Nuclear Weapons are not Going Away…3,970 Still Deployed

Thursday, June 19, 2014
B61 bombs (photo: U.S. Department of Defense)

More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the world’s leading powers continue not only to hold onto their nuclear weapon, but also modernize them in a sign that they will continue to be around for a long time to come.


Currently, there are nearly 4,000 nuclear weapons deployed throughout the world, ready for launch within minutes of receiving the “go” code.


Four countries control 3,970 of the weapons. The United States has 1,920, followed by Russia (1,600), the United Kingdom (160) and France (290), according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). If total warheads, rather than just deployed weapons, are counted there are 16,300, with the U.S. having 7,300 of them. The warhead total also includes those owned by China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.


SIPRI noted in its latest report on nuclear arms that the global total of these weapons has declined over the past five years, largely as a result of the U.S. and Russia cutting their arsenals under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).


But, at the same time, the U.S., Russia, China, France and the U.K. have either deployed new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced plans to do so, SIPRI says.

India and Pakistan are also continuing to develop new systems to deliver nuclear weapons, while North Korea has become the most recent member of the so-called “nuclear club” by building a small cache of “rudimentary nuclear explosive devices.”


“Once again this year, the nuclear weapon-possessing states took little action to indicate a genuine willingness to work toward complete dismantlement of their nuclear arsenals. The long term modernization programs under way in these states suggest their views that nuclear weapons will remain deeply embedded elements of their strategic calculus,” Shannon Kile and Phillip Patton Schell, researchers at SIPRI, said in a press release.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

16 June 2014: Nuclear Forces Reduced While Modernizations Continue, Says SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

GAO Audit Accuses Obama Administration of Lowballing Cost of Maintaining Nuclear Arsenal (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Administration Underestimated Cost of Maintaining Nuclear Weapons by $140 Billion (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)


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