U.S. to unveil new plans to further reduce nuclear arsenal
WASHINGTON, June 16 Kyodo - U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to compile
and unveil soon, possibly by the end of this month, plans to further reduce
the country's nuclear arsenal, high-level U.S. officials said Friday.
The U.S. government would seek, through future negotiations with Russia, a
substantially larger reduction in operational strategic nuclear weapons from
the 1,550 the United States is allowed to maintain under a new START treaty
The United States would also explore the possibility for unilaterally
abandoning a portion of the roughly 3,000 reserve warheads not yet deployed,
the officials said.
While the Obama administration is making final adjustments over the size of
the reduction target for operational strategic nuclear weapons, one official
floated the possibility of reducing the number to about 1,000.
Nuclear experts close to the Obama administration have put the figure at
between 1,000 and 1,100.
The administration's plans to seek additional cuts in nuclear weapons
reflects Obama's aspiration to seek a world without nuclear weapons as
proclaimed in a speech in Prague, the Czech Republic, in April 2009.
But the administration plans to make no unilateral cuts in strategic nuclear
weapons, instead seeking reassurances from Moscow through a new treaty or a
political agreement that Russia would make similar reductions, the officials
Russia, for its part, is warily watching its Cold War adversary over concern
that U.S. efforts to build an antiballistic shield in Europe could render
Russia's strategic nuclear weapons ineffective, showing no sign that it
would be willing to respond to a U.S. offer.
Obama's new operational guidelines for nuclear weapons would be the
culmination of work launched after his administration concluded the
so-called Nuclear Posture Review in 2010.
The Obama administration has argued that one of the principal roles nuclear
weapons play in U.S. policy is to provide a so-called "nuclear umbrella" to
such U.S. allies as Japan and South Korea.
The administration concluded in its latest review that the United States can
maintain an effective nuclear deterrent even if it maintains fewer than the
1,550 strategic nuclear weapons stipulated under the New Strategic Arms
Reduction Treaty with Russia, according to the officials.
The option of reducing them to the 300 level was discussed but eventually
dismissed as insufficient to maintain a credible deterrent, the officials
The United States currently has about 5,000 nuclear weapons in its
stockpile, of which just below 2,000 are operational strategic nuclear
weapons, 200 are shorter-range operational tactical weapons, and about 3,000
reserve nuclear warheads.
Separately, it has about 3,000 warheads waiting to be dismantled.