In a drive to prove that it is serious about nuclear disarmament, the United States has disclosed the size of its arsenal. The announcement has been applauded in Germany, where nuclear weapons are highly controversial.
Germany has welcomed an announcement by the United States at a United Nations nuclear conference that it has 5,113 atomic warheads in its arsenal. This is the first time it has disclosed the exact size of its stockpile.
The move earned the applause of German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who called it a "strong signal" to participants at the UN meeting that it expected progress from the conference.
"I welcome this courageous decision of the US government," he said in Berlin. "It underlines that the US is aware of its responsibility in the disarmament process. From transparency, grows trust - the basic precondition for further disarmament."
The US Defense Department made the statement during a United Nations meeting in New York to discuss the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is intended to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. It also calls on those with warheads to abandon them.
A spokesperson said the number of warheads had dropped from 22,217 at the end of the Cold War. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said revealing the figure demonstrated the White House's commitment to transparency on proliferation.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave the first address at the New York conference, using the opportunity to rail against those countries in possession of nuclear weapons.
This prompted delegates from France, Britain and the United States to leave the assembly. The West suspects that Iran is developing nuclear arms, but Tehran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Editor: Chuck Penfold
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