December 1, 2011 Statement of Stephen I.

Schwartz: “I did not intend to say or imply that the Ploughshares Fund ‘wanted a large number to make their case for political purposes.’ Although the Ploughshares working paper draws upon the data and methodology of my 2009 report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, I had no involvement with either Ploughshares or Rep. Edward Markey’s office concerning the development or dissemination of any figures relating to the current or protected future costs of nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs. Consequently, I have no knowledge of and therefore no insight into their motivations or intentions regarding these numbers. Furthermore, I fully stand by the estimates in my 2009 report, including the overall figure of at least $52 billion in nuclear weapons and weapons-related expenditures in fiscal 2008. I cannot and would not claim to know what the actual figure is. The fundamental point—which tends to get lost in the rather esoteric discussion of how this estimate was derived—is that more than 69 years after the creation of the Manhattan Project, no one in the government knows what the actual number is because there is not and has never been a line item for nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs in the federal budget. The problem is not, as you write, that the government ‘has never officially disclosed the exact cost,’ it’s that no one knows the exact cost because all the relevant data have never been collected and analyzed. For a program that has consumed an estimated $8.7 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2010 dollars) since 1940, making it the third most expensive government program of all time, that is simply unacceptable, and it should be unacceptable whether one believes current and proposed future spending is too much or too little. Guessing isn’t good enough, particularly in a time of increasing budgetary austerity. If the estimates in the Carnegie report, and by extension the Ploughshares working paper, are considered too high, I have no doubt, based on my immersion in this issue for more than 17 years, that the government’s figures are too low. But rather than arguing over whose estimate is the most accurate, we should be demanding that before the substantial Department of Defense and Department of Energy modernization programs get fully underway, the government prepare a comprehensive, unclassified, annual accounting of all expenditures associated with nuclear weapons, so that we can finally have an honest and informed debate about their actual costs and benefits.” ###

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