31.03.23 | 4 minute read | text by texthis christensen&mate times&Iliana Jans&kate conn
Who owns the world's nuclear weapons?
Despite progress in reducing nuclear arsenals since the Cold War, the combined global stockpile of nuclear warheads remains very high, with nine countries possessing approximately 12,500 nuclear warheads as of early 2023.
Together, the United States and Russia now possess about 89 percent of the world's total arsenal of nuclear weapons and 86 percent of the stockpiled warheads available for military use. Currently, no other nuclear weapon state sees a need for more than a few hundred nuclear weapons for national security, although many of these states are building up their nuclear stockpiles.
Globally, the total arsenal of nuclear weapons is declining, but the rate of decline is slowing compared to the past 30 years. Furthermore, these reductions are only happening because the US and Russia are still dismantling old nuclear warheads.
In contrast to the total arsenal of nuclear weapons, the number of nuclear warheads in world military arsenals, including warheads assigned to operational forces, is increasing again.The United States is still slowly depleting its nuclear arsenal. France and Israel have relatively stable reserves. But China, India, North Korea, Pakistan and the UK, and possibly Russia, will increase their supplies (see map):
Of the approximately 12,500 warheads in the world, approximately 9,576 are in military arsenals for use by missiles, aircraft, ships, and submarines. The remaining warheads have been decommissioned, but are still relatively intact and awaiting decommissioning.) Of the 9,576 warheads in military arsenals, approximately 3,804 have been deployed in operational forces (at missile or bomber bases). Of these, approximately 2,000 US, Russian, British and French nuclear warheads are in use.big alarm, ready for short-term use (see table):
Estimated world stockpile of nuclear warheads, 2023
Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, and Eliana Reynolds, Federation of American Scientists, 2023
The exact number of nuclear weapons each country possesses is a closely guarded national secret, so the estimates presented here are surrounded by great uncertainty. Most nuclear weapon states provide virtually no information on the size of their nuclear stockpiles. However, the level of secrecy varies significantly from country to country. Between 2010 and 2018, the United States reported the total size of its reserves, but in 2019stop this practice. In 2020, the Biden administrationnuclear transparency restored- a brief victory for nuclear responsibility in a democracy - but then refused to release US stockpiles data for 2021 or 2022. Similarly, in 2021 the UKIt was announcedthat it will no longer publish data on its operational inventory, warhead deployed, or number of missiles deployed. In addition, both the United States and Russia have chosen not to share publicly available data on their warheads and strategic launchers deployed after 2023, as required by the New START treaty.
Despite these limitations, however, publicly available information, careful analysis of historical data, and occasional leaks allow for better estimates of the size and composition of national nuclear stockpiles. See this table for a breakdown of the warhead categories of the various nuclear weapon states, and for links to more detailed descriptions of each country's arsenals:
State of the world's nuclear forces 2023
|Tierra||It was strategically developed||Developed Nonstrategic||Reserved/Not Deployed||military inventory(s)||Total inventory(b)|
|USA||1,670 (grams)||100 hours||1,938 (yo)||3.708(j)||5.244 (k)|
|long shots||~ 3.744||~ 100||~ 5.732||~ 9.576||~ 12.512|
State of the world's nuclear forces, 2023
How to read this table:"Advanced strategic warheads" are those deployed on ICBM and heavy bomber bases. "Deployed non-strategic warheads" are those deployed at bases with operational short-range launch systems. "Spare/non-deployed" warheads are warheads that are not deployed on launchers but are stored (weapons on bomber bases are considered deployed). The "military inventory" includes active and inactive warheads in the custody of the armed forces and destined for ordered transport vehicles. The "total reservoir" includes warheads in the military inventory, as well as removed but intact warheads lined up for decommissioning. For additional guidance, please see the endnotes below (Note: As estimates are updated, they may differ from the printed material below).
ONEWarheads in the "military reservoir" are defined as warheads held by the military and intended for use by the armed forces.
and"Total inventory" counts warheads in the military inventory, as well as retired but intact warheads awaiting dismantlement.
doThis number is higher than the data added belowNew START conditionbecause this table also counts bomber weapons at deployed bomber bases.The detailed description of the Russian troops as of 2022 is here. Numbers have been updated for later changes.
EyAll are said to be in central storage, although some storage locations may be close to bases with task forces. Many retired non-strategic warheads are believed to be awaiting dismantlement.
metroIt contains approximately 999 strategic warheads and 1816 non-strategic warheads.
comerIn addition to the 4,489 warheads in the military arsenal, approximately 1,400 retired warheads are believed to be awaiting dismantlement. Public details are scant, but we estimate that Russia dismantles between 200 and 300 retired nuclear warheads annually. The future of the size of Russian reserves is debated: US Strategic Command and part of the intelligence communityrequirement"Russia's total nuclear arsenal is likely to grow significantly over the next decade, growth driven primarily by an expected increase in Russia's non-strategic nuclear arsenal." Others personally disagree. A big uncertainty is how many tactical weapons will be replaced by new nuclear versions versus conventional weapons.See the summary of the Russian armed forces as of 2022 here.
GRAMSThis figure is higher than the aggregate data published in itNew START databecause this table also counts bomber weapons at deployed bomber bases.A detailed overview of the US Military in 2023 can be found here.
HAround 100 B61 bombs are deployed in Europe at six bases in five countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey).
IThe unused stockpile includes approximately 1,670 strategic and 100 non-strategic nuclear warheads in central storage.
jthe united states governmentdeclaredin March 2018 that as of September 2017 the arsenal included 3,822 nuclear warheads.The Trump administration has decidedto stop making the numbers public. In 2021, the Biden administrationdisqualifiedthe number of heads in the inventory and the number of heads that had been removed, noting that as of September 2020 the inventory consisted of 3,750 heads. Since then, additional warheads have been decommissioned for an estimated stockpile of approximately 3,700 warheads.
kIn addition to the approximately 3,700 warheads in the military arsenal and approximately 1,500 decommissioned warheads awaiting decommissioning, there are approximately 20,000 plutonium cores (wells) and approximately 4,000 canned (secondary) assemblies of decommissioned warheads in Texas and at the Pantex plant. in Texas. 12 plants in Tennessee. For a detailed overview of the US Military in 2023,look here.
IWeapons for France's only aircraft carrier are not deployed to the ship under normal circumstances, but this can be done at short notice. The warheads of some anti-submarine missiles have been reduced to increase targeting flexibility. For a detailed description of the French nuclear forces,look here).
METROThe supply from China is increasing and in 2022 the US Department of Defense.supposedthat by 2030 China's nuclear arsenal "will have about 1,000 operational warheads." Some of this growth is already underway and our estimate includes some. However, these claims depend on many uncertain factors, including how many missile silos will be built, how many warheads each missile will carry, and assumptions about China's future fissile material output. None of the heads are believed to be fully grown, but they are stored under central control. China views all of its nuclear weapons as strategic, but the US military views intermediate and intermediate-range missiles as non-strategic. The detailed description of the Chinese nuclear forces by 2023 ishere.
norteThe number of British warheads on each submarine was reduced from 48 to 40. This reduced the number of "operationally available" warheads from 160 to 120. The plan was to reduce reserves to "no more than 180". but the Johnson administrationannounced in 2021that would increase the stock to "no more than 260 head".Detailed description of the UK's nuclear forces here.
HEWhile Israel has produced enough plutonium for 100-200 warheads, the number of delivery platforms and US intelligence estimates indicate that the stockpile could include around 90 warheads.Detailed summary 2021 here.
PiThe estimate of the number of Pakistan's nuclear warheads is highly uncertain, as neither the Pakistani nor the Western governments provide public information. None of Pakistan's nuclear warheads are believed to be missile-related, but they are centrally stored, most of them in the south of the country. There are more heads in production.Detailed summary 2021 here.
qThe estimate of the number of Indian nuclear warheads carries a great deal of uncertainty because neither the Indian nor the Western governments provide public information. Despite efforts to increase readiness, we estimate that India's warheads are not attached to missiles, but centrally stored. Bomber weapons could probably be developed in a relatively short time. There are more heads in production.Detailed summary 2022 here.
RAfter six nuclear tests, including two of 10 to 20 kilotons and one of more than 150 kilotons, we estimate that North Korea may have produced enough fissile material for 50 to 70 warheads. The number of assembled heads is unknown, but fewer. We estimate that North Korea has around 30 assembled warheads for short- and medium-range missiles, though that number is certainly growing.Detailed summary 2022 here.
littleFigures may be inaccurate due to rounding and uncertainty about the operational status of the four smallest nuclear weapon states and uncertainty about the size of the total reserves of three of the original five nuclear powers.
For historical context, the number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined significantly since the Cold War: from a peak of around 70,300 in 1986 to around 12,500 in early 2023. Government officials often attribute this achievement to result of current or recent gun control. offers, but in fact the vast majority of the decline took place in the 1990s. Some also compare today's numbers to those of the 1950s, but that's comparing apples to oranges. today's armed forces are much more capable.
The rate of reduction has slowed down significantly compared to the 1990s and seems to continue only due to decommissioning of decommissioned weapons. The trend is for military stocks (usable nuclear weapons) to rise again.
Estimated world stocks of nuclear warheads
Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, and Eliana Reynolds, Federation of American Scientists, 2023
Instead of planning for nuclear disarmament, the nuclear weapon states appear to be planning to maintain large arsenals indefinitely. As such, they are contrary to the purpose and spirit of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
All continue to modernize their remaining nuclear forces at a significant rate, several are adding new types and/or increasing their role in national strategy and public statements, and all appear committed to retaining nuclear weapons indefinitely.
For an overview of global modernization programs, see our contributions toSIPRI YearbookyObservatory for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Individual country profiles are available atFAS Nuclear Notebook.
The information available for each country varies widely, from the most transparent nuclear weapons state (the United States) to the most opaque (Israel). Consequently, while the US reserve estimate is based on "real" numbers, the estimates of many other nuclear weapon states are highly uncertain.
These nuclear weapons estimates were made by Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, and Eliana Reynolds of the Federation of American Scientists. His work builds on the pioneering achievements of analysts Thomas Cochran, Robert Norris and Willian Arkin, without whom this public service would not be possible.
This work was made possible by grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Future of Life Institute, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Longview Philanthropy, New-Land Foundation, Prospect Hill Foundation, Stewart R. Mott Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, and individual donors. The statements and opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the authors.
State of the World Nuclear Forces - Federation of American Scientists? ›
As of 2023, there were estimated to be approximately 4,223 nuclear warheads belonging to three NATO allies, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The majority of these belonged to the United States, which had 3,708 nuclear warheads.How many nukes does usa have 2023? ›
As of 2023, there were estimated to be approximately 4,223 nuclear warheads belonging to three NATO allies, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The majority of these belonged to the United States, which had 3,708 nuclear warheads.Where are the US nukes? ›
Today, U.S. tactical nuclear weapons remain at six bases in five NATO member countries, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.Which country has the most powerful weapons in the world? ›
Russia Has The Most Nuclear Weapons In The World—Here Are The Other Countries With The Largest Nuclear Arsenals.How many nukes are in the world? ›
Despite progress in reducing nuclear weapon arsenals since the Cold War, the world's combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: nine countries possessed roughly 12,500 warheads as of early-2023.Which country has the most powerful weapons in the world 2023? ›
Russia has the most confirmed nuclear weapons, with 5,997 nuclear warheads.How many nukes does Mexico have? ›
|Country||Nuclear Weapon Possession|
A nuclear attack on US soil would most likely target one of six cities: New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington, DC.Where would a nuke most likely hit in the US? ›
Areas of rural Idaho, Maine, Northern California, as well as Oregon may be more improbable targets. The US has placed its nuclear forces away from areas with high populations. Intercontinental ballistic missile silos (ICBMs), military bases, and nuclear storage are spread out across the US.Does the US have secret weapons? ›
The U.S. military already has several rudimentary anti-space weapons. The U.S. Navy, for instance, has the SM-3, a missile originally designed to shoot down incoming ballistic missile warheads. Ballistic missile warheads briefly travel the same general route as satellites in low-Earth orbit.
How long would it take a nuke to reach the US from Russia? ›
It would take a land- based missile about 30 minutes to fly between Russia and the United States; a submarine-based missile could strike in as little as 10 to 15 minutes after launch.Which country has the best advanced weapons? ›
The country with the most advanced military technology is the United States of America (USA). Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom are the other countries with the most advanced military technology in the world.Which is the No 1 weapon in the world? ›
Of course, nuclear weapons surpass all other weapons made to date, because they have enormous destructive power and can cut down an entire city and a large part of the population, and radiation after a nuclear attack would be present for decades.Where in the US would Russia nuke? ›
A Russian nuclear attack would likely focus on high-value targets in North Dakota or Montana.How much can one nuclear bomb destroy? ›
A single nuclear weapon can destroy a city and kill most of its people. Several nuclear explosions over modern cities would kill tens of millions of people. Casualties from a major nuclear war between the US and Russia would reach hundreds of millions.Which country has the best missile technology in the world? ›
The most powerful Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) developed in China is The DF-41 which is one of the deadliest ICBMs in the world. Based on an 8-axle launcher vehicle its first test launch took place in 2013 and the second followed in 2014.Which country has the best ammunition? ›
|Total tests||1,054 detonations|
|Peak stockpile||31,255 warheads (1967)|
|Current stockpile||3,708 (2023)|
|Maximum missile range||ICBM: 15,000 km (9,321 mi) SLBM: 12,000 km (7,456 mi)|
According to Statista, “There were approximately 13,080 nuclear warheads worldwide as of January 2021, and almost 90 per cent of them belong to two countries: the United States and Russia.”Does Canada have any nuclear weapons? ›
Canada does not have nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons or relevant delivery systems, and is a member in good standing of all relevant nonproliferation treaties and regimes.
How many missing nukes does the US have? ›
FARO, Wayne County — United States military leaders have admitted to losing six nuclear weapons since 1950. Unsealed documents show one is in the Mediterranean Sea, two are in the Pacific Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean and one is in Eastern North Carolina.Has Canada ever had nuclear weapons? ›
From 1963 to 1984, Canada fielded a total of four tactical nuclear weapons systems which deployed several hundred nuclear warheads. Throughout the Cold War, Canada was closely aligned with defensive elements of United States programs in both NORAD and NATO.Where is the safest place in US during nuclear war? ›
Some estimates name Maine, Oregon, Northern California, and Western Texas as some of the safest locales in the case of nuclear war, due to their lack of large urban centers and nuclear power plants.What is the safest country from nuclear war? ›
The study involved looking at abrupt sunlight-reducing situations. Scientists have recently revealed that Australia and New Zealand are best placed to survive a nuclear apocalypse and help reboot collapsed human civilisation.Where is the safest place to live in a nuclear war? ›
The Smart Survivalist named the Nordic country as the safest place in the event of a nuclear war. “Because Iceland is isolated from the rest of the world by the North Atlantic Ocean, it would be very difficult for a nuclear missile to reach Iceland without being detected first,” it said.Can the US shoot down nukes? ›
At present, because its inventory of interceptors is limited, the United States can shoot down only a handful of ballistic missiles that have relatively unsophisticated countermeasures.How far away from a nuke is safe? ›
The resulting inferno, and the blast wave that follows, instantly kill people directly in their path. But a new study finds that some people two to seven miles away could survive—if they're lucky enough to find just the right kind of shelter.Where in us would be nuked first? ›
The cities that would most likely be attacked are Washington, New York City and Los Angeles. Using a van or SUV, the device could easily be delivered to the heart of a city and detonated. The effects and response planning from a nuclear blast are determined using statics from Washington, the most likely target.What are rods of God? ›
The “rods from God” idea was a bundle of telephone-pole sized (20 feet long, one foot in diameter) tungsten rods, dropped from orbit, reaching a speed of up to ten times the speed of sound.Does the US have laser weapons? ›
Different U.S. military branches have tested a range of directed-energy weapons. For example, the Air Force has developed a high-energy laser than can be affixed to aircraft, while the Navy has tested lasers to disrupt drones and small boats.
Who is more powerful Russia or USA? ›
In short, Russia is ranked 2nd out of 140 in military strength while the US is ranked 1st. As per the army population, Russia has 142,320,790 soldiers while The US has 334,998,398 soldiers. The available manpower is 69,737,187 with Russia and 147,399,295 with the United States.How much warning time for a nuke? ›
First 45 minutes: Seek shelter indoors away from windows
Survivors of a nuclear attack would have about 15 minutes before sandlike radioactive particles, known as nuclear fallout, reached the ground. Exposure to fallout can result in radiation poisoning, which can damage the body's cells and prove fatal.
|Mass||27,000 kg (60,000 lb)|
|Length||8 m (26 ft)|
|Diameter||2.1 m (6 ft 11 in)|
|Detonation mechanism||Barometric sensor|
The explosive yield of Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, was equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT; the Russian RS-28 Sarmat (called Satan 2 by NATO) ICBM was designed to deliver a payload 2,000 times more powerful than Little Boy.
So, it seems clear that military technology is at least ten years ahead of what we know about in the public domain. However, military tech isn't actually any more advanced than commercial tech, which is developed over several years in secrecy too.What is the most feared military weapon? ›
Created in the manic arms race of the Cold War, the B-41 hydrogen bomb is the deadliest weapon on this list. The bomb has never been used in warfare but is capable of destruction on a colossal scale.What is the most powerful bullet in the world? ›
The . 500 S&W Magnum is considered the most powerful commercial sporting handgun cartridge by virtue of the muzzle energy it can generate.How big is the chance of nuclear war? ›
A 1% chance of nuclear war in the next 40 years becomes 99% after 8,000 years. Sooner or later, the odds will turn against us. Even if we cut the risks by half every year, we can never get to zero.What will the doomsday clock be in 2023? ›
The "Doomsday Clock," created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to illustrate how close humanity has come to the end of the world, moved its "time" in 2023 to 90 seconds to midnight, 10 seconds closer than it has been for the past three years. Midnight on this clock marks the theoretical point of annihilation.What would happen if Russia and the US went to war? ›
It would exceed the largest anomaly ever recorded since the beginning of Food and Agricultural Organization observational records in 1961. And under the largest war scenario – a war between the U.S. and Russia – more than 75% of the planet would be starving within two years.
What is the name of the bomb that can destroy the world? ›
Russia's Tsar bomba: World's most powerful nuclear weapon of mass destruction.How long does radiation last after a nuke? ›
Radiation levels are extremely dangerous immediately after a nuclear detonation, but the levels reduce rapidly, in just hours to a few days. This is when it will be safest to leave your shelter and participate in an orderly evacuation.How long would the Earth take to recover from nuclear war? ›
This is a true nuclear winter. Nor is it just a short blip. Temperatures still drop below freezing in summer for several years thereafter, and global precipitation falls by half by years three and four. It takes over a decade for anything like climatic normality to return to the planet.What is the most feared missile in the world? ›
Among these mighty weapons, five are considered the most potent of all, the “Trident II,” RS-24 “Yars,” LGM-30G “Minuteman III,” Dongfeng-41, and RS-28 “Sarmat.” These intercontinental ballistic missiles were developed by different countries and are considered some of the most effective and destructive weapons.Who has the deadliest missiles in the world? ›
DF-41-This is China's most deadly intercontinental ballistic missile. In fact, it is one of the world's deadliest.Which country has best Defence system? ›
United States. The United States of America is a North American nation that is the world's most dominant economic and military power.How many nukes does China have 2023? ›
We estimate that China's stockpile now includes roughly 410 nuclear warheads with more in production. The stockpile is expected to increase significantly in the next decade but remains significantly smaller than that of Russia or the United States.How many nuclear weapons are there in the world 2023? ›
In historical context, the number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined significantly since the Cold War: down from a peak of approximately 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 12,500 in early-2023.How many nukes does North Korea have 2023? ›
(For uranium weapons, each weapon is assumed to contain 20 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium.) An updated estimate of nuclear arsenal in 2023 has been made with range of between 35 to 65 nuclear warheads in North Korean inventory.How many nukes are needed to destroy the world? ›
As of 2019, there are 15,000 nuclear weapons on planet Earth. It would take just three nuclear warheads to destroy one of the 4,500 cities on Earth, meaning 13,500 bombs in total, which would leave 1,500 left.
What is the most advanced nuke in the world? ›
The Tsar Bomba yield was approximately 1,570 times more powerful than the yield of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, and 10 times more powerful than all of the conventional weapons exploded during World War II.Does Mexico have nuclear weapons? ›
Mexico is one of few countries possessing the technical capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. However, it has renounced them and has pledged to only use its nuclear technology for peaceful purposes following the Treaty of Tlatelolco in 1967.What is China's most powerful weapon? ›
China Built a Hypersonic Generator That Could Power Unimaginable Weapons. You have our attention. Turning gas into plasma creates an intense electrical current for powering potent hypersonic weapons. Chinese researchers built a hypersonic generator that could power military lasers, rail guns, and microwave weapons.How many nukes does the US have ready to go? ›
At the beginning of 2023, the US Department of Defense maintained an estimated stockpile of approximately 3,708 nuclear warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles and aircraft. Most of the warheads in the stockpile are not deployed but rather stored for potential upload onto missiles and aircraft as necessary.How powerful are modern nukes? ›
Modern strategic nuclear weapons have enormous power. Standard ones can have yields of 500 kilotons, 800 kilotons and even 1 megaton — equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT.Which country has hydrogen bomb? ›
The U.S.S.R. first tested a hydrogen bomb on August 12, 1953, followed by the United Kingdom in May 1957, China (1967), and France (1968). In 1998 India tested a “thermonuclear device,” which was believed to be a hydrogen bomb.How far can modern nukes reach? ›
The air blast from a 1 KT detonation could cause 50% mortality from flying glass shards, to individuals within an approximate radius of 300 yards (275 m). This radius increases to approximately 0.3 miles (590 m) for a 10 KT detonation.How long would it take a nuclear missile to reach the US from North Korea? ›
According to the Chinese study, a North Korean missile could reach the US in 33 minutes if the US fails to intercept it.Does Israel have nuclear weapons? ›
Israel is believed to have nuclear second strike abilities in the form of its submarine fleet and its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that are understood to be buried deeply enough that they would survive a pre-emptive nuclear strike.