Report Urges U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile and Posture Overhaul

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release: November 8, 2007
Press Contacts: Sidney D. Drell, (650) 926-2664; James E. Goodby, (650) 725-8560; and Daryl G. Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.): The independent Arms Control Association (ACA) today released a report that concludes ambitious nuclear weapons reductions by the United States would help lessen distrust with Russia and aid global efforts to curb the spread of nuclear arms. Such cuts could be implemented without imperiling U.S. security, argue the report’s authors, who recommend a total U.S. force of 1,000 nuclear warheads in 2012. Current U.S. plans envision at that time a stockpile between 5,000 to 6,000 nuclear warheads. Drell and Goodby also say that “each of the dejure and de facto nuclear-weapon states will have to be involved in some fashion in the effort to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in international security relations.”

The report, What Are Nuclear Weapons For? Recommendations for Restructuring U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces, is a revised and updated version of the original 2005 edition. Stanford physicist Sidney D. Drell and Ambassador James E. Goodby co-wrote the initial report and updated it.

“The conclusions and recommendations of this report have grown in importance due to developments since its initial release,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the association, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization.

Kimball pointed to souring relations and escalating tensions between the United States and Russia as a key factor meriting a fresh look at the report. Moscow charges the United States is seeking to gain strategic superiority by deploying to Europe what could be the first of many strategic anti-missile interceptors capable of countering Russian ballistic missiles. Russian concerns are further aggravated by the fact that the Bush administration is opposed to codifying lower nuclear force levels in a successor arrangement to the 1991 START nuclear reductions accord, which is set to expire December 5, 2009.

Drell and Goodby argue in the updated report for a different course than that of the Bush administration. “Given the up-and-down history of the U.S.-Russian relationship, it would be prudent to pursue further verifiable reductions in operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads and delivery systems through new legally binding arrangements,” they state. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees with this approach, declaring recently that he hoped “the [Bush] administration will ultimately abandon anxieties about legally binding commitments.”

Drell and Goodby maintain that keeping thousands of nuclear warheads serves no useful purpose, contending “yesterday’s [nuclear] doctrines are no longer appropriate for today’s realities.” Accordingly, they urge adjusting the nuclear stockpile and its attendant doctrines “to minimize the salience of nuclear weapons and to ensure that they are truly weapons of last choice.” Echoing a call early this year by former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Senator Sam Nunn, and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, the ACA report authors declare, “a world without nuclear weapons should be the ultimate goal.”

The full report is online at <>

More information on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces and negotiations can be found at <>.