The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
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Robert S. Norris
Robert S. Norris
Norris is a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC. A former senior research associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council, his principal areas of expertise include writing and research on all aspects of the nuclear weapons programs of the United States, the Soviet Union and Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China, as well as India, Pakistan, and Israel. He is the author of Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project’s Indispensable Man and co-author of Making the Russian Bomb: From Stalin to Yeltsin. He co-authored or contributed to the chapter on nuclear weapons in the 1985–2000 editions of the SIPRI Yearbook (Oxford University Press) and has co-authored Nuclear Notebook since 1987.
With several long-range ballistic missiles in development, the Indian nuclear posture is entering an important new phase. After nearly two decades of focusing on nuclear competition with Pakistan, New Delhi seems to now be paying attention to its future strategic relationship with China.
China is the only one of the five original nuclear weapon states that is quantitatively increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal and it now is estimated to have approximately 260 warheads. The arsenal’s capabilities are also increasing as older missiles are replaced with newer ones.
Russia is modernizing its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear warheads. It currently has 4,500 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 1,780 strategic warheads are deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with roughly 2,000 nonstrategic warheads.
As of early 2015, the authors estimate that the US Defense Department maintains about 4,760 nuclear warheads. Of this number, they estimate that approximately 2,080 warheads are deployed while 2,680 warheads are in storage.
Over 28 years of weapons analysis, the Nuclear Notebook column has revealed surprise nuclear activity and spot-on arsenal estimates while becoming a daily resource for scholars, activists, and journalists.
Although the Israeli government neither confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted by friend and foe alike that Israel is a nuclear-armed state—and has been so for nearly half a century.
As of mid-2014, the authors estimate that there are approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons located at some 98 sites in 14 countries. Roughly 10,000 of these weapons are in military arsenals; the remaining weapons are retired and awaiting dismantlement.
The nuclear-armed states have large residual nuclear arsenals, and post-Cold War reductions of nuclear weapons have slowed. Meanwhile, the nuclear nations have undertaken ambitious nuclear weapon modernization programs that threaten to prolong the nuclear era indefinitely.