Competitive development of new weapons

Other Names:
Waste of resources on armaments research
Nuclear weapons research
Weapon experimentation

Military research and development is concerned with stimulating the advancement of scientific knowledge and cultivating technical progress for military purposes. It is immediately directed, for the most part, at the creation of new and improved weapons, counter-measures and other military systems and equipment. Such research results in the replacement of existing offensive and defensive systems by generations of successively more complex, costly and lethal types; and is a direct incentive to the arms race, since each qualitative improvement in a weapon system by one country is a spur to further effort by the other. Military research and development has seriously distorted the whole pattern of world research and development away from the pressing needs of, for instance, agriculture, pollution and medicine. This includes the diversion of educated manpower from constructive civilian activities into the development of destructive weaponry, particularly of the more indiscriminate and inhumane variety.


Estimates of R and D expenditure during 1970-1980 were US$ 117 billion for the USA, and US$ 36 billion for the EEC/EU countries. The world total may have exceeded US$ 250 billion in that decade (putting USA expenditure at approximately 46.8% and EEC/EU countries at approximately 13.4% of total) compared with US$ 187 billion from 1961 to 1970. The USA, the UK, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany accounted for over 90% of Western expenditure. It is estimated that the USSR outlay was 30-37% of the world total. In 1984, expenditure on military research and development was estimated at US$ 70 to 80 billion world-wide, increasing at twice the rate of military expenditure as a whole.

Narrower Problems:
Nuclear weapons testing
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Date of last update
06.01.2021 – 20:34 CET