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8. World nuclear forces



In January 2009, eight states possessed a total of more than 23 300 nuclear weapons, including operational warheads, spares, those in both active and inactive storage, and intact warheads scheduled for dismantlement.

The five legally recognized nuclear weapon states, as defined by the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—China, France, Russia, the USA and the UK—are all either deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so in the future. At the same time, Russia and the USA are in the process of reducing their operational nuclear forces from cold war levels as a result of the 1991 START Treaty and the 2002 SORT Treaty. Russia and the USA have also announced their intention to negotiate a new agreement that would bring about deeper reductions.

India and Pakistan, which along with Israel are de facto nuclear weapon states outside the NPT, continue to develop new missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons and are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material. Israel appears to be waiting to assess how the situation with Iran’s nuclear programme develops. North Korea is believed to have produced enough plutonium to build a small number of nuclear warheads, although it is unclear whether it has manufactured an operational weapon.

Deployed warheads, January 2009



USA 2 202   500   2 702  
Russia 2 787   2 047   4 834  
UK 160   -   160  
France 300   -   300  
China 186   ..   186  
India -   -   60–70  
Pakistan -   -   60  
Israel -   -   80  
Total       8 392  

All estimates are approximate.

North Korea conducted nuclear test explosions in October 2006 and May 2009. It is not publicly known whether it has built nuclear weapons.


Shannon N. Kile (USA) is a Senior Researcher and Head of the Nuclear Weapons Project of the SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.

Vitaly Fedchenko (Russia) is a Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.

Hans M. Kristensen (Denmark) is Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).