Auditors: Price Tag on U.S. Nuclear Arms Excludes Key Expenses

A Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile lifts off during a 2013 trial launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Official estimates are excluding key costs for maintaining and updating U.S. nuclear weapons, according to a Government Accountability Office report.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Diane Barnes
June 11, 2014, 10:49 a.m.

Con­gres­sion­al aud­it­ors say of­fi­cial es­tim­ates are ig­nor­ing key ex­penses for the U.S. nuc­le­ar force, such as costs of over­haul­ing mis­siles and air­craft.

The De­fense and En­ergy de­part­ments in­dic­ated that they planned to spend roughly $263.8 bil­lion on the atom­ic ar­sen­al over the com­ing dec­ade, but their pro­jec­tions omit­ted sig­ni­fic­ant items while ob­scur­ing “as­sump­tions and lim­it­a­tions,” ac­cord­ing to a Tues­day re­port by the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice.

The in­vest­ig­at­ors singled out the Air Force, in part, for list­ing planned up­dates to the in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile and stra­tegic bomber fleets as “zero-cost” pro­jects in the covered 10-year peri­od. The ser­vice is seek­ing $914 mil­lion in fisc­al 2015 for design­ing a new nuc­le­ar-cap­able air­craft, and is still ex­amin­ing pos­sible op­tions for the fu­ture of the ICBM force.

The De­fense De­part­ment should sup­ply at least “pre­lim­in­ary” es­tim­ates of all work to main­tain and re­fur­bish the U.S. nuc­le­ar de­terrent, so that budget plan­ners in Con­gress are “not left to spec­u­late,” the aud­it­ors ar­gued in their as­sess­ment. The au­thors looked at where the nuc­le­ar-arms cost pro­jec­tions stood as of last Ju­ly.

The Pentagon ac­cep­ted a GAO call — sim­il­ar to a re­quest put to the En­ergy De­part­ment in Decem­ber — to provide “a range of po­ten­tial 10-year budget es­tim­ates” for their nuc­le­ar-arms ini­ti­at­ives if more ex­act fig­ures are un­avail­able.

The re­port’s au­thors also as­ser­ted that the En­ergy De­part­ment’s Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion would need more money than it ex­pects for re­fur­bish­ing cruise- and bal­list­ic-mis­sile war­heads through fisc­al 2018.

“An NNSA of­fi­cial told us that the agency shif­ted fund­ing with­in its budget es­tim­ates for these two pro­grams bey­ond fisc­al year 2019 to stay with­in [White House] guidelines,” the as­sess­ment states.

What We're Following See More »
KIM CALLS TRUMP A “DOTARD”
North Korea Threatens H-Bomb Test Over Pacific
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."

Source:
INFORMS CONGRESS RE: EXECUTIVE ORDER
Trump Makes Good on Promise of New North Korea Sanctions
3 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.

SOUTH KOREA WILL SEND AID
Trump Promises More Sanctions on North Korea
3 days ago
THE LATEST

In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."

Source:
HIGHLIGHT ISSUES FACING KIDS
FLOTUS to Speak at UN Luncheon
4 days ago
THE LATEST
PRESSES CASE FOR REFORMS
Trump Meets with UN Leaders
4 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login