December 24, 2013
By R. Jeffrey Smith
The Obama administration’s plan for maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal will likely cost around 66 percent more over the next decade than senior Pentagon officials have predicted, according to a new assessment by the independent Congressional Budget Office.
Under the administration’s plan, operating, maintaining and upgrading the nuclear stockpile will cost a total of $355 billion from 2014 through 2023, said the CBO report, published just before the holidays and shortly after Congress finished action on a 2014 budget bill that restored some planned Pentagon spending cuts.
James Miller, the Pentagon’s outgoing policy chief, had said in 2011 congressional testimony that the 10-year tab would be around $214 billion, or an average of $21 billion a year, an amount he pegged at around 3 percent of the Pentagon’s likely overall budget for that period.
His boss at the time, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, cited an even lower yearly total when he told a security conference in Colorado last summer that nuclear weapons are “just not that expensive.”
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