United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DOD Background Briefing with Senior Defense Official from the Pentagon

Presenter: Senior Defense Official
May 03, 2010

                SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. 

                 I understand we have a senior official from the Department of Energy on the phone as well.   

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: Yeah (briefer name deleted), I'm on line.   

                 Q     (Off mike.) 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, you'll hear our names. I'm Senior Defense Official and he's Senior Department of Energy Official. 

                 Let me say just a couple of words before opening it up to your questions.   

                 As I think you already know, we're releasing today some newly declassified information on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.   

                 Increasing the transparency of our nuclear weapons stockpile, and our dismantlement, as well, is important to both our nonproliferation efforts and to the efforts we have under way to pursue arms control that will follow the new START treaty.   

                 What we've said in the past, including in the NPR, was that after ratification and entry into force of new START, we'll pursue reductions not just in strategic weapons, but in strategic and non- strategic, deployed and non-deployed; in other words, in the stockpile. And so, all for nonproliferation and arms control reasons, we want to release these numbers, and we think the United States has set an example of transparency that will be very helpful as we go forward. 

                 We looked at declassification of stockpile data as part of the Nuclear Posture Review. It's something that was recommended by the Strategic Posture Commission set up by former Secretaries Perry and Schlesinger. And frankly, we were still in the process of assessing all the associated issues when it came time for the -- past time for the Nuclear Posture Review to go final, continued to work on this issue, continued to assess it, and we're happy to be announcing this and to be bringing out these numbers today. 

                 A fact sheet that you'll get shortly will provide some -- a good deal of information. Let me just say that we're releasing information in three different categories. The first is the overall stockpile. And what we'll do is release information on the total size of the stockpile as of the end of each fiscal year through 2009, so as of September 30th, 2009, and then go back in time.   

                 And we'll show you that to date, through September 30, 2009, there's been a reduction of about 84 percent from the peak number of the stockpile, which was -- the peak Cold War, and indeed about a 75 percent reduction since the Berlin Wall fell.   

                 We expect further reductions in the stockpile due to the new START treaty, if ratified, if it enters into force. And we expect that in the future, that improvements in infrastructure, the investments that this administration's requesting from -- support from Congress for will allow yet further reductions as well, because it will allow us to hedge by the infrastructure as opposed to having spare weapons. 

                 Second category of information we're releasing today is on the numbers of weapons dismantled by fiscal year. Again, through September 30th, 2009, and the number -- the number there that you'll see is that we've -- since 1994, which is the piece -- the chunk of it that we show in the -- in the fact sheet, dismantled 8,748 weapons.   

                 And third, we're releasing the fact that there's been a 90- percent reduction in non-strategic nuclear weapons from September '91 to September 2009, essentially since the end of the Cold War to today, a 90-percent reduction in non-strategic nuclear weapons. 

                 This is not the first time that data on the nuclear stockpile have been released. The total size of the stockpile had been previously disclosed. That went through 1961, so we're updating it to 2009. The numbers of weapons dismantled had previously been released. That went through early part of 1994, and again -- (coughs) -- excuse me -- we're updating it in that case. 

                 And so, releasing information in these three categories, the objective is to -- is to show that -- through our transparency a model that we -- that we hope that others will follow. And we think it's going to have benefits for both nonproliferation and for our future work in arms control. 

                 With that, I want to ask if the senior Energy official has anything to add. 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: I would just add that, you know, this -- the approach from a dismantlement standpoint allows us to move forward kind of in a -- in a very transparent way, that our program that we have set forth with us allows us to get dismantlements done and get them done safely.   

                 And I think the key word that we all use when we work on our stockpile is the safety element of that, and that the program that we've submitted in our FY '11 budget request is very consistent with doing that and continuing on moving forward out into the next 10, 12 years or so to take care of the warheads that have been retired by the president and are planning to be retired out in the next years. 

                 That's it. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: (Off mike) -- number I omitted earlier, and that is, as of September 30th, 2009, there were 5,113 nuclear warheads in the stockpile.  And as the senior Energy official indicated, this does not include the weapons that are currently retired and awaiting dismantlement. There are several thousand more of them. 

                 Yes, please. 

                 Q     Then, counting those that are in the -- essentially like the junker pile, is the estimate of between 8,000 and a little over 9,000 total current? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Let me ask my colleague to answer that question, if I can. 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: Yeah, I missed the first part of that question. I think it's just a matter of the phone connection. Can you repeat the question?   

