According to an article in the June 25th edition of Newsweek, President Bush was stunned when he was told in May of the size of the US nuclear arsenal. Bush was quoted as saying, “I had no idea we had so many weapons.”
Like Bush, most Americans might be surprised to learn that, “The U.S. nuclear arsenal today includes 5,400 warheads loaded on intercontinental ballistic missiles at land and sea; an additional 1,750 nuclear bombs and cruise missiles ready to be launched from B-2 and B-52 bombers; a further 1,670 nuclear weapons classified as “tactical.” And just in case, an additional 10,000 or so nuclear warheads held in bunkers around the United States as a “hedge” against future surprises.” (Newsweek, 6/25/01)
Bush called for unilateral reductions in the US nuclear arsenal during his campaign and again in his May 1, 2001 speech. General Lee Butler, a former head of the US Strategic Command, has been brought back, along with Reagan Defense official Richard Perle, to advise on efforts to reduce the US nuclear arsenal. General Butler is a recipient of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Distinguished Peace Leadership Award for his outspoken advocacy of nuclear weapons abolition.
Perle, known during the Reagan administration as the Prince of Darkness for his hawkish policies, is quoted in the Newsweek article as saying, “I see no reason why we can’t go well below 1,000 [nuclear] warheads. I want the lowest number possible under the tightest control possible. The truth is we are never going to use them. The Russians aren’t going to use theirs either.”
We would like Mr. Perle to know that “the lowest number possible” would be zero. At that level, the “tightest control possible” would be far less of an issue for US and global security.