New START Numbers Show Importance of Extending Treaty

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By Hans M. Kristensen

The latest New START treaty aggregate numbers published by the State Department earlier today show a slight increase in U.S. deployed strategic forces and a slight decrease in Russian deployed strategic forces over the past six months.

The data shows that the United States and Russia as of September 1, 2018 combined deployed a total of 1,176 strategic launchers with 2,818 attributed warheads. In addition, the two countries also had a total of 399 non-deployed launchers for a total of 1,576 strategic launchers.

Combined, the two countries have reduced their deployed strategic forces by 227 launchers and 519 warheads since 2011.

The warheads counted by the New START treaty are only a portion of the total warhead numbers possessed by the two countries. The Russian military stockpile includes an estimated 4,350 warheads while the United States has about 3,800.

The release of the data comes at a particular important time when the United States and Russia are considering whether to extend the New START treaty for another five years beyond 2021 when it expires. The treaty is under attack from defense hawks in Congress and the Trump administration is weighing whether to extend New START in light of Russia’s alleged violation of other agreements.

The data reaffirms that Russia, despite its modernization program, is not increasing its strategic nuclear forces but continue to limit them in compliance with the limitations of New START. In our latest Nuclear Notebook on Russia forces, we estimate that the New START limits recently caused Russia to reduce the number of warheads deployed on several of its strategic missiles.

Deployed Warheads

The data shows that the United States as of September 1 deployed 1,398 warheads on its strategic launchers. This is an increase of 48 warheads since February. Since 2011, the United States has offloaded 402 attributed warheads from its force.

The 1,398 is not the actual number of warheads deployed because bombers are artificially attributed one weapon each even though they don’t carry any weapons in peacetime. The actual number of deployed warheads is closer to 1,350.

Russia was counted with 1,420 deployed strategic warheads, a reduction of 24 warheads from February, and a total of 117 attributed warheads offloaded since 2011. Russian bombers also do not carry weapons so the Russian number is probably closer to 1,370 deployed strategic warheads.

These changes don’t reflect one country building up and the other reducing its forces, but are caused by fluctuations when launchers move in and out of maintenance or old launchers are retired or new ones added.

Deployed Launchers

The data shows the United States deployed 659 strategic launchers, an increase of 7 since February, and a total reduction of 223 launchers since 2011.

Russia deployed 517 strategic launchers, 142 fewer than the United States. That is 10 launchers less than in February, and a total reduction of 4 launchers since 2011.

Non-Deployed Launchers

The data also shows how many non-deployed launchers the two countries have. These are either empty launchers that are in reserve or overhaul or have not yet been destroyed.

The United States had 141 non-deployed launchers, which included empty ICBM silos, bombers in overhaul, and empty missile tubes on SSBNs in overhaul or refit. Since 2011, the United States has destroyed 101 non-deployed launchers.

Russia was counted with 258 non-deployed launchers. This includes empty ICBM silos, empty missile tubes on SSBNs in overhaul, and bombers in overhaul. Since 2011, Russia has destroyed 86 non-deployed launchers.

Essential Verification In Troubled Times

The treaty includes an important verification system that requires the United States and Russia to exchange vast amounts of data about the numbers and operations of their strategic forces and allows them to inspect each other’s facilities.

Since the treaty entered into effect in 2011, the two countries have exchanged 16,444 notifications about launcher movements and telemetry data; 1,603 since February this year.

Data released by the State Department shows that U.S. and Russian inspectors have conducted a total of 277 on-site inspections of each other’s strategic forces and facilities since the treaty entered into force in 2011. So far this year, U.S. officials have inspected Russian facilities 13 times compared with 12 Russian inspections of U.S. facilities.

The combined effects of limiting deployed strategic forces and the verification activities requiring professional collaboration between U.S. and Russian officials, mean that the New START treaty has become a beacon of light in the otherwise troubled relations between Russia and the United States, far more so than anyone could have predicted in 2010 when the treaty was signed.

Other background information:

This publication was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the New Land Foundation, and the Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

Despite Rhetoric, US Stockpile Continues to Decline

Click on image to view full size. Full document here.

By Hans M. Kristensen

The US nuclear weapons stockpile dropped to 3,822 warheads by September 2017 – down nearly 200 warheads from the last year of the Obama administration, according to new information released by the Department of Defense in response to a request from the Federation of American Scientists (see here for full document).

Since September 2017, the number has likely declined a little further to about 3,800 warheads as of March 2018. This is the lowest number of stockpiled warheads since 1957 (see graph), although the nuclear weapons and the conventional capabilities that make up today’s arsenal are vastly more capable than back then.

Click on graph to see full size version.

