U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy and Program

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance
October 6, 2016

   

Demonstrated Longtime Commitment to Reducing the Role of Nuclear Weapons

1991 – U.S. Stockpile: 19,008

(Image of George H.W. Bush and M.G. Gorbachev signing START I)

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the START Treaty, Reciprocal Unilateral Measures and Cooperative Threat Reduction. The 1991 START Treaty between the U.S. and USSR resulted in the removal of 80% of all strategic nuclear weapons at the time.

2002 – U.S. Stockpile: 10,457

The Moscow Treaty between the U.S. and Russia reduced deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1700-2200.

2009 – U.S. Stockpile: 5,113

(Image of Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev shaking hands after signing New START)

At the Prague Speech, President Obama emphasized “reducing the role and number of nuclear weapons” and, in 2010, the New START Treaty with Russia further reduced operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1550.

2013 – U.S. Stockpile: 4,804

President Obama’s Berlin speech invited Russia to join us in additional reductions of up to one third additional operationally deployed strategic weapons.

In 2015, Secretary Kerry announced at the NPT RevCon that we would accelerate dismantlement of warheads retired prior to 2009 – today the U.S. has approximately 2,500 awaiting dismantlement

Footer: In 2015, Secretary Kerry announced at the NPT RevCon that we would accelerate dismantlement of warheads retired prior to 2009 – today that U.S. has approximately 2,500 awaiting dismantlement.

Evolution of the Stockpile

Graph title: Size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile 1945-2015

Graph shows the evolution of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. X-axis displays fiscal years from 1945-2015, while the Y-axis displays number of warheads.

Key years labeled: Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962. Warhead number unlabeled; marker is slightly above 25,000.

Max warheads, approx. 1967. Warhead number labeled 31,255.

Dissolution of Warsaw Pact, 1991. Warhead number unlabeled; marker is about 22,000.

USSR disbands, 1991. Warhead number unlabeled; marker is about 16,000.

End of FY 2015, 2015. Warhead number 4,571.

Footer: The United States remains committed to fulfilling our commitments under Article VI of the NPT, and to create the conditions for the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

From the Cold War to Today – Fewer Nuclear Weapons & Fewer Nuclear Weapon Types

Graph shows a number of weapons silhouettes, mapped across dates on the X-axis and amounts on the Y-axis. Weapons are shown at date of stockpile entry, with model number shown under silhouettes. Silhouettes are color coded, with red signifying a weapon no longer in the stockpile; yellow signifying a weapon being phased out; and green signifying a weapon that is classified as a future deterrent. There are approximately 70 weapons color coded as red, concentrated primarily in the 40s through 70s. There are nine weapons color coded as red, spanning from the late 70s to the late 90s. There are six weapons color coded as green, with one type entering the stockpile in the late 70s, two entering the stockpile in the late 80s, and three entering the stockpile in the 2000s.

3+2 strategy

Graph shows three columns, moving along an X-axis titled “future” on the right side; X-axis is color coded to move from yellow to green. Yellow is presumably used to signify the past and/or present, while green clearly signifies the future.

Column one has a yellow text box at the top reading “Seven bomb and cruise missile warheads.” It visually consolidates the warheads into two groups, using an arrow pointing from the first group (consisting of seven warheads) to the second (consisting of two warheads). The seven bomb and cruise missile warhead types that are grouped together are W80-1, B61-3, B61-4, B61-7, B61-10, B61-11, and B-83-1. Green text box at the bottom reads “consolidate to two warheads” in green. The two consolidated warhead types resemble the W80-1 and B61-11. This is meant to convey that the 3+2 plan will consolidate seven bomb and cruise missile warhead types into two types.

Column two has a yellow text box at the top reading “5 ballistic missile warheads.” It visually consolidates the warheads into two groups, using an arrow pointing from the first group (consisting of five ballistic missile warheads) to the second group (consisting of three ballistic missile warheads). The five ballistic warheads that are grouped together are Mk4 W76-0, MK4A W75-1, Mk5 W88, Mk12A W78, and Mk21 W87. Green text box at the bottom reads “consolidate to three interoperable warheads.”

Column three has a green text box at the top reading “consolidate to five warhead designs.” Below that, a diagram displays a box split into three parts and labeled “nuclear stockpile.” The first part is white and contains three downward-facing arrows. The second part is below the first and is approximately the same size. It reads “hedge” against a light purple background. The third part is at the bottom and is larger than the other two, reading “deployed.” An arrow runs from first section to the second green text box in the column, which is located at the bottom of the column. The text box reads “With interoperability up to 50% potential hedge reduction.”

