Governments need more resources to help their citizens impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuclear-armed states' decision to divert public resources from health care to weapons of mass destruction is unconscionable. We break down the vital resources the billions of dollars being spent each year by France, the United Kingdom and the United States to maintain, upgrade and develop their nuclear arsenals could pay for.
French President Emmanuel Macron earmarked €37 billion for French nuclear forces from 2019-2025, translating to roughly €4.5 billion in 2019, given that this includes seven fiscal years and when accounting for rising costs over time. That money could instead pay for 100,000 hospital beds for intensive care units, 10,000 ventilators, and the salaries of 20,000 French nurses and 10,000 French doctors.*
The United Kingdom
UK spending to operate its nuclear forces and build a new nuclear submarine system came in at about £7.2 billion in 2019. And yet, reports indicate that that National Health Service is severely understaffed, with 43,000 nurse vacancies and 10,000 doctor posts unfilled. Diverting nuclear spending for just one year would meet those needs and more. £7.2 billion translates into 100,000 hospital beds for intensive care units, 30,000 ventilators, and the salaries of 50,000 British nurses and 40,000 British doctors.
The United States
The United States spent a crushing $35.1 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019, roughly twice as much as France and the United Kingdom combined. Meanwhile, experts warn that U.S. hospitals will need about 300,000 additional beds in intensive care units and tens of thousands of additional ventilators. $35.1 billion could fulfill these urgent needs for patients and more. One year of U.S. nuclear weapons spending would pay for 300,000 beds in intensive care units, 35,000 ventilators, and the salaries of 150,000 U.S. nurses and 75,000 U.S. doctors.
*Costs are based on reported averages.