The State Department released newly declassified information Tuesday about the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, reversing the position it took under former President Donald Trump.
The total number of nuclear weapons in active status and in long-term storage was 3,750 as of September 2020, the department said in a press release. The number is a roughly 88% reduction compared to its maximum of 31,255 warheads in 1967 and a roughly 83% reduction compared to 22,217 warheads near the end of the Cold War in 1989.
The U.S. dismantled 11,683 warheads between 1994 and 2020, including 711 warheads since 2017, according to a State Department fact sheet. Around 2,000 additional warheads are retired and waiting to be dismantled.
1/3 – The Biden administration has declassified US stockpile numbers:
As of September 2020, the US nuclear weapons stockpile included 3,750 warheads. Another 2,000 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement. https://t.co/gRvDvHhYyJ pic.twitter.com/QRrw4BC1CS
— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) October 5, 2021
The State Department said increasing transparency about the nuclear stockpile “is important to nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.” The U.S. is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a multilateral effort to eliminate nuclear weapons in the long-term.
The U.S. last released stockpile numbers in March 2018, according to The Associated Press (AP). But the Trump administration kept updated numbers a secret and reportedly denied a request from the Federation of American Scientists to declassify them.
President Joe Biden ordered a nuclear weapons posture and policy review in September that could be completed early next year, according to an Arms Control Association report. The Biden administration’s review is expected to call for a reduction in nuclear weapons but raise concerns about deterrence in the face of a more assertive nuclear posture from Russia and China. (RELATED: One Month To Go Before Iran Has Enough Fuel For Nuclear Weapon, Inspection Group Warns)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken enunciated the president’s position on nuclear weapons reduction at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, The AP reported.
“President Biden has made it clear: the U.S. has a national security imperative and a moral responsibility to reduce and eventually eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction,” he said.