Nuclear Weapons FAQ

Understanding nuclear risks and solutions
More than two decades after the Cold War, nuclear weapons still threaten our nations and families. Ploughshares Fund and our partners work tirelessly to understand nuclear risks and develop solutions to prevent nuclear disasters. Here are some of the questions we often hear.

How many nuclear weapons are there in the world today?

There are an estimated 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world today, according to the best publicly available information. (Source)

How many nuclear weapons states are there?

Nine states possess nuclear weapons: United StatesRussiaFranceChinathe United KingdomPakistanIndiaIsrael, and North Korea.
The US and Russia own 94 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

What about Iran?

Iran does not have a nuclear weapon and does not have a nuclear weapons program, according to the US intelligence community. Iran has a nuclear energy program, established with the help of the United States under President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace Program in 1957. Iran’s nuclear weapons program ended in 2003, according to US intelligence assessments.

How many nuclear weapons does the US have?

The United States has a total of about 7,300 nuclear weapons. Of those, 4,600 are available for launch; 2,700 are retired and awaiting dismantlement. (Source)

Where does the US keep its nuclear weapons?

The US deploys nuclear weapons on submarines, land-based missiles, and bombers. Together these delivery systems are known as the nuclear triad.
The land-based missile silos are located in F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, and Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. Nuclear weapons assigned to bombers are located in Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and Minot Air Force Base and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. (For more on nuclear weapons and facilities in the US, check out this interactive map,  The Nuclear Bombs in Your Backyard, from Mother Jones).
90th Missile Maintenance Squadron - F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder / U.S. Air Force, 2014)

How much do nuclear weapons cost?

The US plans to spend about $1 trillion operating and updating its nuclear arsenal over the next thirty years, according to an analysis from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies funded by Ploughshares Fund. The bulk of that spending will come all at once, as construction for new bombers, submarines, and missiles ramps up.

How dangerous are nuclear weapons?

The smallest weapon in the US arsenal today is ten times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Many of the nuclear weapons in the US and Russian arsenals are still on high alert, which means they could be launched accidentally at a moment’s notice. A nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could cause a global famine, putting two billion people at risk. Terrorist organizations are targeting vulnerable nuclear sites in unstable regions.

What can we do to address nuclear threats?

Ploughshares Fund’s network of grantees work together to develop smart, effective strategies to reduce and eliminate existing nuclear stockpiles, prevent new nuclear states, promote stability in areas of conflict, and secure nuclear materials worldwide.

You can be a part of the solution too.

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By donating to Ploughshares Fund, 100% of your tax-deductible gift will be put to immediate use to support the smartest people with the best ideas for reducing and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons and preventing conflicts that could lead to their use.