                 Q     Sure. Counting those that you're not counting here -- in other words, the ones about to be junked -- what is the rough -- the estimate, as close as you can give it, of the total total stockpile? 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: That -- we're examining looking at being able to declassify the total numbers of weapons awaiting dismantlement. So we're examining a possibility of releasing that information. That determination hasn't been made yet.   

                 What I will say is very consistent with what's been said before. And that is, our goal is to -- even with expected increases for those warheads in this retirement category that we expect to have added to us, as a result of decisions made in the new START, that we plan on finishing that job in the early part of the next decade.   

                 You know, it's a set workload that we've been working on, as you can see. Pretty significant decrease, you know, dismantled -- you know, just from '94 to 2009, there's over 8,700 warheads. And we're going to continue to work that job down, even with the additional warheads that we expect to add, to get this done by the early part of the next decade, like the year 2022-2023 standpoint.   

                 Q     It sounds like you wouldn't argue with the independent analyst's estimate of 8,000 to 9,000 and change as the current total number, is that right?   

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: I would argue with that. But I can't give you the exact number, because we're examining the possibility of declassifying that information. So I will -- in due course hopefully in the not too distant future, we'll be able to take a look at that. But some more analysis has to be done, to make sure that information that we release doesn't impact U.S. national security interests, which on the surface it shouldn't.   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I agree. I think when you add 5,113 and several thousand, you get a number that you can pretty well calculate.  

                 Yeah.   

                 Q     Just to be clear, this 5,113 number covers deployed and nondeployed warheads?   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: It includes -- it includes warheads in the stockpile, which include both active and inactive. And it includes all the deployed warheads, and it includes a number of nondeployed warheads. 

                 Q     Tactical? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That's correct. 

                 Q     And so that number would include backpack nukes and the whole -- everything? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: (Chuckles) -- it would not -- we're not going to talk about the types of weapons that it -- that it includes. But it includes all of the -- all of the nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile. 

                 Q     Is this the 75-percent reduction -- the figure that -- 75- percent reduction since 1994? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The 75-percent reference was -- for the stockpile overall was from -- relative to late 1989, from '89 to 2009. And I'll just -- the number, the stockpile number as of September 30, 2000 -- I'm sorry, September 30, 1989, was 22,217. And so from -- it's from 22,217 to 5,113. That gets you a little over 75 percent. 

                 Q     Would that be apples and apples? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That's apples and apples. That's stockpile, again, including the -- and I'd probably ask my colleague to go into the details -- both active and inactive. Again, does not include those that are retired and awaiting full dismantlement. 

                 Q     But you have mentioned the number 8,748. I didn't get it. Could you explain give us more detail on that?. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The number -- oh, I'm sorry. The number that you cited is the number of weapons that have been dismantled since 1994. So the weapon taken from the -- taken from the stockpile, placed in the -- in the -- retired from the stockpile, and then -- and then basically completely taken apart. That's the number that have occurred since 1994. 

                 We'll actually give you by-year numbers in the handout. And when you put the numbers we provide together with those that have been previously disclosed, they go all the way back in time. 

                 Q     How do you decipher -- from "stockpiled" and "set to be dismantled"? Because to me that sounds sort of like the same thing. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, I'm -- I would be prepared to answer, but I have another expert in the -- on the phone here from the Department of Energy who I think will be better able to give that answer. And we will include the definitions in the -- in the fact sheet that -- what's in the stockpile, which includes both active and inactive, and what's retired, and then what is actually, you know, dismantled as well. 

                 If I could ask my colleague from the Department of Energy to just walk through that, that'd be great. 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: I'd be glad to, except that I think I'm missing the first half of every question that gets asked. So if the person asking the question could repeat the question? 

                 Q     Can you decipher "set to be dismantled" versus stockpiling the weapons? 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: How do we decipher, was that the question? Or -- 

                 Q     Yeah, what's the difference between stockpiling them and storing them somewhere else and saying you'll one day destroy them? 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: Oh, okay. Thank you. Good question.   

                 The -- a retired warhead, or a warhead that we're -- we've removed it from its delivery platform, basically, it's a non- functional warhead. We're not considering it part of the nuclear stockpile. It's put in the queue for dismantlements. And these are warheads that we don't plan on taking care of the tritium bottles. We -- they're in a non-operational status.   

