WASHINGTON — As the annual defense policy bill makes its way through the halls of Congress, lawmakers are fighting the Biden administration’s proposal to scrap two nuclear investments.
The White House wants to retire one of those, the B83 megaton gravity bomb. But the Senate’s version of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act prevents that from happening until the chamber receives a report on alternatives for striking “hard and deeply buried targets.”
The other investment — the sea-launched cruise missile nuclear development program — is to receive $45 million for research and development under a House version of the NDAA. But that same chamber’s defense appropriations bill defunds the weapon program, as requested by President Joe Biden. For its part, the Senate’s defense appropriations bill provides $25 million for the weapon.
And all of this is occurring as the Congressional Budget Office estimates the U.S. will spend $634 billion on nuclear forces during the 2021-2030 time frame.
Still, the country’s nuclear warhead inventory fell from January 2021 to January 2022, according to an annual report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The Swedish think tank also found global military spending rose for the seventh consecutive year in 2021.
Here’s a snapshot from that report of military spending by region and warhead inventories by country:
- ( ) = uncertain estimate
- Spending figures are in U.S. dollars, at current prices and exchange rates. Changes are in real terms, based on constant (2020) U.S. dollars.
- * = Reported as zero or negligible value
- N/A = not applicable or not available
- [ ] = uncertain figure
- Deployed warheads are those placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.
- Stored warheads are those in central storage that would require some preparation before they could become fully operationally available.
- Other warheads are typically those retired and awaiting dismantlement. The latest U.S. and Russian figures in this category are those warheads awaiting dismantlement. The latest U.K. figure represents retired warheads that have not yet been dismantled and could likely be reconstituted to become part of the nation’s total stockpile over the coming years.
- Totals from last year do not include figures for North Korea and are rounded to the nearest five warheads. Previous calculations about North Korea’s warhead inventory referred to the number of nuclear warheads the nation could potentially build with the amount of fissile material it produced. The latest figures represent an estimate of the warheads North Korea has assembled.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and national security in Washington since 2014. He previously wrote for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.
Chris Martin is the managing editor for Defense News. His interests include Sino-U.S. affairs, cybersecurity, foreign policy and his yorkie Willow.