Saturday, May 24, 2014

Nuclear weapons update...


Following the signature of the New START Treaty between Russia and the United States, the Obama administration trumpeted the 'achievement' and hyped the 'reductions' in nuclear weapons...

My March 28th, 2010 blog entry 'Yawn' noted at the time:

  • As others have pointed out (e.g. here and here) the cuts are somewhat more modest than the numbers touted (a 30% reduction in deployed strategic warheads, an over 50% reduction in strategic nuclear delivery vehicles), due to current force levels and the way things are counted...
  • The new agreement continues the practice of only limiting "deployed" warheads and also delivery vehicles (missiles, nuclear bombers), but says nothing about other elements of the nuclear stockpile (e.g. warheads in reserve, those awaiting dismantlement, non-strategic nukes, etc.) In fact the agreement appears to say nothing about the need to actually eliminate any warheads.
  • While the point above may be well understood by 'those in the know', given the (predictably) shoddy coverage provided by the mainstream media the vast majority of U.S. citizens could be forgiven for thinking that the two countries are making big reductions in their nuclear arsenals and/or that the U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles will be shrinking to 1,550 warheads... as opposed to possibly staying at their current , significantly higher levels

"... After a transparency hiatus of four years, the Obama administration has declassified the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile: 4,804 warheads as of September 2013. The new stockpile size is 309 warheads fewer than the 5,113 warheads that the administration in 2010 reported were in the stockpile as of September 2009...  

Yet only 309 warheads fewer in four years! Not exactly the “dramatic” reductions promised by Barack Obama during the 2008 election campaign... In fact, the numbers demonstrate one, for the Obama administration, uncomfortable fact: it has yet to make a noticeable dent in the stockpile. Big stockpile reductions over the past 30 years have all happened during Republican presidents (see table above). Although the Clinton administration dismantled over 11,000 retired nuclear warheads, it did not make significant reductions in the remaining stockpile or the number of warheads deployed on launchers. After the W Bush administration cut the stockpile nearly in half and offloaded more than half of the warheads deployed on strategic launchers, the Obama administration’s policies so far have had only a modest effect on the size of the stockpile and the number of warheads deployed on strategic launchers..."

Fun with numbers!

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