US may disclose size of its nuclear weapons at NPT meet: Report

''The numbers could be released as soon as Monday when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to address the NPT Review Conference in New York,'' officials were quoted as saying.

She will speak after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is likely to repeat his demand for more global controls over the stockpiles of the nuclear nations, 'The Washington Post' reported.

According to The Post, US officials fear Ahmadinejad could hijack the conference with such demands, diverting attention from his own nuclear programme, which is widely seen as violating the non-proliferation treaty.

Arms-control groups estimate the US arsenal contains 9,000 weapons, with roughly 5,000 of them active and the rest in line for dismantlement, it said.

Experts interviewed by the paper termed it as a major initiative, saying that the United States has not got enough credit for the reductions it has made.

"That's even true of the Bush administration.... It makes it easier for us to make the case we are in fact reducing the number of nuclear weapons," Jeffrey Lewis, director of the Nuclear Strategy and Non-proliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation, was quoted as saying.

While several officials said announcements in this regard would be made during the conference, the Post reported that one senior official cautioned that no final decision had been made.

"He noted that legally, such information could be declassified only if it were clear it would not lead to further nuclear proliferation," it said.

The daily said the Obama Administration believes it is going into the NPT conference beginning on Monday in a position of strength, pointing to a string of recent nuclear achievements -- including an arms reduction treaty with Russia and a nuclear-terrorism summit that drew 46 countries to Washington last month.

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