Oct 3, 2007

U.S. reports 'astounding' reduction in its nuclear arsenal

Amid word of a North Korea deal and presidential warnings about a nuclear-armed Iran comes this under-the-radar item from Washington:

The National Nuclear Security Administration reports "an astounding 146 percent increase" from 2006 in atomic bombs and warheads that were dismantled in Fiscal Year 2007, which ended Sept. 30. The agency's goal was a "49% increase."

Impressive numbers. Trouble is, the NNSA's press release does not note the actual number of weapons that were dismantled. Why? It's classified, which makes it hard to evaluate the claims and progress.

Three years ago President Bush set a goal of reducing the nation's stockpile 50% by 2012.

An NPR report in June looked at the dismantling program, including frustration around its secrecy, which dates to the 1990s. One estimate puts the U.S. nuclear arsenal at 10,000 weapons (pdf). AP (which reported the dismantling news Sunday) says 6,000.

NNSA did say "Last year, NNSA permanently dismantled the last W56-type nuclear weapon in the U.S. stockpile. Currently, NNSA is dismantling W62 and the B61 modifications 3 and 4, which will continue for several years."

Read more about the U.S. arsenal here, here and here. The National Resource Defense Council has an archive of materials relating to stockpiles, forces and testing.

The idea that the unthinkable might become reality still gives many people the willies.

Today, at a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, a U.S. doctor presented research claiming that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could cause one billion people to starve to death around the world, and hundreds of millions more to die from disease and conflicts over food, the New Scientist writes.

"A limited nuclear war taking place far away poses a threat that should concern everyone on the planet," Dr. Ira Helfand, co-founder of the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility, told the magazine. "It is appropriate, given the data, to be frightened."

Helfand, an emergency-room doctor in Northampton, Mass., mapped out the global consequences of India and Pakistan exploding 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear warheads.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does it matter that Russia has its cold war arsenal and is rapidly developing better delivery systems? Lets not think about that.