The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project was completed in August 1998 and resulted in the book Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 edited by Stephen I. Schwartz. These project pages should be considered historical.

New research on arms control and nuclear weapons is being conducted by the Brookings Arms Control Initiative.


Abbreviations and Acronyms

A Methodological Note



1. Building the Bomb

2. Deploying the Bomb

3. Targeting and Controlling the Bomb

4. Defending Against the Bomb

5. Dismantling the Bomb

6. Nuclear Waste Management and Environmental Remediation

7. Victims of the Bomb

8. The Costs and Consequences of Nuclear Secrecy

9. Congressional Oversight of the Bomb

10. The Economic Implications of Nuclear Weapons

11. Strengthening Atomic Accountability


A. U.S. Nuclear Weapons Production Costs, 1948-96

B. Selected DOD Nuclear Weapons Program Costs, 1962-95

C. Nuclear Weapons Production and Naval Nuclear Propulsion Facilities

D. Assessing the Costs of Other Nuclear Weapon States

E. Steering Committee of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project

Selected Bibliography


1 Breakdown of Total Actual and Estimated Expenditures for U.S. Nuclear Weapons, 1940-96
2 Estimated Air Force and Overall DOD Expenditures for Nuclear Weapons, 1944-54
1-1 Auditing the Manhattan Project: Where Did the Money Go?
1-2 Manhattan Project and AEC Expenses, July 1, 1940, to June 30, 1947
1-3 U.S. Nuclear Warheads, 1945-97
1-4 Estimated DOD Expenditures on Nuclear Testing, Research, and Development
2-1 U.S. Strategic Bombers, 1945-97
2-2 Missile Silos and Launch Facilities Constructed in the United States, 1960-67
2-3 U.S. Missiles, 1945-96
2-4 Canceled U.S. Nuclear Missile Programs, 1943-91
2-5 U.S. Nuclear Delivery Systems, 1945-97
5-1 DOD Nuclear Weapons Storage Sites, 1998
5-2 Weapons Activities and Materials Support Costs at the Pantex and Y-12 Plants, 1991-96
5-3 Estimated Cost of Plutonium Disposition Options
6-1 Volume and Radioactivity of Waste Created during U.S. Nuclear Weapons Production
6-2 DOE Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Expenditures, 1989-96
6-3 Summary of Hazardous Substances Released to the Environment at Hanford Reservation
6-4 Official Cost Estimates to “Clean Up” the DOE’s Nuclear Weapons Production Complex, 1988-96
6-5 The DOE’s Five Most Expensive Contaminated Sites
7-1 Examples of U.S. Radiation Experimentation on Humans
9-2 House and Senate Committees and Subcommittees with Jurisdiction over Nuclear Weapons Programs, 1998
1 Estimated Minimum Incurred Costs of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Programs, 1940-96
2 U.S. Government Historical Obligations by Function, 1940-96
3 How Much Was Enough? Official Estimates of Nuclear Weapons Requirements, 1957-95
1-1 The Costs of Building the Bomb
1-2 U.S. Nuclear Weapons Research, Testing, and Production Facilities
1-3 The Nuclear Weapons Production Complex, Mid-1950s-Mid 1960s
1-4 Global Nuclear Stockpiles, 1945-97
1-5 Global Nuclear Weapons Tests, 1945-96
1-6 Expenditures for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Materials Production, 1948-96
1-7 Expenditures for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Research, Development, Testing, and Production, 1942-96
1-8 DOD Expenditures for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Research, Development, and Testing, 1946-95
2-1 The Costs of Deploying the Bomb
2-2 Average Unit Acquisition Costs for Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicles
2-3 U.S. and U.S.S.R./Russian Strategic Offensive Nuclear Forces, 1945-97
3-1 The Costs of Targeting and Controlling the Bomb
3-2 The Evolving SIOP: Growth in Designated Targets for U.S. Strategic Nuclear Warheads, 1959-95
3-3 Organization of the U.S. Intelligence Community
4-1 The Costs of Defending Against the Bomb
4-2 The Cost of U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense Programs, 1962-96
5-1 The Costs of Dismantling the Bomb
5-2 DOE Facilities Currently Involved in Nuclear Weapons Dismantlement
6-1 The Costs of Nuclear Waste Management and Environmental Remediation
6-2 Employment Levels in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Production Complex, 1949-71
6-3 DOE Spending on Environmental Remediation and Waste Management Programs, 1978-96
7-1 The Costs of Victims of the Bomb
7-2 Percentage of Fernald Workers with Lung Doses of Uranium Exceeding Prevailing Limits, 1952-80
7-3 Average Per Capita Thyroid Doses of Iodine-131 from U.S. Nuclear Testing Fallout, by County, 1951-62
7-4 Northern Marshall Islands
8-1 “It is desired that no document be released. . .”
9-1 The Costs of Congressional Oversight of the Bomb
9-2 U.S. Expenditures for National Defense, 1940-96
1 Visualizing the Cost of Nuclear Weapons
1-1 Growth and Evolution of the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile
1-2 Selecting a Continental Test Site
2-1 Europe and American Nuclear Strategy
2-2 Weapons That Did Not Make the Cut
2-3 Keeping Track of the Bomb
3-1 Securing Control of the Skies
3-2 SIOP Milestones
3-3 Emergency Command Posts and the Continuity of Government
3-4 The Football
4-1 “Looking for a Needle in a Haystack of Needles”
4-2 Neither Snow, Nor Sleet, Nor Heat, Nor Fallout. . .
4-3 Protecting America’s Cultural Heritage
6-1 Other Key Agencies
7-1 Monitoring the Aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
7-2 The U.S. Transuranium and Uranium Registries
7-3 Broken Arrows: The Palomares and Thule Accidents
7-4 Dose Reconstructions and Health Assessments
7-5 A Kodak Moment
8-1 Types of Classified Information and Nuclear Security Clearances
8-2 Moses Gets Clearance
8-3 The Green Run
8-4 Typical Costs of Security Investigations
8-5 Secrecy Run Amok
9-1 Representation of Selected Nuclear Weapons Production Facilities in the U.S. Senate, 1945-97
9-2 The JCAE and the Development of the Permissive Action Link
9-3 Other Agencies and Organizations with Oversight Functions
10-1 Items Developed in Connection with the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program with Actual or Potential Non-military Uses

Copyright © 1998 The Brookings Institution