The new data also shows that the United States dismantled 354 warheads during the period October 2016 to September 2017 – the highest number of warheads dismantled in a single year since 2009. Since 1994, the United States has dismantled nearly 11,000 nuclear warheads.

The continued reductions are not the result of new arms control agreements or a change in defense planning, but reflects a longer trend of the Pentagon working to reduce excess numbers of warheads while upgrading the remaining weapons. This trend is as old as the Post Cold war era.

The majority of the warheads retired during the Trump administration’s first year probably included W76-0 warheads no longer needed as feedstock for the Navy’s W76-1 life-extension program.

The reduction has happened despite tensions with Russia, bombastic nuclear statements by President Donald Trump, and Nuclear Posture Review assertions about return of Great Power competition and need for new nuclear weapons.

The apparent disconnect between rhetoric and the stockpile trend illustrates that nuclear deterrence and national security are less about the size of the arsenal than what it, and the overall defense posture, can do and how it is postured.

Although defense hawks home and abroad will likely seize upon the reduction and argue that it undermines deterrence and reassurance, the reality is that it does not; the remaining arsenal is more than sufficient to meet the requirements for national security and international obligations. On the contrary, it is a reminder that there still is considerable excess capacity in the current nuclear arsenal beyond what is needed.

President Trump recently said he expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin “in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race,” which Trump added “is getting out of control…” He is right. In such discussions he should urge Russia to follow the U.S. example and also disclose the size of its nuclear warhead stockpile, agree to extend the New START treaty for five years, work out a roadmap to resolve INF Treaty compliance issues, and develop new agreements to regulate nuclear and advanced conventional forces.

There is much work to be done.

Additional information:

Declassified stockpile numbers.

Recent FAS Nuclear Notebook on US nuclear forces (written before the new stockpile information became available).

For an overview of all nuclear-armed states, see our Status of World Nuclear Forces.

This publication was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the New Land Foundation, and the Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

 

Pentagon Review To Fix Nuclear Problems – Again

Less than a decade after the Pentagon conducted a major review to fix problems in the nuclear management of U.S. nuclear forces, the Pentagon today announced the results of yet another review.

The new review identifies more than 100 fixes that are needed to correct management and personnel issues. The fixes “will cost several billion dollars over the five-year defense spending program in addition to ongoing modernization requirements identified in last year’s budget submission.” The Pentagon says it will “prioritize funding on actions that improve the security and sustainment of the current force, ensures that modernization of the force remains on track, and that address shortfalls, which are undermining the morale of the force.”

That sounds like a strategy doomed to fail without significant adjustments. The Pentagon is already planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on modernizing submarines, bombers, missiles, warheads, and production facilities over the next decade (and even more later).

Those modernization plans are already too expensive, under tremendous fiscal pressure, and competing for money needed to sustain and modernize conventional forces. So who is going to pay for the billions of dollars extra needed to fix the nuclear business?  Continue reading

Pentagon Review To Fix Nuclear Problems – Again

Less than a decade after the Pentagon conducted a major review to fix problems in the nuclear management of U.S. nuclear forces, the Pentagon today announced the results of yet another review.

The new review identifies more than 100 fixes that are needed to correct management and personnel issues. The fixes “will cost several billion dollars over the five-year defense spending program in addition to ongoing modernization requirements identified in last year’s budget submission.” The Pentagon says it will “prioritize funding on actions that improve the security and sustainment of the current force, ensures that modernization of the force remains on track, and that address shortfalls, which are undermining the morale of the force.”

That sounds like a strategy doomed to fail without significant adjustments. The Pentagon is already planning to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on modernizing submarines, bombers, missiles, warheads, and production facilities over the next decade (and even more later).

Those modernization plans are already too expensive, under tremendous fiscal pressure, and competing for money needed to sustain and modernize conventional forces. So who is going to pay for the billions of dollars extra needed to fix the nuclear business?  Continue reading

58 Nobel Laureates Urge Congress to Halt Budget Cuts to Science Research

A group of 58 U.S. Nobel Laureates is urging members of Congress to preserve federal funding of long term scientific research for the 2014 fiscal year budget. Today, President Obama released the FY2014 budget, which is sent to Congress for approval and allocation.  With sequestration cuts to agencies which support scientific research and development including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the United States is at risk of falling behind other countries in the development of science and technology.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) released the letter which was written by Dr. Burton Richter, winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics, and signed by 58 U.S. Nobel Laureates, many of whom serve on FAS’s Board of Sponsors. Dr. Richter writes that “there is a bipartisan agreement on the importance of federal funding of long-term scientific research. The agreement exists because of recognition that this sort of research fuels the innovation engine that is essential to our economy. The entire federal research, development and demonstration enterprise amounts today to about one percent of our Gross Domestic Product and has steadily fallen over the years, while our rivals in Europe and Asia invest more.”

