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Being Transparent

May 17, 2010—The Obama Administration on May 13, 2010, submitted the new START treaty to the Senate. President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had signed the new START treaty April 8, 2010. In the interim, the Obama Administration had taken the unprecedented step of releasing the number of nuclear warheads comprising the US nuclear weapons stockpile—5,113 as of Sept. 30, 2009. As we reported earlier in the Daily Report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the UN before the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference that day, May 3, 2010, presented the release of the number as a sign that the US would "do its part on disarmament." During a press availability after her remarks, Clinton maintained that "most experts already know" the number, and the Administration does not believe "sharing it with the public is in any way in opposition to our national security." She continued: "We are attempting to make progress toward a world without nuclear weapons in a clear-eyed, practical, realistic way consistent with our security, and we think releasing this information furthers that goal."

The chart below, released by the Pentagon May 3, 2010, shows the number of warheads in the nuclear stockpile from 1945 to 2009. In early April with release of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Administration said the US would develop no new nuclear weapons. In a background briefing May 3 at the Pentagon, a senior defense official said: "What we've said in the past, including in the NPR, was that after ratification and entry into force of new START, we'll pursue reductions not just in strategic weapons, but in strategic and non- strategic, deployed and non-deployed; in other words, in the stockpile. And so, all for nonproliferation and arms control reasons, we want to release these numbers, and we think the United States has set an example of transparency that will be very helpful as we go forward." 

In submitting the new treaty to the Senate, President Obama noted in his transmittal letter: "The Treaty preserves our ability to determine for ourselves the composition and structure of our strategic forces within the Treaty's overall limits, and to modernize those forces. The Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development, or deployment of current or planned US missile defense programs or current or planned US long-range conventional strike capabilities."

Clinton speech

Clinton press availability transcript

White House news release on sending START treaty to Senate

President Obama transmittal letter

Pentagon May 3, 2010, background briefing transcript

Pentagon May 3, 2010, fact sheet