Special Report

Countries That Control the World's Nuclear Weapons

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4. France
> Total nuclear warheads: 290
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: 280
> Number of stored warheads: 10
> Year of first test: 1960
> Defense budget (2020): $52.7 billion

France has 65 more nuclear warheads than Britain, not counting about 10 warheads that are spares or in maintenance, making it the fourth-largest nuclear power. Unlike the United Kingdom, which maintains only a submarine-based force, France can launch 50 nuclear weapons from its Rafale fighter jets by land or aircraft carrier. The rest of its nuclear warheads are submarine based. France’s nuclear arsenal of nearly 300 warheads has remained stable in recent years, the FAS notes.

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3. China
> Total nuclear warheads: 350
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: N/A
> Number of stored warheads: 350
> Year of first test: 1964
> Defense budget (2020): $252.3 billion

China is believed to have the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, but its estimated 350 weapons systems is a fraction of the nearly 12,000 nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia. But like Russia, China is modernizing its nuclear weapons systems to keep up with its competitors, including construction of new intercontinental missiles and missile silos. China’s stockpile is expected to increase significantly in the next decade, the FAS estimates.

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2. United States
> Total nuclear warheads: 5,428
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: 1,744
> Number of stored warheads: 1,964
> Year of first test: 1945
> Defense budget (2020): $778.2 billion

The United States is the oldest nuclear weapons country and the only one to have used nuclear bombs against another country. The oldest still active U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile was first deployed in 1961 and currently consist of 46 nuclear-capable B-52 bombers. The U.S. has deployed modern submarine-launched ballistic missiles since 2008. Of the near 1,800 deployed nuclear warheads, 400 are on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, roughly 1,000 are on submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 300 are at bomber bases in the U.S., and 100 tactical bombs are at European bases. The U.S. also retired 1,720 warheads.

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1. Russia
> Total nuclear warheads: 5,977
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: 1,588
> Number of stored warheads: 2,889
> Year of first test: 1949
> Defense budget (2020): $61.7 billion

The Russian Federation is the largest nuclear power, with the largest arsenal of nuclear warheads. Russia is wrapping up a decades-long modernization of its nuclear arsenal, replacing Soviet-era weapons. Last year, Russia deployed additional nuclear cruise missiles that can be fired from its Tupolev Tu-160 (aka Blackjack) strategic bombers. Of Russia’s 4,477 deployed and stored warheads, about 1,588 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases. Russia also retired 1,500 warheads, the FAS estimates.

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