The US has disclosed that its nuclear weapons stockpile stands at 3,750 warheads as of September 2020. Tuesday’s revelation marks a departure from the policy of the administration of the former US President Donald Trump, which kept the information secret.
The US State Department said that the total includes weapons both active as well as those in long-term storage. It said that the move will aid global efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons.
The department said that the count was down from 3,805 a year earlier and 3,785 warheads in 2018.
March 2018 was the last time the US government released its nuclear stockpile count, early in the Trump administration. At the time, the total stood at 3,822 as of September 2017. The Trump administration subsequently kept the updated numbers secret. The previous administration also denied a request by the Federation of American Scientists to declassify the information.
As recently as 2003, the US nuclear arsenal was slightly above 10,000. At the highest of the decades-long Cold War with the Society Union, Washington’s nuke cache also stood at its peak of 31,255 in 1967.
Biden’s arms control bid
The declassification of the nukes count comes after US President Joe Biden expressed his intention to restart arms control dialogue with Russia after four years of stalling under Trump.
The Biden administration is also carrying out a nuclear weapons posture and policy review that is expected to be concluded by early 2022.
Earlier in February, addressing the global Conference on Disarmament US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “President Biden has made it clear: the US has a national security imperative and a moral responsibility to reduce and eventually eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.”
“Back to transparency”
The director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists Hans Kristensen welcomed the return to transparency. He said that it was a wise move by the Biden administration to reverse the Trump administration’s policy.
Kristensen said that disclosing the stockpile number will assist US diplomats in arms control negotiations. Kristensen also referred to the next year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference that is expected to review the disarmament commitment made by nuclear powers who are treaty signatories, including the US.