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Report: United States Receives a 'B' Rating on Nuclear Disarmament

From left, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the new START Treaty, 17 Jun 2010 (file pho

A new report on nuclear disarmament gives the United States a "B" rating and says all nations with nuclear capabilities need to work harder to control the proliferation of atomic weapons.

The new study, called 2009-2010 Report Card, by the independent Arms Control Association grades 11 countries that either possess nuclear weapons or seek atomic arsenals based on their efforts to meet internationally-recognized disarmament goals.

No nation received an "A" rating. The United States and Britain received the highest grades, earning "B"s, while North Korea was the only country to receive an "F" - or failing grade. Iran and Syria also fared poorly, earning "D"s. The other nations - China, France, India, Israel, Russia and Pakistan - fell somewhere near the middle.

Daryl Kimball, the Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, said, "The bottom line conclusion is the global system that has been established over the decades to reduce nuclear weapons dangers is neither on the verge of collapse nor is it on the cusp of success."

According to the report, the United States needs to reduce its nuclear arsenal.

The lead author of the report, Peter Crail, said the new strategic arms reduction treaty signed by the United States and Russia this year would help both nations improve their rankings. The accord, however, has yet to be ratified.

"We did not give the United States and Russia full credit because, as [Kimball] mentioned, they still have to go through their ratification process. And, of course, I should mention that as the two countries with the largest arsenals, they should be expected to lead the way in arms reductions," said Crail.

The New START treaty would reduce both countries' nuclear arsenals to 30 percent below their 2002 levels.

The study says North Korea has violated nearly every nonproliferation and disarmament standard during the 18-month time frame covered by the report. It notes that Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in 2009, separated plutonium for atomic weapons production and engaged in nuclear threats with its neighbors.

But Kimball said it could be worse. "There is in the nuclear nonproliferation world an overall grade that's worse than an "F" - perhaps its an "F minus" or a "G" and that is because North Korea is not known to have transferred nuclear weapons material to other states or terrorists."

Two other countries listed as "states of concern" by the report are Iran and Syria. The report cites both countries for failing to provide international inspections of their nuclear programs, which are believed to be intended for weapons making.

Israel received a "C minus" grade due to the lack of transparency of its nuclear program.