National Security

White House Slashing U.S. Nuclear Stockpiles

White House
AP

The United States cut its nuclear stockpiles by 20 percent between 1996 and 2013, with more reductions likely to come, according to recently declassified information released by the White House.

Stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, which is used to fuel a nuclear weapon, were cut from 740.7 metric tons to 586.6 metric tons from 1996 to 2013, according to recently declassified information made available by the Obama administration.

"This reflects a reduction of over 20 percent," the White House announced. "Moreover, further reductions in the inventory are ongoing; the U.S. Department of Energy’s material disposition program has down-blended 7.1 metric tons of HEU since September 30, 2013, and continues to make progress in this area."

The stockpile reductions are part of an effort by the Obama administration to eliminate nuclear materials and move away from these types of weapons.

The move comes as countries such as Russia and North Korea move to increase their nuclear stockpiles. Russia, for instance, has made several announcements about its intent to boost its nuclear stockpile and number of weapons.

However, the United States is moving in the opposite direction.

As of Sept. 30, 2013, the U.S. HEU inventory stood at 586.6 metric tons.

"Of this amount, 499.4 metric tons was for national security or non-national security programs including nuclear weapons, naval propulsion, nuclear energy, and science," according to the White House.

"Of the remaining 86.2 metric tons, 41.6 metric tons was available for potential down-blend to low enriched uranium or, if not possible, disposal as low-level waste, and 44.6 metric tons was in spent reactor fuel," the White House said.

The Obama administration said it released this classified data in order to promote nuclear transparency across the globe.

"The U.S. commitment to sharing appropriate nuclear security-related information has also been demonstrated by recent actions such as the declassification of information on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and transparency visits by officials from non-nuclear weapons states to Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories," the White House said. "These actions show that countries can increase transparency without revealing sensitive information."