As you all might know, I have been traveling quite a bit lately and was just recently in the Czech Republic for a conference on the Prague Agenda. I reminded people at that conference that when President Obama laid out his vision for the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons, he made it clear that it was not a desirable, but unattainable dream. The Prague Agenda is an achievable long-term goal and one worth fighting for. I will say here what I said in Prague. There should be no doubt: the U.S. commitment to achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons is unassailable. We continue to pursue nuclear disarmament and we will keep faith with our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitments, prominent among them, Article VI. Our responsible approach to disarmament has borne fruit in the form of major reductions in nuclear weapons, fissile material stocks and infrastructure. These efforts have led us to reduce our nuclear arsenal by approximately 85% from its Cold War heights. In real numbers, that means we have gone from 31,255 nuclear weapons in our active stockpile in 1967 to 4,804 in 2013. We know we still have more work to do.According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which is put out by the Federation of American Scientists, Russia has about the same number of active weapons now as the US, and both countries have several thousand more warheads awaiting deactivation. Though due to security concerns governments are reluctant to divulge exact numbers, most of the older nuclear powers (US, Russia, the UK and France) stockpiles have been gradually declining. Israel, never publicly acknowledging its possession of nuclear weapons, is believed to be holding steady on its stockpile. China, India and Pakistan are all still believed to be gradually increasing their numbers. The exact status of North Korea's nuclear program and stockpile of weapons remains unknown.
Not only is China's stockpile of nuclear weapons believed to still be on the increase, but this week the Washington Free Beacon reported that China is continuing to develop delivery systems. This past Saturday, China conducted a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering multiple warheads. A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.