Nuclear Warheads and Modernising Arsenals

The 2019 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) makes the following observations:

  • The worldwide total of nuclear warheads has decreased since 2018 and the countries are modernising their nuclear arsenals.
  • Nine nuclear-armed countries (including India) had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons at the start of 2019, which is a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons from 14,465 at the start of 2018. (Numbers exclude North Korea).

  • 3,750 Of the 13,865 nuclear weapons were deployed with operational forces and 2,000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert.
  • The reduction was largely attributed to the decrease mainly in Russia and the US which together account for over 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons. Both of them are reducing their strategic nuclear forces pursuant to the implementation of the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) and also making unilateral reductions.

The report has also separately counted deployed warheads (warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces) and other warheads (stored or reserve warheads and retired warheads awaiting dismantlement).


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