U.S. Nuclear Stockpile
January 2005, the United States' nuclear weapons stockpile included approximately
5,300 operational nuclear warheads, including 4,530 strategic and 780 non-strategic
warheads, according to Nuclear Notebook, a report prepared by Natural Resources
Defense Council senior analyst Robert Norris and his colleague Hans Kristensen.
An additional 5,000 warheads were inactive, according to Norris.
delivery systems in place to launch these weapons are 29 Intercontinental Ballistic
Missiles (ICBMs) with ranges greater than 3,400 miles and about 360 submarine-launched
ballistic missiles (SSBNs) carrying some 2,700 warheads. These weapons constitute
about 46 percent of the country's strategic weapons, according to Norris.
third weapons delivery system -- bombers -- included B-52s, designed to carry
a combination of cruise missiles, missiles that travel over ground, and gravity
bombs, bombs dropped from the air; and B-2s, which carry only bombs.
The stockpile of non-strategic nuclear weapons, those
that do not travel to hit their targets, contained about 1,100 B61 gravity bombs
and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (TLAM/Ns), according to Norris' report.
Most of these bombs remain in storage at the Kirtland and Nellis Air Force bases
in New Mexico and Nevada.
Though many of America's nuclear weapons are
stored in the United States and are not expected to be deployed, the country does
maintain a cache of SSBNs and B61 bombs on alert at airbases in several European
countries, the majority in high security vaults.
Russian officials have
complained that U.S. weapons housed in Europe pose a threat to their nuclear facilities.
NATO maintains that these weapons ensure security and help prevent war.
the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, large numbers
of weapons have been pulled back within the borders of Russia and the U.S.," Norris
told the Online NewsHour. "These last 480-500 are the last ones and what are they
doing there? They're left over from the Cold War, they still haven't been brought
back and they're a kind of provocation to the Russians."
has requested the reduction of 40 percent of the country's existing nuclear weapons
arsenal by 2012 in accordance with the May 2003 Strategic Offensive Reductions
Treaty (SORT), an agreement between the United States and Russia. The United States
is expected to have an overall stockpile of about 6,000 weapons by that time.
In the next decade, the Department of Energy plans to carry out "life extension
programs" on many of the remaining nuclear warheads, programs to modernize and
upgrade the weapons' original design.
The department has argued that a need
exists to develop and build a modern arsenal of nuclear weapons -- weapons for
a post-Cold War era -- capable of deterring modern threats.