite promises to reduce their stockpiles.

Last year, the nuclear states spent around 105 billion dollars on their arsenals, according to independent estimates. The share of the United States alone was 61 billion dollars.

According to a recent study by Global Zero, a U.S.-based disarmament advocacy group, in 2011, Russia spent 14.9 billion dollars; China 7.6 billion; France 6.0 billion; and Britain 5.5 billion dollars on nuclear weapons.

For their part, the four de-facto nuclear powers also demonstrated a similar pattern of behaviour with increased expenditures on nuclear weapons. India spent 4.9 billion, Pakistan 2.2 billion, Israel 1.9 billion and North Korea 0.7 billion dollars.

This cost calculation by Globe Zero refers only to researching, developing, procuring, testing, operating, maintaining, and upgrading the nuclear arsenal, not many other related activities. Global predicts the expenditures will most likely be the same this year.

That despite the fact that most governments continue to face financial constraints caused by the prolonged economic downturn and seem inclined to introduce further cuts in social services.

Considering that millions of people across the world suffer from hunger, disease and homelessness, Kreiger calls this trend to boost spending on nukes “obscene”.

“Nuclear weapons absorb resources that could be used instead to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” he said.

U.N. experts say they want to raise over 400 billion dollars annually for development. But that amount is becoming increasingly hard to secure because most leading donor nations are not fulfilling their commitments.

According to the U.N., there is a shortfall of 167 billion dollars in Official Development Assistance, which is making it hard for developing countries to achieve all the MDGs by the deadline of 2015. That shortfall can be easily overcome by introducing drastic cuts in the cost of nuclear weapons maintenance and modernisation, according to peace activists.

“The nuclear-armed nations are spending around 300 million every day on their nuclear forces,” said Tim Wright of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in a statement. “Obviously, there is a better way to spend this money than on weapons that threaten us all.”

Currently, the nuclear states are estimated to posses about 19,500 nuclear weapons, according to Critical Will, a non-governmental organisation that works with the U.N. closely on matters related to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

Despite the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) treaty signed in 2010, both the United States and Russia continue to update their existing arsenals. So is the case with Britain, France and China, as well as the four other de-facto nuclear powers. For more on the START Treaty, see “Obama Pushes START Treaty to Top of Legislative Agenda,” December 2010.)

While the five declared nuclear powers’ spending records are hard to pin down due to lack of transparency in certain areas, researchers say it is much harder to find accurate data with regard to nuclear weapons’ spending in de facto nuclear countries.

In the case of Pakistan, for example, which remains outside the fold of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, there is no public accountability regarding the cost of nuclear weapons. It’s a state secret.

“I don’t know,” replied a Pakistani diplomat recently, in response to a question about the cost of his country’s nuclear programme. “Why don’t you talk to the U.S. diplomats and others? Are they telling their people how much money they are spending?”

His answer implied that figures made public by the declared nuclear states are not authentic either. But peace activists from the region counter this argument.

“All nuclear armed states launched their weapons programmes without the knowledge of their own people. This secrecy about what goes on inside nuclear programmes and how much they cost in public funds is an attempt to escape accountability,” said Zia Mian, who directs a project on peace and security at Princeton University.

“The first victims of the nuclear programmes are the people they are supposed to protect,” he told IPS, citing recent data which shows that Pakistan spends one percent of its GNP on health and education.

About half of the country’s population cannot read or write.

Kreiger said the failure of the leaders of the nuclear weapons states “to rid the world of these weapons displays nothing less than cruel indifference to those who suffer, while at the same time assuring that their own citizens remain targets of nuclear weapons.”

The U.N. disarmament conference will conclude on Sep. 14. The 65-member body, which reports to the U.N. General Assembly annually, sets its own agenda and works by consensus.

In the past, the conference has negotiated some major international agreements, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Haider Rizvi is a contributor to Inter Press Service.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


A military historian, Kimberly Kagan heads the Institute for the Study of War, where she has promoted the continuation of U.S. war in Afghanistan.


A “non-partisan” policy institute that purports to defend democracies from “militant Islamism,” the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is an influential base of hawkish advocacy on Middle East policy.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share