Russian nuclear forces, 2012

By Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris | March 1, 2012

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear bombs does Russia have?

At any given time, several of Russia’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) are in overhaul and do not carry their allocated missiles and warheads; likewise, under normal conditions, bombers are not loaded with nuclear weapons. Therefore, of Russia’s approximately 2,430 strategic offensive nuclear warheads, we estimate that nearly 1,490 are deployed on 434 operational ballistic missiles, with another 950 warheads assigned to SSBNs in overhaul and to 72 heavy bombers.

Russia also keeps an inventory of an estimated 2,000 nonstrategic warheads for potential use by ships, aircraft, and air defense forces. All are said to be in central storage. All combined, we estimate that Russia currently has approximately 4,430 nuclear weapons assigned to its armed forces. An additional 5,500 already retired strategic and nonstrategic warheads may be awaiting dismantlement, for a total inventory of nearly 10,000 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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