Dr. Richter underscores the importance of long-term scientific funding for future generations, stating that, “we Nobel Laureates are likely to do well in competition for a reduced level of funding. Our concern is for the younger generation who will be behind the innovations and earn the Prizes of the future.”

“The United States has far surpassed other nations in Nobel Prize winners in the sciences. The ability to foster such talent will be undermined with continued erosion of federal support,” said FAS President Charles D. Ferguson. “FAS is proud to circulate this letter on behalf of Dr. Richter and the Nobel Laureates to raise awareness of potential budget cuts to the United States science industry and future generations of scientists.”

Read the article in the New York Times regarding the letter here.

Click here for the PDF version of the letter or see full text below.

April 9, 2013

Dear Members of Congress:

With the delivery of the President’s budget on April 10, Congress will begin the process of allocating funds to all the areas in the Federal Budget. One of those areas is long-term research and development in the agencies that fund the backbone of the U.S. scientific enterprise: National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as parts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense. There is a bipartisan agreement on the importance of federal funding of long-term scientific research. The President emphasized it in his State of the Union speech and Majority Leader Cantor emphasized it in a recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute. The agreement exists because of recognition that this sort of research fuels the innovation engine that is essential to our economy. The entire federal research, development and demonstration enterprise amounts today to about one percent of our Gross Domestic Product and has steadily fallen over the years, while our rivals in Europe and Asia invest more.

We Nobel Laureates are likely to do well in competition for a reduced level of funding. Our concern is for the younger generation who will be behind the innovations and earn the Prizes of the future. We urge you, even in these financially troubled times, to keep the budgets of the agencies that support science at a level that will keep the pipelines full of the younger generation upon whom our economic vitality will rest in future years.

Respectfully,

Dr. Burton Richter

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

1976 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Peter Agre

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

2003 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Sidney Altman

Yale University

1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Kenneth J. Arrow

Stanford University

1972 Nobel Prize in economic science

Dr. David Baltimore

California Institute of Technology

1975 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Bruce Beutler

UT Southwestern Medical Center

2011 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. J. Michael Bishop

University of California, San Francisco

1989 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Gunter Blobel

The Rockefeller University

1999 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Michael Brown

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

1985 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Thomas Cech

University of Colorado Boulder

1989 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Martin Chalfie

Columbia University

2008 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Stanley Cohen

Vanderbilt University

1986 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Leon N. Cooper

Brown University

1972 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. James W. Cronin

Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics

1980 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Robert Curl Jr.

Rice University

1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Johann Deisenhofer

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

1998 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Andrew Fire

Stanford University School of Medicine

2006 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Jerome Friedman

MIT

1990 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Walter Gilbert

Harvard University Professor Emeritus

1980 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Sheldon Lee Glashow

Harvard University

1979 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Roy Glauber

Harvard University

2006 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Carol Greider

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. David J. Gross

University of California, Santa Barbara

2004 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Roger Guillemin

Salk Institute

1977 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. John L. Hall

University of Colorado

2005 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Leland Hartwell

Center for Sustainable Health, Arizona State University

2001 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach

Harvard University

1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Roald Hoffmann

Cornell University

1981 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Louis J. Ignarro

UCLA School of Medicine

1998 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle

MIT

2001 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Brian Kobilka

Stanford University School of Medicine

2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Walter Kohn

University of California, Santa Barbara

1998 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Roger Kornberg

Stanford University School of Medicine

2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Leon Lederman

University of Chicago

1988 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Robert Lefkowitz

Duke University Medical Center

2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Eric Maskin

Harvard University

2007 Nobel Prize in economic science

Dr. John Mather

University of Maryland and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

2006 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Craig Mello

University of Massachusetts Medical School

2006 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Mario Molina

University of California San Diego

1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Dr. Ferid Murad

George Washington University

1998 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Douglas Osheroff

Stanford University

1996 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Martin Perl

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

1995 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Saul Perlmutter

University of California, Berkley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

2011 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. William Phillips

Joint Quantum Institute

1997 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. David Politzer

Caltech

2004 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Adam Riess

Johns Hopkins University

2011 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Richard Roberts

New England Biolabs

1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Brian P. Schmidt

The Australian National University

2011 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Phillip Sharp

Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Hamilton Smith

J. Craig Venter Institute

1978 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. George F. Smoot

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

2006 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Thomas Steitz

Yale University

2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Dr. Steven Weinberg

University of Texas at Austin

1979 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Carl E. Wieman

University of British Columbia

2001 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Eric Wieschaus

Princeton University

1995 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Torsten Wiesel

Rockefeller University

1981 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

Dr. Frank Wilczek

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2004 Nobel Prize in physics

Dr. Robert W. Wilson

Bell Laboratories

1978 Nobel Prize in physics