Center for Arms Control

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapons

For the latest Nuclear Weapons related news and analysis, please see the Nukes on a Blog section of Nukes of Hazard.



Reagan and Gorbachev sign the INF Treaty (1987). Reagan library.

By the late 1960s, it became apparent that while the arms race between the United States and Soviet Union was yielding thousands of additional nuclear weapons, it was not leading to greater security for either country or the world at-large.

In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the NPT, was opened for signature. In addition to establishing an international commitment to nonproliferation, the NPT laid the groundwork for eventual disarmament by all existing nuclear states. This disarmament vision was embodied in Article VI, which called upon signatories to negotiate "effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race" as well as "general and complete disarmament."

The NPT served as a prelude to the first round of Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT I) between the U.S. and Soviet Union. On May 26, 1972, SALT I produced bilateral pledges to freeze at existing levels the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers possessed by each country and to take other steps to mitigate the arms race. Most notably, SALT I also produced the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty banning missile defense systems as well as an interim agreement on strategic offensive arms.

In the past 30 years, various important agreements were negotiated, signed, and ratified between the United States, Soviet Union (and its successor states), and other parties to reduce strategic nuclear stockpiles. These include the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (START I) and the associated Lisbon Protocol, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT or Moscow Treaty), and the New START treaty.

Thanks to these agreements and significant unilateral reductions by the United States, Russia, and other nuclear weapons states, the global stockpile of nuclear weapons is significantly less that it was during the Cold War. However, there are still approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons in nine countries, 95% of which belong to the United States and Russia. Meanwhile, the nuclear weapons states continue to spend large amounts of money to sustain and modernize their nuclear arsenals. According to a recent estimate, the United States spent $31 billion in FY 2011 on its strategic offensive nuclear forces.

CENTER EXPERT

John Isaacs

John Isaacs

Senior Fellow
202-546-0795 ext. 2222
jdi AT armscontrolcenter DOT org


RECENT ANALYSIS

Dec 1, 2014

National Interest Publishes Article on Minimal-Deterrence by Lt. Gen Robert Gard and Greg Terryn

"The United States’ overstocked nuclear arsenal addresses a threat that no longer exists, and instead results in elevated risks with no added value."

Nov 15, 2014

Wall Street Journal Quotes Angela Canterbury on Pentagon's Announcement to Upgrade Nuclear Forces

Council Executive Director Angela Canterbury was quoted in the Wall Street Journal with her analysis of a press conference Friday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who announced his $1.5 billion plans to upgrade U.S. nuclear forces.

Nov 10, 2014

U.S. Leading the Way on Nuclear Weapons Conference

Today, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation issued praise for the Obama Administration's announcement that the U.S. will participate in the December 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. This comes as a sign of renewed commitment on behalf of the President toward making good on his Prague promises of reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.

Nov 10, 2014

LA Times Quotes Board Member Phil Coyle on Aging U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

"God help us if we ever need them," said Center Board Member Phil Coyle to the LA Times in an article underlining the minimal risk of a U.S.-Russia nuclear standoff, compared to the grave risks posed by the hundreds of ICBM's kept on high-alert on U.S. soil.

Nov 9, 2014

LA Times Quotes Board Member Phil Coyle on Rising Costs of Nuclear Weapons

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Oct 30, 2014

Finalizing the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization (NDAA): Key Issues for Congress

As the House and Senate begin to work behind the scenes to write a final bill of the National Defense Authorization Act, it should take the enclosed seven steps recommended by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

Oct 29, 2014

Business Insider Publishes Post by Sarah Tully on North Korea's Nuclear Program

For over a year, the U.S. has been all eyes on Iran, but is this distracting us from states that already have nuclear weapons—such as the ever-unpredictable North Korea? On the Nukes of Hazard blog, Sarah Tully suggests that the DPRK’s nuclear program is “flying under the radar” while the U.S. spends its days engaging Iran and refusing to engage North Korea. The post was most recently published in the Business Insider.

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