President Obama's stunning disclosure puts pressure on Russia to
reciprocate. But Moscow relies much more heavily on its nuclear
weapons arsenal for security and regional power.
Barack Obama has just spilled the exact number of nuclear weapons
the United States deploys around the world - for decades a closely
Russian security analysts say they're impressed with President
Obama's disclosure, which puts pressure on Moscow to reciprocate.
But don't hold your breath waiting for a Russian response. Because
Moscow relies much more heavily on its nuclear arsenal for security
and regional influence than the US does, a dramatic announcement is
unlikely, analysts in Russia say.
"It's a big PR victory for Obama, and a very strong signal that
his talk of a nuclear-weapons-free world is not just empty
rhetoric," says Alexander Konovalov, president of the independent
Institute for Strategic Assessments in Moscow. "But for Russia it's
not so easy to match this step, due to differences in our security
doctrine and the role of nuclear weapons in our defenses."
FAS calls on Russia to reciprocate
Ahead of the opening of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review
Conference in New York, the Obama administration revealed a US
nuclear stockpile of 5,113 nuclear warheads as of September 2009.
That includes all active weapons, both strategic and tactical, but
not "several thousand" more that are awaiting dismantlement under
arms control accords.
The Federation of American Scientists, which has been producing
the best estimates of global nuclear arsenals from public sources
for the past 30 years, noted proudly in a statement Tuesday that the
Pentagon's official count is just 13 bombs off its own latest guess,
and added that the US move "ends years of unnecessary and
counterproductive secrecy" about atomic arms.
"Disclosing the size of the US nuclear weapons stockpile puts
pressure on other nuclear-weapon states to reciprocate," the group
says. "Russia, whose arsenal is more difficult to track and assess,
should respond by divulging comparable information about the size
and status of its nuclear stockpile."
The organization estimates that Russia currently deploys around
2,600 strategic nuclear warheads and 2,050 tactical ones. The exact
number of strategic weapons - those with intercontinental
capability, based missiles, submarines or bombers - would have been
provided to the US in the course of negotiations for the recently
signed START accord.
"Tactical" nuclear warheads usually have a smaller explosive
yield than "strategic" ones and are typically mounted on missiles
with a range of about 300 miles or less.
New Russian doctrine lowers threshold for using nukes
Russian analysts insist that the numbers of tactical weapons in
Moscow's arsenal will not be so easy to estimate, or to divulge. …