How Many Nuclear Weapons Do the U.S. and Russia Have? Here’s What You Need to Know

The State Department published Thursday the aggregate number of nuclear arms and delivery systems believed to be in the hands of both the U.S. and Russia, the world’s leading nuclear powers.

The list was released in line with the terms of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) signed by former President Barack Obama and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. Their successors, President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have both advocated for improving and potentially expanding their respective nuclear arsenals.

Related: U.S. and Russia race to build nuclear weapons they can actually use against each other

Despite the mutual distrust between the two nations, both said earlier this month that the other was in compliance with the treaty, which mandated they reduce their deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 each, their deployed nuclear missile and bomber force to 700 each and their combined deployed and nondeployed nuclear launchers to 800 by February 5 of this year. The newly available figures confirmed this and showed Russia maintained a slight lead on its deployed nuclear might.

statedepartmentnucleararms The State Department released this table on its website on February 22 purporting to show the aggregate numbers of strategic offensive arms of the U.S. and Russia as of February 5. U.S. Department of State

The U.S. had a total of 652 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and heavy bombers, while Russia had 527. The U.S. possessed 1,350 nuclear warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers, while Russia possessed 1,444. Finally, the U.S. claimed 800 deployed and nondeployed nuclear launchers, while Russia was found to have 779.

New START replaced the historic START I, signed between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the latter’s final days, in 1991. About a month after being sworn in to office last year, Trump called New START “a one-sided deal” and said that, while he wished no country would have nuclear weapons, he would bring the U.S. to “the top of the pack” as long as they did.

Around that same time, Putin expressed similar ambitions toward improving his nuclear arsenal, and both men have planned vast upgrades to their nuclear triads of land-, air- and sea-based weapons. By the time New START was scheduled to expire, in 2021, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said last month, his country’s nuclear arsenal would be 90 percent modified.

RTX4PF7D A graphic published February 4 details U.S. nuclear power. President Donald Trump said in a Reuters interview one year earlier that he wanted to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States had fallen behind in its weapons capacity. Reuters

RTX3JK72 An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on August 2, 2017. The Minuteman comprises the land-based component of the U.S.’s nuclear triad. Air Force/Senior Airman Ian Dudley/REUTERS

Days before the New START deadline, the Trump administration released its debut Nuclear Posture Review, revealing controversial changes to the country’s policy on the use of weapons of mass destruction in combat. The document included potential nuclear responses to serious non-nuclear attacks, a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile and the development of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons that experts have warned may make their use in combat more likely.

The Federation of American Scientists, one of the leading groups providing appraisals of the world’s total nuclear stockpile estimated in its 2017 review that Russia possessed a total of 6,800 nuclear warheads, 4,300 of which were active and 1,710 of which were deployed. It also found the U.S. be in possession of 6,600 nuclear warheads, 4,000 of which were active and 1,800 of which were deployed.

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