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The world’s nuclear weapons today

Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2017, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsHans M. Kristensen &Robert S. Norris, Pages 289-297, 31 Aug 2017

The authors estimate that as of mid-2017, there are nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, located at some 107 sites in 14 countries. Roughly, 9400 of these weapons are in military arsenals; the remaining weapons are retired and awaiting dismantlement. Nearly 4000 are operationally available, and some 1800 are on high alert and ready for use on short notice. This article reviews the locations of nuclear weapons in all nine nuclear-armed states, as well as those of US weapons deployed outside the United States.


We estimate that Russia stores nuclear weapons at 48 locations, by far the largest number of any nuclear-armed state. This is a significant reduction from the 100 sites it was using in the late 1990s, 250 in the mid-1990s, and 500 in 1991………

United States

The United States today stores nuclear weapons at 18 sites, including 12 sites in 11 US states and another six sites in five European countries……

Britain and France

London and Paris have reduced the size of their arsenals and limited where their weapons are deployed. Britain only has one type of nuclear weapon, the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). The missiles and associated warheads are located at two facilities in Scotland, although warheads are also serviced at two factories southwest of London.1010. For an overview of British nuclear forces, see Kristensen and Norris (2011Kristensen, H. M., and R. S.Norris2011. “British Nuclear Forces, 2011.” Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsSeptember. [Google Scholar]).View all notes

France has retained two types of nuclear weapons: SLBMs at a submarine base in Bretagne and air-to-surface missiles for land- and carrier-based aircraft. France also has a warhead production and maintenance complex at Valduc. We estimate that the French warheads are spread over seven locations.


Researching Chinese nuclear weapons storage is difficult given the almost complete official secrecy that surrounds China’s nuclear forces.1212. For an overview of Chinese nuclear forces, see Kristensen and Norris (2016bKristensen, H. M., and R. S.Norris2016b. “Chinese Nuclear Forces, 2016.” Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsJuly. doi:10.1080/00963402.2016.1194054?needAccess=true.[Crossref][PubMed][Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]).View all notesMoreover, as is the case with other nuclear-armed states, Western governments say very little about what they know……..

We cautiously estimate that China may have nuclear warheads at 12 facilities. Nearly all of China’s 270 nuclear warheads are concentrated in the central nuclear weapons storage site, known as 22 Base and located in the western part of Shaanxi province in central China.


Islamabad is quantitatively and qualitatively increasing its arsenal and deploying weapons at more sites, yet the locations are difficult to pinpoint. …..Pakistan has a rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal of 130–140 warheads and an increasing portfolio of delivery systems……..


As with Pakistan, we have found little reliable information that indicates where India’s 120–130 nuclear warheads are stored.1515. For an overview of India’s nuclear arsenal, see Kristensen and Norris (2017bKristensen, H. M., and R. S.Norris2017b. “Indian Nuclear Forces, 2017.” Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsJuly. doi:10.1080/00963402.2017.1337998?needAccess=true.[Crossref][Web of Science ®][Google Scholar]).View all notes Based on available unclassified sources and satellite imagery, we cautiously estimate that India stores nuclear weapons at at least five locations…….


Israel is a wild card because of the opacity of its nuclear weapons program. Like other nuclear-armed states, however, Israel has been modernizing its arsenal and probably also its storage facilities. …….


September 13, 2017 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war

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