                 We don't replace the limited-life components that go in those particular warheads. The main job is to make sure that they're safe, okay? So it reduces the workload significantly.   

                 These are not warheads that we -- it would take a significant amount of work to get them ready to be put in a stockpiled condition, because -- we wouldn't put them in a stockpiled condition because they haven't been -- had an active set of surveillance done on them; you know, just like in your automobile, where you want to make sure your car is ready for a trip, you're going to always have washer fluid in there, you're going to have a good battery, you're going to check your tires.   

                 When we take a stockpile out of the -- a warhead out of the stockpile and we put it in this retirement or warheads-awaiting- dismantlement queue, we basically say we just want to make -- you know, we don't worry about the tires or the battery or the gas in the vehicle, or any of these things. And it would take a tremendous amount of effort, frankly, to shift them out of that category into the stockpile category. It would require a lot of work. And frankly, our focus is on the smaller set of stock -- warheads we have right now and on taking down that dismantlement queue. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Just to complete that thought, a dismantled warhead is one that's been taken apart into its component pieces. 

                 Q     (Off mike) -- in the stockpile. The active is on a delivery system, inactive is one that is still being updated as? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Again, I'll give an answer first and ask my colleague to chime in. Active includes both strategic and nonstrategic, maintained in an operational status. That includes deployed but also a number, a reasonably small number, of additional weapons that are in a ready-for-use configuration, weapons that have to be available for use on a relatively short timeline. 

                 And in addition to that, the active includes a number of logistic spares. 

                 So the active is deployed. Some nondeployed that are prepared -- for example, today, with no -- given the status of our bombers and our bomber weapons, you don't -- we don't have on a day-to-day basis those -- significant numbers of those weapons deployed. Instead, we have them -- we have them in storage. And those -- a number of those are active. 

                 Inactive warheads are maintained at a depot. They're not operational. They have their tritium bottles removed. And I think my colleague can probably say more about that category, and the difference between that and a retired warhead. 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: Certainly. The warheads in the inactive, in addition to having their bottles removed, we do what we call surveillance, which is regular checkups on these warheads. We have, essentially, some of the warheads -- part of our surveillance program, in fact, includes doing what is -- you know, nondestructive testing and some destructive testing. And the destructive testing means we take out a particular component of the warhead and actually cut it open and take it apart. Now, since we cut it open, we can't -- it can't be used again, so we have to build another spare part to put in. 

                 But because it's literally has some parts cut out of it, it is not in the -- it's still a -- could be made into a warhead. It's still -- it's not considered an active warhead because, as my colleague from the Defense Department said, those warheads in that active category have to meet a -- an opportunity to support the operationally deployed warheads within a -- within a given period of time. 

                 So you also -- we also maintain -- in the inactive -- in addition to having their tritium bottles removed, you know, we do this active -- do this surveillance work on them. We keep some of those as what some people have called a technical hedge, others have called reserve. But these are warheads, because -- to essentially hedge against a technical uncertainty that might happen in the stockpile. 

                 So it's a -- it's a subcategory of the stockpile. Both active and inactive warheads are part of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. And -- but it's a category that they are much further removed; they're much further from being ready to ever be made into a nuclear weapon. 

                 Q     The -- a couple just quick technical questions, I think. The -- on your third point that you started with -- and when you said there was 90-percent decrease in nonstrategic nuclear weapons, that's a subset of that first category of a -- the 84-percent decline from peak. That 84 percent was all nuclear weapons, and 90 percent is nonstrategic or tactical weapons, right? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That's right. And I -- and I -- and I use slightly different time frames as well in describing it. You'll be able to -- for the -- for the stockpile, as a whole, you'll be able to see the data then go back and, you know, choose your years to match. 

                 Q     You're not giving us a breakdown -- right? -- of active versus inactive in the stockpile. We're just getting one overall number, right? And that's -- 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That's right. 

                 Q     Okay. And the -- will the START treaty -- if ratified, will it reduce that stockpile number? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We would expect the START treaty, if ratified, to reduce the stockpile number. 

                 Q     And do we know by how much? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We have estimates, but what we will -- what we'll do is present those as part of the ratification discussion to the -- to the Senate. 

