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Nukes by the Numbers

Earlier this week, Senator Lindsey Graham reportedly told a packed house at an AIPAC meeting that he urges a military strike against Iran before they develop a nuclear bomb. As you know, Iran claims its uranium enrichment program is for civil nuclear power purposes only, and not for nuclear weapons.

Well, the next time Lindsay Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina, or any of his right-wing cronies in Congress happen to mention uranium enrichment, or development of nuclear weapons, consider these numbers from the Brookings Institution archives about our own nuclear ambitions:

The cost for the Manhattan Project, a plan to develop the atom bomb during World War II, through the fall of 1945, was $20 billion.

From 1951 through 1998 alone, the U.S. built nearly 68,000 nuclear missiles, or more than 22,000 nuclear missiles a year.

Total number of nuclear bombers built, in the same period, 4,680

The Army requested more than 150,000 nuclear warheads in the years 1956 and 1956.

Even after the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, the Army is projected to request, in the year 2012, somewhere around 2,000 operational nuclear warheads.

Also, according to the Brookings Institution, the states that have the most nuclear weapons, as of 1999, are New Mexico, Georgia, Washington, Nevada, and North Dakota.

The Department of Energy paid lawyers about $100,000 to ward off litigation from workers and citizens from the fall of 1990 through the spring of 1995.

More than 100 nuclear tests have been conducted in the Pacific, and nearly 1,000 in Nevada.

And, as of 1995, the number of classified pages said to be in the possession of the DOE -- at least 280 million.

And, here's the clincher:

As of twelve years ago, 1998, the date of this study, the U.S. spent approximately $35 billion not just on nuclear weaponry, but on nuclear weapons programs.

It's heartening to know that the U.S. and Russia are moving closer to an agreement to dramatically reduce their nuclear arsenal, but it's important to also know just how vast those arsenals are, especially when considering ambitions of other countries like Iran and North Korea.

Iran's nuclear ambitions, such as they are, are chump change when compared with what we, in the U.S., have already accomplished. To suggest otherwise would be to say that a goldfish can swallow a shark.

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