The growing number of arms control and disarmament treaties agreed on over the past decades as well as rising concerns about harmful environmental and public health effects of weapons disposal, have understandably led to an increase in the cost of implementing arms control agreements. As a result, the expenses associated with treaty compliance have emerged as a contentious issue within the realm of arms control and disarmament discussions. In particular, opponents of arms control and disarmament point to perceived rising costs of meeting current and proposed treaty obligations in an attempt to limit and undermine such activities. Yet determining just how much arms control and disarmament cost remains very much an ambiguous task.

In Costs of Disarmament—Rethinking the Price Tag: A Methodological Inquiry into the Costs and Benefits of Arms Control, Susan Willett addresses the question of how the cost of arms control ought to be measured. Emphasizing the proper allocation of costs associated with arms control treaty implementation to the life cycle costs of weapon systems and their correct weighing against the benefits they procure in terms of averted arms races and increased international security, Willett argues for a revised methodology of costing arms control and disarmament that gives a more accurate—and significantly lower—estimate of the latter. Adopting such a revised methodology concludes the author, might dispel considerable misunderstanding and help point decisions over arms control and disarmament in the right direction.