Nuclear Disclosure

The United Kingdom has disclosed that its nuclear stockpile is about 225 warheads. This doesn’t come as any surprise, considering that the NPT review at the UN just ended and that about a month ago, the United States and Russia have also stated the number of warheads in their possession. There has been a movement towards greater transparency about nuclear weapons. For example, the New START agreement between the former Cold War antagonists seeks to set the number of strategically deployable weapons to 1,550 for both the United States and Russia .

Even though there has been a movement towards disclosure, one of the main impediments is political will. It is not easy to reverse decades of suspicion and competition and neither is it recommended from a realist standpoint to lower one’s guard. Nuclear weapons have a strong deterrent capability and it is understandable that neither country wants to reduce the amount of this deterrent to a greater extent than the other, even though it is unlikely that both countries would go to war and make these capabilities relevant. No country is comfortable going at it alone, which makes sense that the UK only disclosed its arsenal after the two largest nuclear powers disclosed theirs.

The United States’ Nuclear Posture Review for 2010 mentions that “a world without nuclear weapons will not be achieved quickly but we must begin to take concrete steps today.” In the end, why should nations possess the power to destroy each other ten times over?

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