US nuclear forces, 2011

By Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris | March 1, 2011

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does the United State have?

The US nuclear arsenal continues to decline, but more slowly than one might think, given the president’s stated commitment to disarmament. Moreover, during its first two years in office, the Obama administration has increased funding for nuclear weapons and pledged to modernize the nuclear arsenal and production complex. As of January 2011, the United States maintained an estimated 2,150 operational warheads. The arsenal comprises roughly 1,950 strategic warheads deployed on 798 strategic delivery vehicles, and up to 200 nonstrategic warheads deployed in Europe. In addition, the United States holds approximately 2,850 warheads in reserve, for a total stockpile of about 5,000 warheads. Several thousand other warheads, probably around 3,500, have been retired from the military stockpile and await dismantlement (see Table 2, on page 74).

Following the Obama administration’s unprecedented May 2010 disclosure of stockpiled and dismantled warhead numbers through September 2009, the administration returned to the earlier policy of secrecy by declining to disclose numbers for September 2010 (Defense Department, 2010b, 2010c). The transparency was a “one-time release,” according to one official. The administration has also declined to specify the number of warheads awaiting dismantlement…

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The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists and Robert S. Norris, a senior fellow with the FAS. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.

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