Russian nuclear forces, 2011

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

On January 25, 2011, Russia ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States, recommitting itself to bilateral nuclear reductions. The treaty limits Russian (and US) deployed strategic nuclear warhead levels to 1,550 and deployed ballistic missiles and heavy bombers to 700 (combined), with a deadline of 2018. Yet Russia can be expected to maintain thousands of other non-deployed strategic and nonstrategic warheads, since New START does not place any limit on the total stockpile size, capping only the number of deployed strategic warheads allowed on long-range delivery vehicles (Kristensen, 2011).

We estimate that as of March 2011, Russia had approximately 2,430 nuclear warheads assigned to operational intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and heavy bombers. Russia also has a large inventory of 3,700-5,400 nonstrategic nuclear warheads, plus an additional 3,000 warheads awaiting dismantlement, for a total inventory of nearly 11,000 nuclear warheads…

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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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