Russian nuclear forces, 2016

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear warheads 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 underway for many years, some developments are new. The modernizations, combined with an increased number of military exercises and operations, as well as occasional explicit nuclear threats against other countries, contribute to growing concern about Russian intentions and, in turn, help justify nuclear modernization programs and political opposition to reductions in other nuclear weapon states.

As of early 2016, we estimate that Russia has a stockpile of approximately 4500 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, roughly 1800 strategic warheads are deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. Another 700 strategic warheads are in storage along with nearly 2000 nonstrategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number – perhaps 2800 – of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement,1 for a total inventory of 7300 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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