Nuclear Warheads: Total Count, by country
CountryNumber of nuclear warheads
Worldwide total12,512
USAUnited States of America5,244
U.K.United Kingdom225
North KoreaNorth Korea20
  • Region: Worldwide
  • Time period: as of Jan 2023
  • Published: Jun 2023

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Mar 27, 2024 | Published by: Statistico

Dominance of Russia and USA in nuclear arsenal

Russia and the USA together hold a combined total of 11,133 nuclear warheads, accounting for approximately 89% of the worldwide total. This vast majority underscores their dominance in global nuclear capabilities.

China's emerging nuclear arsenal

China has 410 nuclear warheads, positioning it significantly behind the USA and Russia, yet it is the third-largest nuclear power. This highlights China's growing strategic military capabilities on the global stage.

European nuclear forces: France and the United Kingdom

France and the United Kingdom together possess 515 nuclear warheads, representing around 4% of the global total. This illustrates their role as Europe's primary nuclear powers.

South Asia's nuclear competition

Pakistan and India have 170 and 164 nuclear warheads, respectively, showing a close nuclear arms race in South Asia. Their nearly equal numbers reflect the ongoing competition and tensions between these neighboring countries.

Israel and North Korea's nuclear capabilities

Israel and North Korea, with 90 and 20 nuclear warheads respectively, demonstrate the spread of nuclear capabilities to smaller or more isolated nations, contributing to global nuclear proliferation concerns.

Global nuclear arsenal totals

The worldwide total of nuclear warheads is 12,512, indicating a significant stockpile that poses challenges and responsibilities for global security and disarmament efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the combined total of nuclear warheads held by Russia and the USA?

Together, Russia and the USA hold a combined total of 11,133 nuclear warheads.

What is China's position in terms of nuclear power?

With 410 nuclear warheads, China is the third-largest nuclear power.

How many nuclear warheads do France and the United Kingdom possess together?

France and the United Kingdom together possess 515 nuclear warheads.

Terms and Definitions

A nuclear warhead is a type of weapon that uses nuclear reactions to generate destructive force. It can be launched from aircraft, submarines, surface ships, or even from ground installations. Upon detonation, these warheads release energy in the form of an intense light pulse, a shock wave, heat and deadly radiation.

An atomic bomb is a weapon that uses nuclear fission to release energy in a single, sudden burst. Atomic bombs were the first nuclear weapons to be developed and are the type that was used in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Also known as a thermonuclear bomb, a hydrogen bomb is a more advanced and powerful type of nuclear weapon. It uses nuclear fusion to release a substantial amount of energy. This process involves fusing isotopes of hydrogen, hence the name. It's significantly more powerful than atomic bombs, which rely solely on fission.

Nuclear stockpile refers to the collection of nuclear warheads that a country has stored. This includes weapons that are active and ready to use, those being held in reserve, and any weapon components that can be used to assemble additional warheads.

The nuclear arms race is a term used to describe the cold war competition between superpowers, specifically the US and the USSR, to build up the largest and most powerful arsenal of nuclear weapons. This period witnessed a rapid increase in the quantity and quality of nuclear weapons on a global scale.

Deterrence theory is the idea in international relations that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from starting a conflict, due to the mutual assured destruction that would result. In a nuclear context, it asserts that nuclear weapons provide strategic stability and prevent war through balance of power.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology while promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It acknowledges the right of all nations to access and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Decommissioning refers to the process of retiring a nuclear warhead from active service. This involves safely dismantling the warhead, disposing of any fissile material in a manner that it cannot be used for weapons again, and dealing with any radiological hazards.

Fissile materials are isotopes capable of sustaining a nuclear chain reaction. They are used as fuel in nuclear reactors and as the explosive material in nuclear weapons. Examples include Uranium-235, Uranium-233 and Plutonium-239.
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