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7. World nuclear forces


I. Introduction

II. US nuclear forces

III. Russian nuclear forces

IV. British nuclear forces

V. French nuclear forces

VI. Chinese nuclear forces

VII. Indian nuclear forces

VIII. Pakistani nuclear forces

IX. Israeli nuclear forces

X. North Korea’s military nuclear capabilities

XI. Conclusions


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In January 2011 eight states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel—possessed more than 20 500 nuclear weapons, including operational weapons, spares, those in both active and inactive storage and intact weapons scheduled for dismantlement. Of this total figure, more than 5000 nuclear weapons are deployed and ready for use, including nearly 2000 that are kept in a state of high operational alert.


The five legally recognized nuclear weapon states, as defined by the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA—are either deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so; none appears to be prepared to give up its nuclear arsenals in the foreseeable future.


India and Pakistan, which along with Israel are de facto nuclear weapon states outside the NPT, continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons. They are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes. 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, but there is no public information to verify that it has operational nuclear weapons.


World nuclear forces, 2011

Country Deployed
USA 2 150    6 350    8 500   
Russia 2 427    8 570    11 000   
UK 160    65    225   
France 290   10    300   
China . .    200    240   
India . .    80–100    80–100   
Pakistan . .    90–110    90–110   
Israel . .    80    80   
Total 5 027    15 500    20 530  


All estimates are approximate and are as of January 2011.



Shannon N. Kile (United States) 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.


Dr Bharath Gopalaswamy (India) is a visiting scholar at the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict studies at Cornell University.


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

Shannon N. Kile