Alliance sounds alarm on rising weapons cost, tax burden

Published 1:24 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

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A Knoxville-based environmental group is sounding the alarm about the country’s increased spending on weapons being deployed in defense of Israel.

The proposed U.S. defense budget allocates over $60 billion for nuclear weapons programs, a 4% increase over the previous year.

Tanvi Kardile with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance said a $14 billion package was passed recently to provide additional weapons to Israel.

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The alliance isn’t taking sides in the conflict in Gaza, and supports calls for divestment from all nuclear weapons.

“The U.S. budget for weapons just keeps getting higher and higher each year,” said Kardile. “This year, there’s an $850 billion defense budget. And this has gone up by 31% from last year, and $69 billion of those would go for nuclear weapons operations.”

U.S. policy is not to send American nuclear weapons to any other nation. And although most experts say Israel has its own nuclear arms, the nation has never admitted it.

American nuclear arms – including submarine missiles – have been deployed in the Mediterranean and could be used in defense of Israel. The U.S. also supplies it with extensive, conventional weapons.

Kardile said the alliance sees the increase in spending as a taxpayer burden, and notes the government could be using those dollars for healthcare, education, public transportation, and fighting homelessness – which would help people in Tennessee and across the country.

Besides the tax implications, Kardile said her group is concerned with the ongoing risks closer to home – tied to enriching uranium and other activities at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

She added that the projected cost of expanding the facility is up to $9.3 billion.

“It’s also a big burden on the people of Tennessee because it is a public health risk, environmental risk as well,” said Kardile. “So, this issue directly affects Tennesseans.”

The U.S. Department of Energy says the Y-12 complex “plays a key role in strengthening national security,” and that nuclear weapons are a deterrent to the nation’s enemies.

But Kardile said major defense contractors have seen their stock prices skyrocket as they continue to profit from the war in Gaza, and from weapons sales in general.