WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Monday will release long-classified statistics about the total size of America’s nuclear arsenal, part of an effort to make the case that the country is honoring its treaty commitments to shrink its inventory of weapons significantly, senior administration officials said Sunday.
The American initiative will be cast by the White House as a small but significant step toward allowing the world to measure whether President Obama makes good on his promise of reducing American reliance on nuclear defenses. The commitment to make the figures public will be included in a speech that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver at the opening of a United Nations conference reviewing progress on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Mrs. Clinton will also announce new funds for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
For years, American intelligence officials have objected to publishing quantitative descriptions of the American nuclear arsenal, concerned that the figures might help terrorist groups calculate the minimum nuclear fuel needed for a weapon. But administration officials said reputable Web sites that track such issues have long noted that American weapons designers need an average of around 4 kilograms of plutonium, or 8.8 pounds.