The number of nuclear weapons in the world plunged from roughly 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 14,900. That’s good news.
The bad news is that the nuclear weapons now are more devastating then they have ever been, and Russia now has more nuclear warheads than any country on earth, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the World Nuclear Forces overview in the SIPRI Yearbook.
9,400 warheads are in military stockpiles; 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert.
Roughly 93% of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States; Russia has a military stockpile of 4,300 warheads; the U.S. has 4,000. Warheads deployed on intercontinental missiles and at heavy bomber bases number roughly 2,000 in Russia, in the U.S., roughly 1,600. Warheads deployed on bases with operational short-range delivery systems? Russia has none; (all are declared to be in central storage), the U.S., 150. Warheads not deployed on launchers and in storage; each side has roughly 2,300.
As Business Insider reported in September:
Russia’s RS-24 Yars Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), introduced in the mid 2000s, can strike anywhere in the US with what some report to be ten independently targetable nuclear warheads.
These ten warheads would reenter the earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, around 5 miles a second. China has developed a similar platform, and the US simply has no way to defend against a salvo of such devastating nukes.
In comparison, the US’s Minuteman III ICBM also reenters the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, but carries just one warhead, and was introduced in the 1970s.