U.S. Nuclear Security Infrastructure – Reducing the Footprint

This slide is comprised of a color coded table displaying current and prior nuclear security sites. Existing sites are outlined in black, with laboratories color coded yellow; existing laboratories are Los Alamos, Sandia, and Livermore. Existing plants are color coded blue; existing plants are Oak Ridge Y-12, Savannah River, Kansas City, and Pantex. Existing sites are color coded brown; the only existing site is Nevada.

Closed or retired sites are color coded grey; closed or retired sites are Hanford, Inyokern, Burlington, Dayton, Albuquerque, Picatinny, Oak Ridge S-50, Fernald, Medina, Portsmouth, Weldon Spring, Clarksville, Paducah, Oak Ridge K-25, Mound, Pinellas, Rocky Flats, Scioto, Rock Island, and Newsport.

The Five Objectives of the Nuclear Posture Review

  • Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Terrorism
  • Reducing the role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons
  • Maintaining Strategic Deterrence and Stability at Reduced Nuclear Force Levels
  • Strengthening Regional Deterrence and Reassuring U.S. Allies and Partners
  • Sustaining a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Arsenal

An image on the right is a picture of a report titled “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” April 2010. The report bears the seal of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Nuclear Terrorism

  • Bolster the nuclear nonproliferation regime by negotiating JCPOA and strengthening IAEA safeguards.
  • Establish Nuclear Security Summit Process to draw high level political focus on nuclear and radiological security.
    • Remove and secure vulnerable nuclear material --enough for 150 nuclear weapons
    • Detect and interdict smuggled nuclear materials
    • Strengthen nuclear forensics efforts
  • Cooperation is founded on the capabilities of the NNSA nuclear security enterprise.

An image above the text shows a picture of the UN General Assembly hall with the following text superimposed over it: “…we must ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. This is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security." --President Obama

Reducing the Role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons

  • U.S. intent is to pursue one-third reduction in deployed strategic nuclear weapons from the level established in the New START Treaty so that we can continue to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.
  • These reductions are possible in part because the 2013 employment guidance aligns U.S. nuclear plans to focus on only those objectives and missions necessary for deterrence in the 21stcentury security environment.
  • The guidance takes further steps toward reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy, moving further away from nuclear postures that are not suited to contemporary and emerging threats.

Maintaining Strategic Deterrence and Stability at Reduced Nuclear Force Levels

Nuclear Posture Review:

  • “Large disparities in nuclear capabilities…may not be conducive to maintaining a stable, long-term strategic relationship, especially as nuclear forces are significantly reduced. Therefore, we will place importance on Russia joining us as we move to lower levels.”

Employment Guidance:

  • U.S. will maintain a nuclear Triad (ICBMs, SLBMs nuclear-capable heavy bombers).
  • Retaining all three Triad legs will best maintain strategic stability at a reasonable cost, while hedging against political technical problems or vulnerabilities.
  • These forces should maintain strategic stability with Russia and China, deter potential regional adversaries, and assure U.S. allies and partners.
  • NNSA is in the process of updating and right-sizing its facilities to create a truly responsive nuclear infrastructure
  • Life Extension Programs (LEP) enable further reduction:
    • W76-1 LEP will, when completed in 2019, allow significant stockpile reductions.
    • Delivery of the B61-12 First Production Unit will lead to the retirement of the last megaton weapon, the B83 gravity bomb.

Strengthening Regional Deterrence and Reassurance of U.S. Allies and Partners

  • The United States is committed to working with allies and partners to strengthen regional deterrence.
    • Continue to enhance conventional capabilities, field regional missile defenses, and improve counter-WMD capabilities.
    • Provide assurance to allies and partners of our commitment to their security.
    • Retain a nuclear component in key regional security architectures as long as nuclear threats to U.S. forces and allies remain.
    • Continue close consultations with allies and partners to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of the U.S. extended deterrent.

Sustaining a Safe, Secure, and Effective Stockpile

U.S. stockpile management principles:

  • No nuclear-explosive testing –maintain the stockpile with a science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP).
  • Sustain the Stockpile
    • No new nuclear warheads. LEPs will only use nuclear components based on previously tested designs and will not support new military missions or provide for new military capabilities.
  • Annual assessment process assures a credible deterrent.

Science Based Stockpile Stewardship

Slide has six pictures with labels.

The first picture is of a block of servers, and the caption reads “Computing & Information Sciences.” It is partially overlaid by a circular picture of binary code.

The second picture is of a computer model, and the caption reads “Engineering Sciences.”

