NATO and Russia should release tactical nuclear arsenal figures

At the beginning of May, the United States officially announced that it has 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile, plus “several thousand” more waiting to be dismantled. The total was hardly a surprise since it closely matched unofficial estimates that have been publicly circulating for many years. But the announcement was a welcome boost both for nuclear transparency and US credibility at the NPT Review Conference negotiations currently taking place in New York.
The disclosure also put pressure on other nuclear weapon states (NWS) to reciprocate and move beyond the ballpark figures that some have previously provided. Indeed, Russia one of the most secretive of all the NWS in this regard, has now indicated that it could eventually follow the US lead in detailing the size of its nuclear arsenal. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko is quoted by Reuters as saying: "We think that this step by Washington will increase transparency and consolidate trust between nuclear and non-nuclear states. After the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed by the Russian and US presidents in Prague ... comes into force, we will likewise be able to consider disclosing the total number of Russia's deployed strategic delivery vehicles and the warheads they can carry".
However, similar ‘non-secrets’ in relation to tactical or non-strategic nuclear weapons continue to be jealously guarded by US/NATO and Russian officials. Unofficial estimates of tactical nuclear weapons are already in the public domain and there are no security-related justifications as to why both the United States and Russia could not disclose the total number of strategic and non-strategic weapons in their respective stockpiles. They should do so without delay. And as part of such a disclosure, the US/NATO should also publish the inventories of tactical nuclear warheads remaining in Europe, as a first step in progress towards their eventual withdrawal. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey continue to host US tactical nuclear weapons on their territories as part of a nuclear sharing agreement within NATO.