Strategic Arsenal Slowly Coming Down

The US strategic nuclear arsenal is slowly coming down in size to the New START agreement’s ceilings, according to the latest bilateral exchange of data with Russia on each party’s respective force levels. The United States had 1,737 deployed nuclear warheads, 812 deployed launchers (i.e., heavy bombers, ICBMs, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles), and 1040 total deployed/non-deployed launchers, as of March 1, states the State Department’s newly released fact sheet on the biannual data exchange that the treaty requires. That compares to 1,800 warheads, 882 deployed launchers, and 1,124 deployed/non-deployed launchers that the United States declared as of Feb. 5, 2011, in the first data dump after New START entered force. The treaty requires each party to have no more than 1,550 deployed warheads, 700 deployed launchers, or 800 deployed/non-deployed launchers by February 2018. Initially, the United States is focusing on eliminating deactivated ICBM silos and retired B-52s that still count as part of the arsenal under New START’s counting rules. The Russian arsenal stood at 1,492 warheads, 494 deployed launchers, and 881 deployed/non-deployed launchers, as of March 1, states the fact sheet. (See also aggregate numbers through Sept. 1, 2011.)