                 Q     Could you give an example of a non-strategic nuclear weapon? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah. A so-called tactical nuclear weapon, for example those that we're -- that are deployed in Europe today; those that -- there was a larger number, obviously, before, given that we've reduced them by 90 percent. (Chuckles.) We consider also the weapon associated with the TLAM-N, which we're now retiring as a tactical nuclear weapon, as a non-strategic nuclear weapon. 

                 Q     So is it fair to say that these would be weapons dropped on -- conventional airplanes and old-time artillery shells, but mostly conventional aircraft, like the F-16 or F-15, versus nuclear missiles or D-5s? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, the simpler category to define is probably the strategic, which is -- includes ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. And then the non-strategic are other than that. 

                 Q     And what's the number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe today? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That is not a number that we are releasing. 

                 Q     Okay. And is it safe to assume that the figures that are being released today have already been provided to the Russians? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No. It's -- given that they're being unclassified today, they will be available to many parties. 

                 Q     So these numbers have not been previously shared with the Russians in -- during any of these arms talks? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The past -- (coughs) -- excuse me. The past treaties that we've signed, including the SALT and START treaties, focused principally on delivery vehicles and had a -- for example, START had an attribution rule for warheads so that they were not accountable under the treaty.   

                 There's extensive data-sharing on -- platforms on the ICBMs, SLBMs, submarines, heavy bombers and so forth. But there has not been to the same degree on warheads.   

                 Q     What is the U.S. estimate of the number of warheads active and inactive that the Russians have?   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't know that we've done that unclassified. We do have an estimate.   

                 Let me get to someone back here.   

                 Q     Given the fact that you know there has been a lot of talk about how the Russians have many more tactical nuclear weapons, what kind of -- is this meant to send a message to the Russians that they need to kind of follow U.S. lead and put pressure on them to reduce their tactical stockpile?   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, we had said -- as part of the Nuclear Posture Review and our discussions with the Russians, in new START and in other forums as well -- that we'd like to have follow-on negotiations, after new START is ratified and entered into force, that address both strategic and nonstrategic, both deployed and nondeployed, so that in that type of a bilateral discussion, negotiation, Russian tactical nuclear weapons would come into play.   

                 We've also suggested that we think it would be sensible and advantageous for Russia to move them back deeper into the center of the country and to continue to take steps to improve their security.   

                 STAFF:    I just want to make sure your colleague, before he has to drop off the call, which I think is soon, if he has anything else?   

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: No. I'm here to answer questions. And I've got about three more minutes if there are any on this side.   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Any that you think are particularly about the DOE-related issues here of technical aspects in particular of the stockpile.   

                 In the back.   

                 Q     Yes, sir. Pending ratification of the START, by the Senate, there was some language in the review noting that a certain level above the agreed stockpile levels could be held for development of a conventional prompt global strike type of weapon. If ratified, can you explain how those numbers will work? Will that be considered an increase to the levels that are agreed upon in START, and then there's sort of a margin that can be held, so technically the numbers that are agreed to will be slightly higher for the U.S.? And also, a follow-up on the 2023 - 2033 timeline. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay. The new START treaty has several limits, as you know. It's 700 deployed delivery vehicles, 800 deployed plus nondeployed delivery vehicles, and then an aggregate limit of 1,550 on accountable warheads. 

                 The -- any conventional warheads that were associated with ICBMs or SLBMs would be accountable under that limit. They wouldn't be counted in the stockpile here, because they'd be non-nuclear; they'd be accountable under that limit, again, for -- if deployed on ICBMs or SLBMs, as opposed to other systems. 

                 Q     And this is just clarification on sort of that 2023 -- 2033 deadline, that was to meet the force-structure levels outlined in START? Was that -- is that the deadline that you had discussed earlier? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: New START will have -- let me answer briefly, and then I'll turn it over to my colleague. New START will -- if ratified and it enters into force, will have a seven-year implementation period and a 10-year duration; with an option, if both sides agree to extend, for another five years. 

                 So those, I think -- I think I will now let my colleague answer on the DOE side. 

                 SR. DOE OFFICIAL: Oh, okay. If I could again get the request repeated. I think what happens is the first few words of any sentence get -- are kind of muffled out, and then it kicks in. 

                 Go ahead, please. 

