Russian nuclear forces, 2013

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

Russia is in the middle of a comprehensive modernization of its nuclear forces that began more than a decade ago. The upgrade, which involves replacing all Soviet-era ballistic missiles with fewer improved missiles, is now approaching a point at which the number of modern weapons will shortly exceed the number of old ones. In a decade, virtually all of the Soviet-era weapons will be gone. This will leave in place a significantly smaller but effective force that will be more mobile than the one it replaces.

As of March 2013, we estimate that Russia has a military stockpile of approximately 4,500 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 1,800 strategic warheads are deployed on missiles and at bomber bases.1 Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage, along with 2,000 nonstrategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number—we estimate 4,000—of retired but still largely intact warheads await 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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