How much deterrence is enough

(reproduced from


of 9 August 2000, with thanks).


Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,

Jan/Feb 2000 makes interesting reading. It states:

The United States already has the most sophisticated and expensive arsenal in the world, with more than 12,000 nuclear weapons of nine distinct designs, refined through 1,030 nuclear tests, conducted over 47 years, and maintained by an elaborate scientific complex, with tens of thousands of scientists and technicians. Each of these weapons on average is twenty to thirty times more powerful than the weapons that killed about 250,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. US taxpayers have spent more than $5.5 trillion (with a t) on these weapons, and they pay $25 billion a year to sustain and operate the nuclear weapons complex.

“Even if all the Strategic Accords now envisioned are implemented – a fast diminishing prospect – the US plans to maintain more than 10,000 nuclear warheads in various stages of operational use, or storage, for the indefinite future. This means that by 2015, if Russian nuclear forces continue to deteriorate as is now projected, and even if China pursues its current modernisation plans, the US arsenal will be five times the size of the arsenals of all the other nations in the world combined. One US Trident missile carries about the same firepower, as all the guns and all the bombs exploded in all the wars in history.

Ten years after the fall of the ‘Berlin Wall’, the US spends as if the ‘Cold War’ still rages. The $280 billion defence budget dwarfs that of any possible foe, and is more than the defence spending of the next eight nations combined.”