9 countries spend US$156,000 on nuclear weapons every minute, US tops list

After digging through thousands of contracts, annual reports, and lobby disclosures, the report shows a dozen companies got US$30.2 billion in new contracts to work on nuclear weapons.

nuclear-armed, 9 countries spend US$156,000 on nuclear weapons every minute, US tops list

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – US$82.4 billion, or US$156,841 per minute, that’s how much the nine nuclear-armed states spent on their nuclear weapons in 2021 during a global pandemic, rising global food insecurity, and only months before Russia began assembling troops on the border with Ukraine. This represents an inflation-adjusted increase of US$6.5 billion from 2020.

The report “Squandered: 2021 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) details the spending of these nine countries on their arsenals, the companies that profited, and the lobbyists hired to keep nuclear weapons in business.

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The report came a week after the US-led NATO alliance declared that it did not offer a guarantee to Russia that it would not deploy nuclear weapons on the territories of its two prospective new members, Finland and Sweden.

9 countries spend US$156,000 on nuclear weapons every minute, US tops list. (Photo internet reproduction)
9 countries spend US$156,000 on nuclear weapons every minute, US tops list. (Photo internet reproduction)

ICAN’s report further confirmed a statement released by the prominent Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI) a day earlier in which it had warned that all the nine nuclear-armed states were increasing or upgrading their arsenals and that the risk of deployment of such weapons appeared higher now than at any time since the height of the Cold War.

U.S. TOPS LIST

The U.S. spent three times more than the next in line- a whopping US$44.2 billion. China was the only other country crossing the ten billion mark, spending US$11.7 billion. Russia had the third-highest spending at US$8.6 billion, though the U.K.’s US$6.8 billion and the French US$5.9 billion weren’t so far behind. India, Israel, and Pakistan also each spent over a billion on their arsenals, while North Korea spent US$642 million.

Why would these countries spend so much? The report shows that it’s not security interests or even a resumption of so-called great power competition driving this increased spending; it’s business.

After digging through thousands of contracts, annual reports, and lobby disclosures, the report shows a dozen companies got US$30.2 billion in new contracts to work on nuclear weapons.

Those companies then turned around and spent US$117 million lobbying decision-makers to spend more money on defense. And they also spent up to US$10 million funding most of the major think tanks that research and write about policy solutions about nuclear weapons.