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Status of World Nuclear Forces
(updated: January 3, 2008)

NOTE: As of January 2008, this page has moved to here. Updates will only be made at the new location.

More than a decade and a half after the Cold War ended, the world's combined stockpile of nuclear warheads remain at a very high level: more than 25,000. Of these, more than 10,000 warheads are considered operational, ready for use on short notice:

Status of World Nuclear Forces 2008a

Click on table to download PDF version of Status of World Nuclear Forces 2008

The exact number of nuclear weapons in each country's possession is a closely held national secret. Despite this limitation, publicly available information and occasional leaks make it possible to make best estimates about the size and composition of the national nuclear weapon stockpiles.


Click on figure to download PDF format of World Nuclear Stockpiles 2008

The information available for each country varies greatly, ranging from the most transparent nuclear weapons state (United States) to the most opaque (North Korea). Accordingly, while the stockpile for the United States is based on real numbers, the North Korean stockpile is highly uncertain. Indeed, although U.S. Intelligence claims that North Korea may have assembled a few nuclear weapons and North Korea claims to have some, no information is available in the public domain that proves that North Korea has assembled a nuclear weapons much less has an operational nuclear weapon.


Click on figure to download PDF format of Global Nuclear Stockpiles 1945-2008

To develop these arsenals, the nuclear powers have conducted over 2050 nuclear weapons tests since 1945. Historically, nuclear tests were primarily proof-tests to verify that a new weapon worked as designed. Some tests also served to check for potential defects in deployed weapon types. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to move nuclear tests underground in 1963, and since then other nations have gradually followed. The last atmospheric test was conducted by China in 1980. India and Pakistan in 1998 both announced that they had conducted five tests, but only three and two, respectively, were detected. North Korea announced on October 8, 2006, that it had conducted a nuclear test.


Click on figure to download PDF format of Worldwide Nuclear Tests 1945-2008

In-depth reports about specific aspects of the nuclear arsenals are publishes on the Federation of American Scientists' Strategic Security Blog.

Hans M. Kristensen/Federation of American Scientists | www.nukestrat.com | 2004-2008

see also:

Strategic Security Blog, Federation of American Scientists

Nuclear Notebook
(The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)

SIPRI Yearbook
(Swedish International Peace Research Institute)


See Newsweek/MSNBC use of information on interactive web site (July 2, 2007) [note: link may go dead over time]:


  Hans M. Kristensen