NBC Weapons: Secret Numbers Are Secret No More

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NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS

May 30, 2010: Britain has joined the United States and France in revealing the size of its nuclear arsenal. Britain has 225 nuclear warheads. Earlier France admitted that it had less than 300 (about the same number China is believed to possess). On May 3rd, the U.S. revealed, for the first time, how many nuclear warheads it has (5,113). This is way down from its Cold War peak (in 1967) of 31,225. In 1993, the U.S. revealed past stockpile numbers (up through 1991). But never before have current numbers been made public.

At the end of the Cold War, the U.S. still had over 20,000 warheads. Since 1945, the U.S. has built over 70,000 nuclear warheads. Only 1,054 were detonated, all but two of them in tests. Detonations ceased, because of a treaty, in 1992.

Recently, after nearly a year of negotiations, Russian and the United States diplomats agreed on new terms to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired at the end of 2009. START limits the number of nuclear weapons each nation has. The 1991 treaty allowed each nation to have 2,200 nuclear weapons, while the 2010 treaty reduces this to 1,550 warheads. At the height of the Cold War, each nation had over 20,000 warheads. Most of those have since been demilitarized, and their nuclear material recycled as power plant fuel.

 

 


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