                 Q     Yeah. Just wanted to get a little more detail on that tentative timeline, the 2023, 2033 dates that you were discussing earlier. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: In previous years, we'd been required and have been submitting classified reports to Congress detailing our dismantlement rates and what specific warheads we're working on at any given particular period of time. And I believe the last report we gave, about a year and a half ago, to Congress, and that report laid out essentially the track -- the amount of work that we planned on doing to take apart that last warhead that was awaiting dismantlement. And that date was about -- it was about in the year 2022-'23 time frame. 

                 Since the two years or so since that report has gone out, I mean, our goal has been to not only meet the commitments we've provided to Congress but exceed those commitments. And in the past couple years, we actually have been able to exceed the rate of warhead dismantlement that we had originally planned, due to efficiency improvements that we -- you know, we've been building new tools, special tooling to take apart these warheads. And the tooling has operated better than we had expected and our operators had done better than expected. 

                 That being so, based on the fact that we're doing a little bit better than we had expected, our projection and our plan is, despite the fact that we expect to add more warheads to the dismantlement queue to retain this commitment to take apart those warheads on the same rate so that we can be done in the early part of next century, then -- I'm sorry, next decade, I apologize -- then -- you know, the important thing to remember is -- and I know people like to fixate on numbers because, you know, the numbers are very concrete and very specific -- the important thing to remember is that, you know, we have different types of warheads to dismantle.   

                 Not any one warhead type is the same to take apart as another warhead type. They're very different.   

                 And when the fact sheet comes out, I believe you'll see, obviously, year by year the numbers are very different from one year to the next. And that should be expected, because some of these warheads, particularly the very older -- the old ones and big ones, you know, they were made with different types of safety features than the more modern warheads. And so we have to be extra careful. We have special procedures to write, and we get them triple-checked by our laboratories and independently checked to make sure that, you know, we're not -- we -- that we're doing things in the safest manner possible.  Again, safety is the number-one goal here. Obviously, taking apart the warheads in a safe manner is my greatest desire.   

                 So that kind of explains the early part of next -- it's a carryover from the early classified reports that we provided to Congress in 2006 and 2008 time frame. And when we get more details about how the future looks with respect to warheads, more in this category, and when we get a little bit more track record under our feet with -- over the next few years, we'll be updating these plans and meeting our targets. 

                 Q     You mentioned -- how long it's been since the U.S. has updated some of these numbers, does the timing of today's announcement -- what bearing does that have on the U.S. making its case for why Iran should not pursue its nuclear technology? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Let me first clarify what I had said both with respect to numbers in the stockpile and dismantlement. It's the date through which we previously have released data.   

                 In other words, we released data going through 1961 for the numbers in the stockpile. Those data were released -- my colleague may correct me -- but as I recall, they were released in 1993.   

                 So we -- as we came in to do this Nuclear Posture Review, we from the outset -- from the outset were looking at where we might increase transparency, both because it's inherently appropriate to do so -- if there's not a -- if there's not a compelling national security reason for classification, it should be declassified -- and in addition, as I said before, we believe that it would be helpful to do so both for nonproliferation and for arms-control purposes.   

                 So it was -- I guess the timing I would ascribe to the fact that we conducted a Nuclear Posture Review, and the fact that it came out a little bit afterwards to the reality that we -- that even after we had some inclinations of where it would be likely appropriate to release information, we continue to scrub those questions and ensure that we had an in-depth assessment by the intelligence community before we released it. 

                 The timing associated with the NPT Review Conference I hope makes -- you know, is fortuitous, and we -- and hope that that helps on the nonproliferation side. 

                 Q     Fortuitous in what way?

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, in the sense that the United States is showing that it is being increasingly transparent with respect to its own nuclear-weapons program and as part of our commitment, both on transparency broadly but also on -- in this area, to set the stage for strength and nonproliferation and for further arms control in the future. 

                 Back here. 

                 Q     On the international stage, what level of transparency do other countries express in revealing their numbers? What countries do tell us? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I think it is fair to say that with the release of data that we have today that we will -- that the United States will set a standard for the -- for declassification of this information.   

                 One of the things that we had noted, as we did the Nuclear Posture Review and as we released the report, was that in particular we would like to see more transparency from China, where we have really quite little visibility into their programs and plants and, in addition to that, their doctrine.   

                 So we'd like to engage with them in data exchange and more than that, a substantive exchange on thinking about strategic issues. We've had that kind of a substantive exchange for a longer period with Russia, with respect to -- with respect, as I said before, more to delivery systems than to warheads.   

