United Nations: In a significant departure from past practise the United States of America revealed the size of its nuclear arsenal on Monday as part of its ongoing initiative to curb nuclear proliferation around the world. It said its stockpile of nuclear weapons stood at 5,113, a figure more-or-less in line with previous estimates by arms-control groups.
|Nuclear weapons onboard an American B-52 bomber|
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed it was the disclosure of a long-held secret that was important. "We think it is in our national security interest to be as transparent as we can about the nuclear program of the United States," she told reporters at a high-level nuclear conference in New York, where she announced the change in policy. "We think that builds confidence."
Shortly thereafter the Pentagon issued a fact sheet saying that the number of working US nuclear warheads was down from a peak of 31,255 in 1967. It also said that thousands of weapons have been retired and await dismantlement.
This number, according to analysts, is around 4,500.
The disclosures were made on a day when the United Nations is holding a conference to review the 40-year-old Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty pact. The Americans have put the treaty at the centre of an ambitious nuclear agenda to check the rise of nuclear weapons around the world, and in particular to hold rogue states accountable for their acts of omissions and commissions in this regard.
As part of a proposed arrangement the Americans are offering that the five initial nuclear powers gradually destroy their nuclear stockpiles, even as other countries pledge to never develop them. In return the other countries receive help on developing nuclear energy programs, but under UN safeguards.
Though cosmetic in nature, the Obama administration has tried to portray progress in this regard by recently signing an arms agreement with Russia.
At the conference, Clinton also announced a US move to raise $100 million over five years to help NPT members pursue nuclear energy, as long as they stuck to their commitments against seeking the bomb. Half of the contribution would be made by Washington, she said.