The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
Norris is a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC. A former senior research associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, his principal areas of expertise include writing and research on all aspects of the nuclear weapons programs of the United States, the Soviet Union and Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China, as well as India, Pakistan, and Israel. He is the author of Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project’s Indispensable Man and co-author of Making the Russian Bomb: From Stalin to Yeltsin. He co-authored or contributed to the chapter on nuclear weapons in the 1985–2000 editions of the SIPRI Yearbook (Oxford University Press) and has co-authored Nuclear Notebook since 1987.
The US raid that killed Osama bin Laden has raised concerns about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. In the process of building two new plutonium production reactors and a new reprocessing facility to fabricate more nuclear weapons fuel, Pakistan is also developing new delivery systems.
With Russia’s ratification of New START in January 2011 comes a commitment to bilateral nuclear reductions. With a 2018 deadline as the goal, the treaty sets out to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and the number of deployed ballistic missiles and heavy bombers.
The Obama administration’s disclosure of its stockpiled and dismantled warhead numbers through September 2009 was, apparently, a “one-time release”; thus, the question remains as to how quickly—or slowly—the country’s arsenal will decline.
As Russia and the United States continue to reduce their Cold War arsenals, global inventories of nuclear weapons will continue to decline. Yet eight of the nine nuclear states continue to produce new or modernized nuclear weapons.
With or without a follow-on agreement to START, the number of warheads in the Russian nuclear arsenal continues to shrink. But that doesn't mean Moscow has given up modernizing its strategic nuclear forces.
Pakistan is enhancing its nuclear weapon capabilities across the board by developing and deploying new nuclear-capable missiles and expanding its capacity to produce fissile materials for use in weapons.