Changing the Nuclear Posture: moving smartly without leaping

Release of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is delayed once again.  Originally due late last year, in part so it could inform the on-going negotiations on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty Follow-on (START-FO), after a couple of delays it was supposed to be released today, 1 March, but last week word got out that it will be coming out yet another 2-4 weeks later.  Some reports are that the delay reflects deep divisions within the administration over the direction of the NPR.  That means that there is really only one person left whose opinion matters and that is the president.

We can only hope that President Obama makes clear that he meant what he said in Prague and elsewhere.  This NPR is crucial.  If it is incremental, if it relegates a world free of nuclear weapons to an inspiring aspiration, then we are stuck with our current nuclear standoff for another generation.  This is the time to decisively shift direction.  But we should not be paralyzed by thinking that the only movement available is a giant leap into the unknown.  We need to move decisively in the right direction, sure, but we can do that in steps. Continue reading

Missile Watch – February 2010

Missile Watch
A publication of the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Vol. 3, Issue 1
February 2010
Editor: Matt Schroeder
Contributing Author: Matt Buongiorno
Graphics: Alexis Paige


Global Overview

Afghanistan: No recent discoveries of shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles in insurgent arms caches
Eritrea: UN slaps arms embargo on major missile proliferator
Iraq: Fewer public reports of seized shoulder-fired missiles in Iraq, but MANPADS still a threat
Ireland: Alleged plot to shoot down a police helicopter may have involved surface-to-air missile
Myanmar: 300 shoulder-fired missiles in insurgent arsenal, claims Thai Colonel
North Korea: North Korean arms shipment included MANPADS, Thai report confirms
Peru: Igla missiles stolen from Peruvian military arsenals, claims alleged trafficker
Spain: Failed assassination attempts underscore the risks for terrorists of relying on black market missiles
United States: Congress to receive DHS report on anti-missile systems for commercial airliners in February
United States: Documents from trial of the “Prince of Marbella” reveal little about his access to shoulder-fired missiles
United States: No new international MANPADS sales since 1999
Venezuela: U.S. receives “assurances” from Russia regarding controls on shoulder-fired missiles sold to Venezuela, but questions remain

Additional News & Resources

About Missile Watch

About the Authors

Continue reading

Russian Nuclear Forces 2010

Russia’s Teykovo 4 missile garrison northeast of Moscow is undergoing major upgrades for new SS-27 mobile nuclear missiles. Click image for large illustration of the changes.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The latest overview of Russia’s nuclear forces produced by Robert Norris from NRDC and myself is now available on the website of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

We estimate that Russia currently (January 2010) deploys approximately 4,600 nuclear weapons, down from roughly 4,800 a year ago. The arsenal includes some 2,600 strategic warheads and about 2,000 warheads for nonstrategic forces. Another 7,300 weapons are thought to be in reserve or awaiting dismantlement for a total inventory of approximately 12,000 nuclear warheads. We estimate the weapons are stored at 48 permanent storage sites. Continue reading

Estimated Nuclear Weapons Locations 2009

Some 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at 111 locations around the world (click for map)

By Hans M. Kristensen

The world’s approximately 23,300 nuclear weapons are stored at an estimated 111 locations in 14 countries, according to an overview produced by FAS and NRDC.

Nearly half of the weapons are operationally deployed with delivery systems capable of launching on short notice.

The overview is published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and includes the July 2009 START memorandum of understanding data. A previous version was included in the annual report from the International Panel of Fissile Materials published last month. Continue reading

Clinton On Nuclear Preemption

No preemptive nuclear options, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By Hans M. Kristensen

During an interview with Ekho Moskvy Radio last week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked if “the American [nuclear] doctrine incorporate[s] preemptive nuclear strikes against an aggressor?”

The Secretary’s answer was: “No, no.”

Ahem…. Continue reading

The Big Picture – what is really at stake with the START follow-on Treaty

by Alicia Godsberg

There is cause for cautious optimism after Presidents Obama and Medvedev signed their START follow-on Joint Understanding in Moscow last Monday – the goal of completing a legally binding bilateral nuclear disarmament agreement with verification measures is preferable to letting START expire without an agreement or without one that keeps some sort of verification protocol.  The Joint Understanding leaves some familiar questions open, such as the lack of definition of a “strategic offensive weapon” and what to do about the thousands of nuclear warheads in reserve or awaiting dismantlement.  But so far few analysts on either side of the nuclear debate have been talking about the big picture, what for the vast majority of the world (and therefore our own national security) is really at stake here – the viability of the nonproliferation regime itself. Continue reading

START Follow-On: What SORT of Agreement?

Presidents Obama and Medvedev sign a joint understanding on a START follow-on treaty.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The Joint Understanding for the START Follow-on Treaty signed by President Obama and Medvedev on July 6, 2009, commits the United States and Russia to “reduce their strategic warheads to a range of 1500-1675, and their strategic delivery vehicles to a range of 500-1100.”

Negotiators will still have to hammer out the details and draft a new treaty that the presidents can sign, hopefully by the end of the year, to be implemented in seven years.

The Summit was a good effort to revive U.S.-Russian relations, but seven years is a very long timeline for a START follow-on that doesn’t force either side to change very much. Does it rule out deeper cuts for the rest of the Obama administration? Continue reading

US-Russia Summit Nuclear Weapons Information

By Hans M. Kristensen

Can they do it? Expectations are high for the July Moscow Summit to produce an agreement to extent the START Treaty and commit to additional nuclear weapons reductions in the future. The following provides quick access to information about nuclear weapons numbers:

Overview of World Nuclear Forces

Global Nuclear Stockpiles, 1945-2006

US and Russian Total Nuclear Arsenals:

United States


Briefing slides on history of US and Russian nuclear arsenals

US and Russian Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons:

US Nuclear weapons in Europe

History of US nuclear weapons in South Korea

Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Other Nuclear Weapon States (Most Recent Overviews):

France, China, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea