Given current events, one might wonder about nuclear weapons by country… Who has them, and how many? Well, as the title reads, 90 percent of all nuclear warheads belong to Russia and the United States.
Data sourced from armscontrol.org, there are an estimated 13,000 nuclear warheads in the world as of the year 2021.
Nuclear Weapons By Country
The following nuclear warhead totals include the following…
Retired (intact, awaiting dismantlement), Military Strategic (nuclear warheads assigned for potential use), and Strategic Deployed (on missiles, bomber bases, etc.).
Warheads are counted using the provisions of the New START agreement, which was extended for 5 years in January 2021.
New START caps each country at 1,550 strategic deployed warheads and attributes one deployed warhead per deployed heavy bomber, no matter how many warheads each bomber carries.
Warheads on deployed ICBMs and SLBMs are counted by the number of re-entry vehicles on the missile. Each re-entry vehicle can carry one warhead.
Russia (6,257) 1,458 deployed ready-to-launch
1,458 strategic warheads deployed on 527 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs): 11
Russia leads the world with its new Hypersonic nuclear-capable missiles – 3M22 Zircon (Tsirkon). Speeds up to 6,670 mph.
United States (5,550) 1,389 deployed ready-to-launch
1,389 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 665 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
The United States also has an estimated 100 B-61 nuclear gravity bombs that are forward-deployed at six NATO bases in five European countries.
14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), armed with Trident II D5 SLBMs, form the sea-based leg of the U.S. strategic deterrent triad. Four of these vessels previously carried the Trident C-4 missiles. They have been retrofitted with the longer-range, more accurate D5. Assuming an average of twelve operational submarines with 24 launch tubes each and four warheads per missile, these boats carry roughly 1,152 warheads. However, given that normally only eight to ten of the Ohio-class submarines are deployed at one time, and that their launch tubes will be reduced from 24 to 20 in accordance with the requirements of the New START treaty, the actual number of warheads in the field is closer to 720.
While the U.S. is actively pursuing hypersonic weapon technology, such hypersonic weapons have not yet entered service with any U.S. military branches.
China has since accelerated its nuclear development, and the Defense Department estimates, as of 2021, that China may have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and 1,000 by 2030.
Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs): 4
Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs): 4
The United Kingdom possesses a total of four Vanguard-class Trident nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which together form its exclusively sea-based nuclear deterrent.
North Korea (50)
Nuclear Weapons by Country – Inventories Chart
Countries That Had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Weapons Programs at One Time:
- Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons following the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse, but returned them to Russia.
- South Africa secretly developed but subsequently dismantled its small number of nuclear warheads.
- Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program prior to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The U.S.-led March 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent capture of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein definitively ended his regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
- Libya voluntarily renounced its secret nuclear weapons efforts in December 2003.
- Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also shelved nuclear weapons programs.
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
However, will it be enough? For instance, one might consider the following… Putin is backed into a corner, so to speak. It reaches an extent such that he believes his country is a ‘goner’ anyway. So, he decides to take it all down. In other words, he decides that he’s not bluffing.
Current events (US/NATO – Russia) and reckless rhetoric of launching nuclear weapons. Not good. It’s happening on both sides. That is to say, it leads to furthering the risk of an exceedingly stupid thing. There are many reasons to exercise restraint of such statements. Above all, it keeps us alive another day… While I’m not supporting recent actions, I am not in favor of backing Putin into a corner. However, I do prefer some diplomacy. Do we really need to own the whole world anyway?
In conclusion, there sure seem to be enough nuclear weapons to destroy us all…
[ Read: United States Nuclear Targets Map ]