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1 Pavel Podvig, Practical Steps towards Transparency of Nuclear Arsenals 1 (2012)

handle is hein.unl/stenuar0001 and id is 1 raw text is: Practical Steps towards Transparency
of Nuclear Arsenals
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Pavel Podvig
WMD Programme Lead, UNIDIR

Nuclear disarmament is one the key elements of the nuclear non-proliferation
regime established by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Article VI of
the Treaty explicitly commits all states to pursue negotiations in good faith on
effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date
and to nuclear disarmament. The number of nuclear weapons has indeed been
dramatically reduced-it was estimated that in 2010 all nuclear-weapon states
had about 18,000 nuclear warheads in their arsenals, down from the peak of
about 70,000 in 1986.1 It is clear, however, that nuclear arsenals can be reduced
even further.
The 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan reinforced the obligation of article
VI of the NPT by asking all nuclear-weapon states to undertake further efforts to
reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons.2 The Action Plan
identified transparency and accountability as an important part of the nuclear
disarmament process and encouraged the nuclear-weapon states to agree as
soon as possible on a standard reporting form and to determine appropriate
reporting intervals for the purpose of voluntarily providing standard information.3
Providing information about nuclear arsenals would be an important confidence-
building measure that would help advance the cause of nuclear disarmament,
strengthen global and regional stability, and create conditions for bringing all
nuclear-weapon states in the disarmament process.
As of 2012, the only nuclear-weapon states that have an obligation to provide
information about their nuclear forces are Russia and the United States, which
exchange data as part of the New START agreement, which entered into force
in February 2011. States with smaller nuclear arsenals are reluctant to provide
detailed information about their nuclear holdings, arguing that since the two
largest nuclear powers still hold about 95% of all nuclear weapons they would
have to undertake very deep reductions before transparency can be established
as a universal norm. Only two other states-France and the United Kingdom-
1  Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945-2010,
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, vol. 66, no. 4, 2010, pp. 77-83.
2  Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, document NPT/CONF.2010/50 (vol. I), 4 June 2010, § I.B.iv,
action 3.
3  Ibid., § I.F.i, action 21.

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