The exact number of nuclear weapons in global arsenals is not known. With little exception, each of the nine countries with nuclear weapons guards these numbers as closely held national secrets. What is known, however, is that more than a decade and a half after the Cold War ended, the world’s combined stockpile of nuclear warheads remain at unacceptably high levels.
Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists are the leading experts in estimating the size of global nuclear weapons inventories. The table is a compilation of their estimates and analyses, with links to their full reports. These reports are published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and discussed further at the FAS Strategic Security Blog.
As the authors of these estimates note, the above numbers may not add up due to rounding and uncertainty about the operational statuses and size of the total inventories. For a full analysis of how the authors arrived at their estimates, please view the provided links for the complete reports.
These huge stockpiles come at great financial cost to the countries that keep nuclear weapons. Even in the U.S., these costs area difficult to determine but, through careful analysis, Ploughshares Fund has released our best estimate of just how much nuclear weapons will cost the U.S. over the next ten years… MORE