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.


John Isaacs

John Isaacs

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


Apr 9, 2015

Letter to President Obama on Leaving a Nuclear Legacy

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation penned this letter to President Barack Obama praising him for his achievements on nuclear weapons thus far, along with steps he can take to improve his legacy in the last 18 months of his Administration.

Mar 26, 2015

25 Organizations Support Nuclear Spending Reductions Act

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation signed onto a letter to Members of Congress urging them to support the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act of 2015 (SANE), sponsored by Sen. Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Sanders (I.Vt.) and Sen. Merkley (D-Ore.).

Feb 2, 2015

Reuters Cites Center Fact Sheet on Nuclear Weapons Inventories

Reuters cited the Center's fact sheet on Global Nuclear Weapons inventories in an article published last week.

Jan 23, 2015

Factsheet: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Total Inventory

There's a misleading tendency among nuclear weapons advocates to equate the 2018 New Start limit with the total number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Rather, the total is nearly four times that total.

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.

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