The cost of nuclear weapons
Nuclear weapons programmes divert public funds from health care, education, disaster relief and other vital services. The nine nuclear-armed nations spend many tens of billions of dollars each year maintaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals: in 2021 they squandered $82.4 billion on their nuclear weapons during a global pandemic, rising global food insecurity and only months before Russia began assembling troops on the border with Ukraine. Funding allocated to disarmament efforts is minuscule by comparison.
ICAN releases yearly research into the global spending on nuclear weapons:
Nuclear weapons are the only devices ever created that have the capacity to destroy all complex life forms on Earth. It would take less than 0.1% of the explosive yield of the current global nuclear arsenal to bring about devastating agricultural collapse and widespread famine. The smoke and dust from fewer than 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear explosions would cause an abrupt drop in global temperatures and rainfall.
“Climate change may be the global policy issue that has captured most attention in the last decade, but the problem of nuclear weapons is at least its equal in terms of gravity – and much more immediate in its potential impact.” – International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, 2009
Nuclear-armed states' decision to divert public resources from health care to weapons of mass destruction is unconscionable. Nuclear weapons produce health consequences that span generations. No meaningful disaster relief is possible even to those who survive the immediate nuclear blast. The explosion of a nuclear bomb creates incinerating heat, a powerful shockwave, ash and smoke, and ionizing radiation. Those exposed to ionizing radiation who do not die immediately from radiation sickness, may be sick for years and decades, they may develop cancers and the radiation can cause serious birth defects. People living near nuclear test sites still suffer these consequences today.