The Washington Post

Nuclear program cost: How much?

An atomic explosion mushroom over Christmas Island in the Equatorial Pacific during U.S. experiments. This bomb was exploded from a plane. (AP Photo/Oakland Tribune) (Anonymous/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Obama administration, no friend of nukes, said that was about triple what the program actually cost. Kessler, though commending Ploughshares’ efforts, said they needed to re-work the numbers.

In response, Ploughshares said: “Whether we are spending $500 billion or $700 billion on nuclear weapons in the next decade -- the number is still too high.”

This prompted other anti-nuke folks to criticize Ploughshares for bad tactics. Eric Sapp, executive director of American Values Network, argued in an e-mail that “backing off the number,” is like “blood in the water . . for our opposition.”

“For better or worse, $700B is out there,” he noted in an e-mail to allies, “if we start openly backing off of it we run a BIG risk of building political and press momentum around the narrative that we just made this all up and don’t have any credibility.”

Sapp, in a piece in The Huffington Post, strongly defended the number, though he, too, said even if it were off by a bit it the cost would still be too much. “The number shouldn’t distract from the debate,” he told us, “but we didn’t just make this up.”

The debate continues.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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