Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nuclear Arms Control and Nonproliferation Highlights of SIPRI Yearbook 2008

On Monday (June 9), the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its annual yearbook on armaments, disarmament, and international security.

Speaking at the launch of the 2008 yearbook, SIPRI director Dr. Bates Gill noted, “We probably have before us one of the most promising opportunities to see real progress in nuclear-related arms control and nonproliferation than we have seen, at least over the past 10 years.”

Gill alluded approvingly to a recent speech on nuclear nonproliferation policy by presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and applauded presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama for calling for a world free of nuclear weapons (for a series of CACNP summaries and analyses on McCain’s speech and the specifics of the candidates’ arms control and nonproliferation platforms, see here, here, and here).

In addition, Gill spoke highly of the efforts of Kissinger, Schultz, Perry, and Nunn, who, according to Gill, “are arguing very forcefully of the need of the major world powers, particularly the United States and Russia, to take serious steps in the coming years to hold up their side of the bargain that is enshrined in the NPT.” As I noted in a post yesterday, the impact that these men have made on the global debate about nuclear weapons cannot be overstated.

As far as the nuclear arms control and nonproliferation substance of the yearbook, highlights include:
  • As of January 2008, the United States continues to deploy 4,075 strategic and non-strategic warheads, while Russia continues to deploy 5,189 such warheads.
  • If all nuclear warheads are counted – operational warheads, spares, those in both active and inactive storage, and intact warheads scheduled for later dismantlement – those states that possess nuclear weapons together possess a total of more than 25, 000 warheads, approximately 24,000 of which are in the possession of the U.S. and Russia.
  • As of 2007, global stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) totaled approximately 1370 tons (not including 346 tons to be blended down).
  • As of 2007, global military stocks of separated plutonium totaled approximately 228–282 tons and civilian stocks totaled 244.9 tons.
And to think that before a December 2007 announcement by the Bush administration approving a cut of 4,500 warheads, the United States possessed approximately 10,000 warheads! Despite all of the Bush administration’s talk about how the threats we face today differ from those we faced during the Cold War, our (and Russia’s) nuclear doctrine remains firmly on a Cold War footing. This is a strategic mindset the next president will have to free America's national security bureaucracy from if he hopes to truly reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons.


Anonymous said...

Nuclear arms reduction is important, and in fairness SIPRI should mention that the US is ahead of its dismantlement schedule. Furthermore SIPRI neglects to mention dismantlement capacity (i.e., the capacity to increase dismantlements). Currently Pantex the site where dismantlement is undertaken in the US is at full capacity. Many of its facilities are aging and outdated. Safety is paramount and extreme care must be taken during each nuclear weapon dismantlement. All nuclear weapon systems are sophisticated and vary significantly in design. Each system requires considerable hazard and safety analysis, and sophisticated tooling before being taken apart. The focal point should be to reduce or stockpile safety and not pursue a reckless goal that exceeds our abilities. Nuclear weapons within the US are being reduced in a positive way while it appears little is being done to stop rouge nations in their dangerous pursuits.

Tech Guy Stevie 789 said...

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is circulating an Appeal to the Next US President, calling for US leadership for a nuclear weapons-free world.

You can read it and sign online at