Nuclear Weapons

The Cold War is over, but the United States and Russia still keep thousands of nuclear weapons on alert and in reserve. Understand the issues with our technical and political analysis.


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Latest Nuclear Weapons Posts

Cuts to the Fissile Materials Stockpile

, analyst

The Final Countdown

The United States maintains stockpiles of weapons-usable fissile materials—plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU)—that are much larger than needed. This material is a security risk, and is also expensive to store safely. Some of this fissile material has already been declared “excess to military needs” and is awaiting disposition. Even after that excess material is disposed of, however, the United States will still have far more material than it needs for its current or future arsenal. President Obama should declare additional material excess and schedule it for disposition as soon as possible. If done correctly, this would reduce opportunities for nuclear terrorism. It would also be a step toward making nuclear reductions more difficult to reverse.

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Cuts to the Hedge

, analyst

It’s Now or Never

One of the things President Obama could still do before leaving office is to cut the “hedge” force. These are nuclear weapons that the United States keeps in reserve for two reasons: technical and geopolitical. The argument for the technical hedge is that, if deployed weapons of one type experienced a problem, the U.S. could instead deploy weapons of another type from the hedge force. The geopolitical argument is that the international security situation could change, leading the United States to want to increase the number of deployed weapons. Read more >

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President Obama Can Still Reduce Stored Nuclear Weapons & Fissile Materials

, analyst

It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over

During the summer and fall, reports appeared that President Obama was considering actions he could take to make a major impact on U.S. nuclear weapons policy before leaving office in January. While the situation has clearly changed since Trump became the president-elect, this still does not mean that Obama’s hands are completely tied. Read more >

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Money Problems for Minuteman Replacement

, analyst

Cost estimates of the plan to replace the U.S nuclear stockpile continue to increase on several fronts. The latest Arms Control Today reports that the cost of the replacement for the Minuteman III (MMIII) missile, called the ground-based strategic deterrent (GBSD), may rise to $100 billion or more.

The article cites an “informed source” who says that this brings the total cost to acquire, operate, and sustain the system over its expected 50-year life span to $238 billion.

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Another knock against MOX

, Washington representative and senior analyst

The MOX program has been staggering along for years, struggling for survival. Today’s news, that Russia is suspending the joint U.S.-Russian agreement to dispose of excess plutonium, should be the final blow that finishes this risky boondoggle off. It removes the sole remaining justification for the program, which was that only if the United States pursued MOX would Russia dispose of its plutonium. Read more >

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