The Obama administration for the first time made public the extent of the U.S.’s atomic weapons arsenal.
UNITED NATIONS — The Obama administration for the first time made public the extent of the U.S.’s atomic weapons arsenal, as the U.S. and Iran dueled for the international backing of their strategic agendas.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both addressed a special U.N. conference on the global nuclear nonproliferation regime Monday as Washington pushes for a new round of sanctions against Iran for its nuclear work.
Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Ahmadinejad sought to define the other nation’s nuclear capability as the principal threat to international stability. The Iranian president charged Washington with leading a skewed international system that seeks to deny peaceful nuclear power to developing nations while allowing allies such as Israel to stockpile atomic arms.
“The first atomic weapons were produced and used by the United States,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a 35-minute morning speech laced with religious imagery and idioms. “This seemed … to provide the United States and its allies with the upper hand. However, it became the main source of the development and spread of nuclear weapons.”
Mrs. Clinton followed in the afternoon by declaring, to the surprise of some delegates, that the U.S. was announcing the size of its nuclear arsenal, as well as the number of atomic weapons it has destroyed from its arsenal; the Pentagon announced the figures in a news conference on Monday.
U.S. officials have been working for almost a year to undercut Tehran’s charges about Washington’s nuclear threat by bringing both transparency to the U.S. program as well as by reducing its numbers. In April, the U.S. and Russia signed a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that lowers the numbers of deployed American and Russian nuclear weapons to their lowest levels since the 1950s. The U.S. also hosted a nuclear security conference in Washington last month.
“So for those who doubt that the U.S. will do its part on disarmament: This is our record—these are our commitments—and they send a clear signal.” Mrs. Clinton told the conference.
The Pentagon said the U.S. had a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile as of Sept. 30, plus a few thousand more that had been retired but still needed to be dismantled. Between fiscal years 1994 and 2009, the U.S. dismanted 8,748 nuclear warheads. At its peak at the end of fiscal year 1967, the U.S. had 31,255 warheads, the Pentagon said.
It was the first time the U.S. has disclosed those figures, which had been previously regarded as highly classified. A senior defense official said at a Pentagon briefing that the stockpile had been reduced by 75% since 1989 and roughly 84% since 1967.
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Source: The Wall Street Journal
Photo: United Nations