The independent resource on global security

10. World nuclear forces

Contents

Overview, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

I. United States nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

II. Russian nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

III. British nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

IV. French nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

V. Chinese nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

VI. Indian nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

VII. Pakistani nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

VIII. Israeli nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

IX. North Korean nuclear forces, Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda

X. Global stocks and production of fissile materials, 2021, Moritz Kütt, Zia Mian and Pavel Podvig, International Panel on Fissile Materials

 

Download the sample chapter on world nuclear forces (PDF).

At the start of 2022, nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea)—possessed approximately 12 705 nuclear weapons, of which 9440 were estimated to be in military stockpiles for potential use. About 3732 of these warheads were estimated to be deployed with operational forces, and around 2000 of these were kept in a state of high operational alert.

 

Nuclear arsenals

Overall, the number of nuclear warheads in the world continues to decline, but this is primarily due to Russia and the USA dismantling retired warheads. Global reductions of operational warheads appear to have stalled, and their numbers may be rising again. At the same time, both Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities.

 

The nuclear arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so. China is in the middle of a significant modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal, which appears to include the construction of over 300 new missile silos. India and Pakistan also seem to be increasing the size of their nuclear weapon inventories, while in 2021 the UK announced its intention to increase its nuclear stockpile.

 

North Korea’s military nuclear programme remains central to its national security strategy, although in 2021 it did not conduct any tests of nuclear weapons or long-range ballistic missile delivery systems. SIPRI estimates that North Korea has assembled up to 20 warheads, but that
it probably possessed sufficient fissile material for approximately 45–55 nuclear devices.

 

Global nuclear weapon inventories, January 2022

Global nuclear weapon inventories, January 2022
Note: The boundaries used in this map do not imply any endorsement or acceptance by SIPRI.

 

Low levels of transparency

The availability of reliable information on the status of the nuclear arsenals and capabilities of the nuclear-armed states varies considerably. The USA, the UK and France have declared some information. Russia refuses to publicly disclose the detailed breakdown of its strategic nuclear forces, even though it shares the information with the USA. China releases little information about force numbers or future development plans. The governments of India and Pakistan make statements about some of their missile tests but provide no information about the status or size of their arsenals. North Korea has acknowledged conducting nuclear weapon and missile tests but provides no information about the size of its nuclear arsenal. Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal. 

Matt Korda and Hans M. Kristensen
English