The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: Disarmament Pillar


Date: 02/26/2015 Description: Final U.S. Peacekeeper Missile Silo destroyed (2015) © Air Force Photo Date: 06/19/2013 Description: President Barack Obama, accompanied by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, waves to the crowd after speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Obama called to reduce the world's nuclear stockpiles, including a proposed one-third reduction in U.S. and Russian arsenals. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) © AP Image Date: 2013 Description: The ''Megatons to Megawatts'' Program is Completed - State Dept Image

“Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons.” – President Barack Obama


The 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime and the basis for international cooperation to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

For nearly half a century, the three mutually reinforcing “pillars” of the treaty – nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy – have provided a strong foundation for cooperation to reduce global nuclear dangers and contributed profoundly to international security.

The United States is committed to seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. Since the NPT entered into force, the United States has made significant progress towards disarmament – actively reducing the total U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and limiting the role of nuclear weapons.


At the height of the Cold War, the United States possessed 31,255 nuclear warheads, as shown on the graph to the right. Following years of committed, persistent progress, our stockpile as of 2014 stood at 4,717 active and inactive warheads – a reduction of 85 percent. Additionally, from October 1993 through September 2014, the United States dismantled 10,251 nuclear warheads. In 2015, the United States reported that approximately 2,500 nuclear warheads are retired and awaiting dismantlement.

Date: 2014 Description: U.S. Nuclear Stockpile Levels by Fiscal Year from 1945 to 2014 - State Dept Image
We continue to reduce the numbers and role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy. We are successfully implementing the New START Treaty with Russia that will reduce strategic nuclear forces to their lowest levels in more than fifty years. As of March 1, 2015, the United States had 1597 deployed strategic warheads under the New START Treaty.

Decades ago the United States ended nuclear explosive testing and the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons, and has removed 374 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and 61.5 metric tons of plutonium from use in nuclear weapons.

Taken together, these removals account for enough nuclear material for more than 22,000 nuclear weapons. The United States has transformed its nuclear complex toward science-based stewardship of this shrinking stockpile and eliminated whole classes of nuclear weapons.

Future Reductions

Date: 2015 Description: Shipment of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) removed by the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration. © National Nuclear Security Administration

Against the backdrop of this historic progress, U.S. disarmament efforts continue. President Obama made clear in Berlin in 2013 that we can ensure the security of America and our allies while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third below the level established in the New START Treaty. The United States stands ready to negotiate further cuts with Russia, and to work with our NATO allies to seek bold reductions in U.S. and Russian tactical weapons in Europe.

Decades of efforts have taught us that there is no viable alternative to practical, responsible and verifiable step-by-step disarmament. There are no short cuts to lasting progress. The United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the NPT’s disarmament pillar. The United States announced in 2015 that President Obama will seek funding to accelerate dismantlement of retired U.S. nuclear warheads by 20 percent.

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