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US "Not Developing New Nuclear Weapons, No New Nuclear Missions"

A top US Arms Control official has vowed that the United States is neither developing new nuclear weapons, nor pursuing any new nuclear missions.

Delivering remarks on "Moving the Prague Agenda Forward" at the Arms Control Association Annual Meeting in Washington on Monday, US Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said that "Beyond responsibly reducing the number of nuclear weapons, the Obama Administration has been committed to reducing their role in our national security strategy as well. We are not developing new nuclear weapons; we are not pursuing new nuclear missions; we are working toward creating the conditions to make deterring nuclear use the sole purpose of our nuclear weapons; and we have clearly stated that it is in our interest and the interest of all other states that the more than 65-year record of nuclear non-use be extended forever."

As part of the implementation of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the U.S. Government is reviewing its nuclear deterrence requirements and nuclear plans to ensure that they are aligned to address today's threats. Gottemoeller said Washington is considering what forces the United States needs to maintain for strategic stability and deterrence, including extended deterrence and assurance to U.S. Allies and partners. Based on this analysis, we will develop proposals for potential further reductions in our nuclear stockpile, which currently stands at approximately 5,000 total warheads, he added.

As the President (Barack Obama) said recently at the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, "we can already say with confidence that we have more nuclear weapons than we need," said Gottemoeller.

"Once complete, this study of our deterrence requirements will help shape our negotiating approach to the next agreement with Russia."

Regardless of numbers, the US President has stressed that the next nuclear reductions agreement between the United States and Russia should include strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed nuclear weapons. Of course, no previous arms control agreement has limited or monitored these kinds of weapons and the lower the numbers go, the more important it will be that we have confidence in declared numbers. We are going to need new, more demanding approaches to verification and monitoring, Gottemoeller said, expressing confidence that "we can find ways to overcome these challenges."

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