                 But we'd like to encourage the other parties and particularly as I said China and as we go forward with Russia as well, to show more transparency.   

                 STAFF: We have time for one or two more.   

                 Q     What about on that same question though with Israel? Is it more difficult because they're an ally? They historically don't release their -- acknowledge their system, but the president acknowledged it a couple weeks ago I think in a speech.   

                 But your thoughts on it?   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Our orientation on this was very much about both in terms of positive motivations in addition to just declassifying; was very much about strengthening the nonproliferation regime and about taking the next steps in arms control.   

                 And so that question was frankly not a factor in our analysis.   

                 Q     For those of us who don't cover this all the time, when you say that the new START sets a target of 1,550 accountable warheads, does that mean that the 5,113 number that you gave us is going down to 1,550, if START is ratified, and within the appropriate time frame?   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, it doesn't. 

                 Q     Well, what's the connection between those numbers? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The connection between those numbers is that you would expect that when the reductions are completed under new START, that our active stockpile would have -- would include those 1,550; and that in addition to that, in the active stockpile there may be logistics spares and so on that my colleague talked about. And then, in addition to that, there would be some in the inactive -- in the inactive stockpile as well. 

                 And the numbers of weapons in those categories is something that we'll be looking at as we look -- as we both look to implement the treaty and as we look at the capacity of the infrastructure to deal with problems with warheads, as opposed to -- as opposed to keeping more spares. 

                 Q     And one more clarification on that. That 1,500 number is only strategic, not tactical, correct? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That's right. 

                 Q     So that another component of the stockpile would be any tactical weapons that will be -- continue to -- have? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: That is correct. 

                 Q     And in terms of delivery systems, which you said are going down to 700 deployable and 800 nondeployable -- 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Seven hundred deployed -- 

                 Q     Deployed. I'm sorry. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: -- and a total of 800 deployed plus nondeployed under the treaty. 

                 Q     So can you say today how many of these nuclear weapons, the 5,000-odd nuclear weapons, could be deployed, or could be fired at a given time? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Well, I won't go to -- I won't go to answer it with respect to the number that could be fired or the number alert at a given moment. 

                 But I'll note that we for some period of time have been under the so- called Moscow treaty, or the SORT treaty. And under that, we agreed to keep our number of deployed nuclear weapons between 1,700 and 2,200 -- I'm sorry, deployed strategic weapons between 1,700 and 2,200. So it's been in that range for some time. 

                 Q     So that's how many could be fired within that range on a presidential order if it were necessary. And you have thousands more. 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I won't say that that's the number that could be immediately fired. We have them in different postures. For example, as I said, on a day-to-day basis we moved from strip alert for bombers almost two decades ago. And so in general you have -- in general you don't have bomber weapons associated with -- or deployed on the bombers. And you could -- and you have different alert rates for submarines than for ICBMs. So it's not -- the math isn't that direct. 

                 Q     Can you just talk briefly about the -- how this decision was made? I mean, if you could essentially declassify so much material by diktat on one day, what was the rationale for keeping it classified before? And how did you overcome the intelligence community's objections to its declassification now? 

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: As I said, this was an issue that was addressed really throughout the course of the Nuclear Posture Review. And the fundamental premise was that we should declassify where possible because it's -- first of all, because we should only classify where necessary, and there are specific guidelines for doing that. And also, there's an understanding, as I said before, that there is likely to be value for nonproliferation and arms control in the future for declassification. 

                 With respect to the -- with respect to the intelligence community, we have engaged throughout the process and have -- within the NPR and following the conclusion of the NPR went back to make sure that we focused on appropriate questions and sensitive data where there was a very, very high degree of confidence that the release posed no -- that the release did not pose any proliferation risk.   

                 So it was an iterative and literally exhaustive process over the course of some time.   

                 Q     Was there actually resistance from the intelligence community that you had to overcome? And what was involved in that? That was part of my question.   

                 SR. DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No. I think -- I've seen the stories about that. What we had is, we had questions that were formulated at a relatively broad level initially, that then got more focused over time.   

                 And we had an iterative process where we'd have interim results come back in, based on Question A. And then we would say, well, how about Question A Prime or Question B? And so there was a bit of a learning process in which -- as an interagency team, in which the intelligence community was very much involved.

                 (C) COPYRIGHT 2010, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE. NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

                 UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

                 FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

                 FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL CARINA NYBERG AT 202-347-1400.