The third picture is of a person wearing protective clothing in a clean room, and the caption reads “high energy density science.”

The fourth picture is of unidentified micro-organisms, and reads “bioscience.”

The fifth picture is of a microscopic computer model, and reads “materials sciences.”

The sixth picture is of a computer model, and reads “geoscience.”

SSP Science Advancements Support Other Missions

Slide has two pictures with information next to them. This slide provides more information on the “Science Based Stockpile Stewardship” topics introduced on slide fourteen.

The first picture is of a block of servers with a circular picture of binary code partially overlaying it. It is next to a block of text that reads:

Computing & Information Services

  • Cosmology
  • Climate Monitoring
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Precision Medicine

The second picture is of a person wearing protective clothing in a clean room. It is next to a block of text that reads:

High Energy Density Science

  • National Ignition Facility (NIF)
  • Precision Optics

Slide has two pictures with information next to them. This slide provides more information on the “Science Based Stockpile Stewardship” topics introduced on slide fourteen.

The first picture is of a microscopic computer model. It is next to a block of text that reads:

Materials Sciences

  • Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy: ChemCam Laser Unit on Mars Curiosity Rover
  • Nuclear Fuel

The second picture is of a computer model. It is next to a block of text that reads:

Engineering Sciences

  • Design Blades for Wind Turbines
  • Designing Aerodynamic Large Trucks

Slide has two pictures with information next to them. This slide provides more information on the “Science Based Stockpile Stewardship” topics introduced on slide fourteen.

The first picture is of unidentified micro-organisms. It is next to a block of text that reads:

Biosciences

  • Human Genome Project
  • Human Health

The second picture is of a computer model. It is next to a block of text that reads:

Geo Sciences

  • Modeling Global Water Temperatures
  • Measure Wind Farm Effectiveness

Sharing Science with Our Partners

Slide has two pictures: one of DARHT at LANL, and one of an NNSS visit in 2015. Both pictures have people gathered around looking at demonstrations.

Text is a quote from Dr. Lassina Zerbo from November 2015, and reads “It is a sobering thing to visit a place where so many nuclear explosions were conducted, and I appreciate this tremendous opportunity. I applaud the United States for foregoing nuclear explosive testing for over 23 years and I hope that will continue, along with the U.S. support for our efforts to make a global ban on nuclear explosions the international norm. I was greatly impressed by what I saw in Nevada, and it has given me a renewed motivation to make nuclear explosions a thing of the past for all nations.”

Demonstrated Longtime Commitment to Reducing the Role of Nuclear Weapons

  • In the early 1990s the United States and Russia took steps to reduce weapons through the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives
  • George W. Bush Administration continued trend by negotiating the Moscow Treaty – limited U.S. and Russian stockpiles to 1700-2200 deployed strategic nuclear warheads.
  • President Obama’s Prague Agenda 2009-present featured new U.S. policies and initiatives to maintain a credible deterrent, strengthen nonproliferation efforts, and prevent nuclear terrorism.

Footer reads “The US will continue to help shape the nonproliferation environment”

Origins of Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship and the U.S. Commitment to CTBT

From the first nuclear test in New Mexico in 945 to the last in Nevada in 1992, the United States conducted more than 1,000 explosive tests.

Below this text are four captioned pictures.

The first picture is of large machinery, and is captioned “Early 1990s – International calls for an end to nuclear explosive testing helped establish the global norm against this practice.”

The second picture is of the U.S. Capitol building, as is captioned “1992 – U.S. Congress enacted a 9-month testing moratorium.”

The third picture is of U.S. President Bill Clinton, and is captioned “1996 – The United States became the first nation to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.”

The fourth picture is of U.S. President Barack Obama, and is captioned “2016 – U.S. moratorium on nuclear explosive testing in place for 24 years.”

There are two columns, titled “20 Years Ago” and “Present Day.” The first column reads:

20 Years Ago

  • Great skepticism about ratifying the Treaty due to concerns regarding maintaining the stockpile and verification
  • No ability to verify the Treaty
  • Challenges seen in transition from testing and building new nuclear weapons to reducing the number and maintaining fewer weapons without nuclear testing
  • Nothing to guarantee the success of the Stockpile Stewardship Program

The second column reads:

Present Day

  • After 20 years of the Stockpile Stewardship Program and advances in monitoring technologies, we are confident we can both maintain the stockpile and verify the Treaty
  • Proven that science can support a zero-yield testing environment and allow significant stockpile reductions
  • Development of high performing computers
  • Established an effective verification and monitoring regime