The United States and Russia agreed more than eight months ago to reduce their stock of strategic intercontinental missiles, bombers and nuclear warheads. But the US continues to maintain a nuclear edge over Russia.
The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty requires both countries to reduce their deployed nuclear warheads down to 1,550 each by February 2018. Currently, the United States has 1,790 deployed nuclear warheads, and Russia has 1,556.
Both are also required to reduce their deployed strategic delivery systems to 700, a provision Russia already meets. The United States has removed 60 deployed nuclear-weapons delivery systems leaving in place 822 land- and submarine-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers.
The absurdity of gradually reducing the number of times these two nations can destroy the Earth seems to be as lost on world leaders as related absurdities were during the Cold War. But these numbers are a reminder of what a non-threat countries like Iran and North Korea really are. Despite almost constant fear-mongering about their nuclear-wielding leaders, the former has neither the capacity for a single nuclear weapon, nor the desire to be incinerated off the map. The latter has nuclear capability, but has shown similar demonstrated preferences for self-preservation.
But the START treaty isn’t the only mutually agreed legal obligation to reduce nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) calls for the five major nuclear powers — Britain, France, China, the United States and Russia — to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.
The treaty has 189 signatories, including every state in the Middle East with the exception of Israel. The United States has violated its obligations under the NPT by helping Israel obtain and maintain its hundreds of nuclear weapons, which they refuse to officially recognize. A nuclear-weapons-free-zone would be a realizable achievement – effectively nullifying the so-called Iranian threat – if not for Israel’s arsenal, unique to the region and utterly unnecessary given its close alliance with the US.