"This means (that) the 2004 Bush cuts to the U.S. stockpile have now been completed -- years early -- instead of 2012. And we think we'll dismantle 15 percent more than originally planned for 2012," the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency of the Department of Energy, said in a statement Dec. 18.
"Today's nuclear weapons stockpile is now at the size we envisioned for 2012, and by 2012, it will be 15 percent less than that. A total size just 25 percent of what it was at the end of the Cold War," the NNSA said.
Earlier on Dec. 18, the White House Press Office issued a statement saying that President George W. Bush had "approved a significant reduction in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile to take effect by the end of 2007."
"The president's decision, made on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman with the full support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander, United States Strategic Command, follows a major reduction previously announced in 2004," the White House said.
President Bush's decision "further advances policies that he has advocated since assuming office. We are reducing our nuclear weapons stockpile to the lowest level consistent with America's national security and our commitments to friends and allies," the White House said.
"A credible deterrent remains an essential part of U.S. national security, and nuclear forces remain key to meeting emerging security challenges. The reduction is part of the president's overall strategy to transform the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and its supporting infrastructure to better meet the security needs of the 21st century. It is a comprehensive effort to reduce U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons and streamline and modernize our nuclear infrastructure," it said.