Question: What is the relationship of the numbers 23,360, 111 and 14?
Answer: "There are approximately 23,360 nuclear weapons located at some 111 sites in 14 countries. Nearly half these weapons are active or operationally deployed" (Nuclear Notebook: Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2009).
That's the news from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in its most recent look at where the weapons are. The good news here is that there are fewer weapons than at the height of the Cold War, and the number of sites hosting nuclear weapons has decreased. The bad news is that there are still far too many nuclear weapons out there in far too many places, and the U.S. and Russia have 96 percent of the global inventory (only 91 percent if you're talking about deployed weapons). Here is the breakdown by country (from the Bulletin's report):
- Russia 13,000*
- United States 9,400**
- France 300
- China 240
- Britain 180
- Israel 80–100
- Pakistan 70–90
- India 60–80
- North Korea ?
warheads is unclear. Some portion may be in reserve with the balance retired and awaiting dismantlement.
** Approximately 5,200 of the U.S. warheads are in the military stockpile (about 2,700 deployed); 4,200 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement.
While it's easy to get bogged down in the numbers, it is safe to say that every nuclear weapon eliminated from any nation's arsenal is one less weapon to worry about. It is also obvious that the two major nuclear powers must reduce their arsenals (both deployed and those in storage) NOW to levels significantly below the current numbers if other nations are to take seriously the upcoming Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
Send a message to President Obama today telling him to take bold action and initiate deep cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal along with other important steps to send a clear message that the U.S. is serious about bringing us closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.
Reference: Robert S. Norris & Hans M. Kristensen, “Nuclear Notebook: Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2009,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2009, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 86–98.