Russian nuclear forces, 2015

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear bombs does Russia have?

Russia is in the middle of a broad modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces. While much of this process continues well-known programs that have been under way for many years, some developments are new. Combined, the steps Moscow is taking contribute to growing concern in other countries about Russian intentions, and help justify nuclear modernization programs and political opposition to reductions in other nuclear weapon states.

As of early 2015, we estimate that Russia has a military stockpile of approximately 4,500 nuclear warheads, of which roughly 1,780 strategic warheads are deployed on missiles and at bomber bases.1 The number of deployed warheads is higher than the 1,600 we estimated in the Nuclear Notebook a year ago, mainly due to the operational deployment of the first Borey-class ballistic missile submarines. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with roughly 2,000 nonstrategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number—perhaps 3,200—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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