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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.
The modernization of China’s land-based nuclear-capable missile force has progressed significantly over the past year, with Beijing fielding a new version of an existing nuclear missile and a new dual-capable missile. The country has also reorganized its nuclear missile command structure.
The US nuclear arsenal remained roughly unchanged in the last year, with the Defense Department maintaining an estimated stockpile of some 4,670 warheads to be delivered via ballistic missiles and aircraft. Most of these warheads are not deployed but stored, and many are destined to be retired.
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.