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U.S. Discloses Arsenal of 5,113 Nuclear Warheads (Update1)

May 03, 2010, 4:28 PM EDT

(Adds Clinton comments after second paragraph.)

By Anthony Capaccio and Viola Gienger

May 3 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. nuclear arsenal consists of 5,113 active and inactive warheads, a Pentagon official said, revealing the size of the nation’s stockpile for the first time.

The current total of warheads is down from 22,217 in late 1989, the official told reporters at the Pentagon. He asked not to be identified.

The U.S. has kept classified the specific nuclear warhead total, which would include strategic weapons mounted on missiles and bombers for longer-range as well as shorter-range tactical arms and those that aren’t deployed.

President Barack Obama aims to set an example of U.S. transparency and willingness to pare its nuclear arsenal in hopes of compelling other nations to follow suit.

The Pentagon’s disclosure came at a briefing that coincided with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s address to the nuclear nonproliferation conference at the United Nations.

Clinton spoke several hours after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the U.S. and Israel of escalating an arms race. Clinton said it was Iran that is putting nonproliferation efforts at risk by refusing to prove its nuclear program has peaceful ends.

“Iran is the only country represented in this hall that has been found by the IAEA board of governors to be currently in non-compliance with its nuclear safeguards obligations,” Clinton told conferees seated in the General Assembly chamber on the opening day of the review of the 40-year-old nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty.

Iran Dispute

“Iran will do whatever it can to divert attention away from its own record and to attempt to evade accountability,” Clinton said.

Clinton said Iran has “defied” the International Atomic Energy Agency “and placed the future of the nonproliferation regime in jeopardy. That is why it is facing increasing isolations and pressure from the international community.”

Clinton said the U.S. would support “practical measures” that are intended to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. She said the U.S. would ask the Senate to ratify American support for agreements prohibiting the development or testing of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific and in Africa.

--With assistance from Peter S. Green and William Varner at the United Nations in New York. Editors: Bill Schmick, Edward DeMarco

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Kirk in Washington at jkirk12@bloomberg.net.

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