US says nuclear arsenal includes 5,113 warheads

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States disclosed for the first time yesterday the current size of its nuclear arsenal, lifting the veil on once top-secret numbers in an effort to bolster non-proliferation efforts.

The Pentagon said it had a total of 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile at the end of September, down 84 percent from a peak of 31,225 in 1967. The arsenal stood at 22,217 warheads when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

The figure includes warheads that are operationally deployed, kept in active reserve and held in inactive storage. But it does not include “several thousand” warheads that are now retired and awaiting dismantlement, the Pentagon said.

“The United States is showing that it is being increasingly transparent,” a senior US defense official told reporters at the Pentagon.

“It’s part of our commitment … to set the stage for strength in non-proliferation and for further arms control.”

The official declined to offer the Pentagon’s estimate for Russia’s arsenal and renewed calls for greater transparency by China, saying there was “little visibility” when it came to Beijing’s nuclear programme.

The United States is also pushing for a new round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

By releasing the data during the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, analysts said the United States was trying to show it is cutting its arsenal so as to help persuade other states to tighten the global non-proliferation regime.

“It is hugely important for the United States to be able to say, ‘Look we are living up to our obligations under the NPT,” said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

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