November/December 2022Vol. XXXV No. 2

Estimated Global Nuclear Warhead Inventories, 2022

Despite progress in reducing nuclear weapon arsenals since the Cold War, the world’s combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: nine countries possessed roughly 12,700 warheads as of early-2022.

Approximately 90 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States, who each have around 4,000 warheads in their military stockpiles; no other nuclear-armed state sees a need for more than a few hundred nuclear weapons for national security.

Globally, the overall inventory of nuclear weapons is declining, but the pace of reductions is slowing compared with the past 30 years. Moreover, these reductions are happening only because the United States and Russia are still dismantling previously retired warheads.

In contrast to the overall inventory of nuclear weapons, the number of warheads in global military stockpiles – which comprises warheads assigned to operational forces – is increasing once again. The United States is still reducing its nuclear stockpile slowly. France and Israel have relatively stable inventories. But China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, as well as possibly Russia, are all thought to be increasing their stockpiles (see map).

Of the world’s 12,700 nuclear warheads, more than 9,400 are in the military stockpiles for use by missiles, aircraft, ships, and submarines. The remaining warheads have been retired but are still relatively intact and are awaiting dismantlement. Of the 9,440 warheads in the military stockpiles, some 3,730 are deployed with operational forces (on missiles or bomber bases). Of those, approximately 2,000 US, Russian, British, and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.

Source: Federation of American Scientists