A Call for Transparency of the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile Number

The United States government has long held the practice of publicly providing an annual count of the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. nuclear stockpile or the number of weapons that had been dismantled.  While there were occasional “pauses” in this practice, it continued through the Obama administration and as recent as 2017. However, this transparency action ceased in 2018 and the government has not declassified nor disclosed the stockpile and dismantlement numbers for 2018, 2019, or 2020.  In response to this change, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) recently submitted a request for this data from the Department of Energy

The FAS cited President Biden’s February 4 National Security Memorandum “Memorandum on Revitalizing America’s Foreign Policy and National Security Workforce, Institutions and Partnerships.”

In this National Security Memorandum to all federal agencies, the President outlined a series of principles at the core of the Administration’s commitment to revitalizing our national security and foreign policy workforce and institutions.  Among these principles is a recommitment to the highest standards of transparency.

The PIDB fully supports the declassification and release of U.S. nuclear stockpile figures and the number of dismantled weapons and agrees that this information should be declassified and publicly released yearly. This information is important for our citizens to participate more fully in the democratic process, to hold the government accountable for its actions, and to support the study of U.S. nuclear policies and practices. The PIDB encourages the Department of Energy to complete a prompt review and then release this data to the public.

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