The Federation of American Scientists, which has been producing the best estimates of global nuclear arsenals from public sources for the past 30 years, noted proudly in a statement Tuesday that the Pentagon's official count is just 13 bombs off its own latest guess, and added that the US move "ends years of unnecessary and counterproductive secrecy" about atomic arms.
"Disclosing the size of the US nuclear weapons stockpile puts pressure on other nuclear-weapon states to reciprocate," the group says. "Russia, whose arsenal is more difficult to track and assess, should respond by divulging comparable information about the size and status of its nuclear stockpile."
The organization estimates that Russia currently deploys around 2,600 strategic nuclear warheads and 2,050 tactical ones. The exact number of strategic weapons – those with intercontinental capability, based missiles, submarines or bombers – would have been provided to the US in the course of negotiations for the recently signed START accord.
"Tactical" nuclear warheads usually have a smaller explosive yield than "strategic" ones and are typically mounted on missiles with a range of about 300 miles or less.
Russian analysts insist that the numbers of tactical weapons in Moscow's arsenal will not be so easy to estimate, or to divulge.