Nuclear Disarmament United States

NPT Nuclear Weapons State

Arsenal Size

Total Stockpile


M-388 Davy Crockett nuclear weapon mounted to a recoilless rifle, WikimediaCommons.org

  • Approximately 4,670 warheads (military stockpile) [1]
  • Active or operational warheads: 1,930 (1,750 strategic, 180 non-strategic warheads deployed in Europe) [2]
  • Warheads in storage (hedge against technical or geopolitical surprises): Approximately 2,740 [3]
  • Retired intact warheads awaiting dismantlement: Approximately 2,300 [4]
  • Total inventory: Approximately 6,970 [5]

Key Weapon Systems

Strategic
  • 440 ICBMs (Minuteman III/ MK 12 A, MK 21/SERV) [6]
  • 288 SLBMs (Trident II D5/ MK-4, MK-4A, MK-5) [7]
  • 113 Strategic bombers (B-52H Stratofortress, B2A Spirit) [8]
Non-strategic
  • 500 B61 bombs [9]

Estimated Destructive Force

  • Operational warheads: approximately 570 megatons [10]

Military Fissile Material Stockpile


U.S. W78 warheads inside MK12A re-entry vehicles on a LGM-30 Minuteman III bus next to the shroud, WikimediaCommons.org

Disarmament and Commitments to Reduce Arsenal Size

  • Legal obligation to pursue global disarmament under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). [13]
  • Under the New START treaty that entered into force on 5 February 2011, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their deployed strategic warheads to no more than 1,550 each; to deploy no more than 700 ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers; and to limit ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers to no more than 800 whether deployed or not. [14] As a result of these reductions, the United States currently has its smallest nuclear stockpile since 1956. [15]
  • Under the New START treaty, the United States has reportedly reduced its arsenal by 263 strategic warheads and 120 launchers. It has reduced deployed nuclear forces, including eight ICBMs and three bombers. The Air Force has begun destroying empty ICBM silos, and the Navy is decreasing the number of missile tubes on its SSBNs. [16]
  • Dismantled 10,251 nuclear warheads from FY 1994 through 2014. [17]
  • Reduced by 85% the largest U.S. stockpile of 31,255 warheads in 1967 to the current stockpile of 4,760 operational and reserved warheads. [18]
  • Dismantled more than 13,000 warheads since 1988. [19]
  • Reduced operationally-deployed strategic nuclear weapons from approximately 10,000 in 1991 to 1,930 as of 2016. [20]
  • Unilaterally reduced non-strategic warheads by 90% from 1967 to 2009. [21]
  • Eliminated more than 1,000 launchers for strategic ballistic missiles, 350 heavy bombers and 28 ballistic missile submarines. [22]
  • Completed the downloading of its ICBM force to single warhead configuration in June 2014. [23]
  • Completed W79 Artillery-Fired Atomic Projectile dismantlement in 2003. [24]
  • Completed W56 warhead dismantlement in 2006. [25]
  • Removed 374 tons of highly enriched uranium and almost 61.5 tons of plutonium from the weapons inventory. [26] Down-blended 146 metric tons of the removed highly enriched uranium thus far. Removed 61.5 metric tons from use in nuclear warheads in 1994 and 2007. [27]
  • U.S. and Russia brought the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement into force on 11 July 2011, requiring each country to eliminate 34 metric tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium. [28]
  • Completed retirement of remaining nuclear Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles (TLAM/Ns) and their W80-0 warheads. The U.S. inventory of nonstrategic nuclear weapons now includes only B61 gravity bombs. [29]
Future Commitments
  • Washington has expressed support for a nuclear-free world, but has also committed to maintaining an arsenal for deterrence and defense as long as nuclear weapons exist. [30]
  • The United States intends to pursue "up to a one-third reduction" in the deployed strategic warheads permitted under the New START treaty and seeks a reduction in non-strategic nuclear weapons. [31] The United States aims to complete some planned reductions by 2018. [32]
  • The United States Air Force plans to remove 50 Minuteman missiles from silos by 2018 in compliance with the New START treaty's limit on operational launchers. However, the United States will keep these missiles in storage with the potential to be reloaded. [33]
  • Under the New START treaty, the United States Air Force will pursue the elimination of 104 empty ICBM silos. These projects began in February 2014 with the final silo destructions planned for 2017. [34] The United States Air Force will also pursue the reduction of the ICBM force to 400 missiles by 2018. The missiles will be moved to storage rather than destroyed. [35]
  • The United States Navy intends to pursue the reduction of deployed SLBMs to 240 by 2018. In order to do this the United States plans to reduce the number of missile tubes on every nuclear missile submarine from 24 to 20 in 2015 and 2016. [36]
  • The United States aims to reduce its bomber force to 60 nuclear-capable aircraft by 2018. [37]
  • The United States is seeking a new treaty to verifiably end the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons. [38]
  • The United States plans to pursue discussions with Russia on reducing strategic, non-strategic, deployed, and non-deployed nuclear weapons. [39]
  • The P5 (NPT NWS) have been meeting annually since 2009 to review the progress toward the fulfillment of their NPT Article VI obligation of nuclear disarmament. [40]

Nuclear Weapons Policy

Nuclear Testing
  • Observed nuclear testing moratorium since 1992. [41]
  • Signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. [42]
  • Under the Obama Administration, pledged that the United States will pursue ratification of the CTBT. [43]
  • Signed the PTBT in 1963 (banning nuclear tests in atmosphere, outer space, and under water). [44]
Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • Will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against NPT Non-nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) that are in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. (2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review) [45]
  • Retains first-use option [46]
  • Provides Negative Security Assurances to NWFZ treaty members: Committed not to use nuclear weapons against members of Tlatelolco NWFZ. Promised to ratify protocols to Rarotonga and Pelindaba treaties. [47] Signed the protocol to the Central Asia NWFZ treaty in May 2014 and submitted it to the Senate for ratification in April 2015. [48] Submitted the protocol to the Rarotonga (South Pacific) and Pelindaba (Africa) treaties to the Senate for ratification in May 2011. [49]
  • Supports the establishment of a Middle East WMD-free zone as outlined in the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan. However, the United States did not agree to the proposed language about a regional conference to discuss such a zone. [50]
  • Acknowledged the commitments of the NWS to negative security assurances in UN Security Council Resolution 984 (1995). [51]

Sources:
[1] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 63-73, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
[2] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 63-73, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
[3] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 63-73, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
[4] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 63-73, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
[5] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 63-73, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
[6] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[7] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[8] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[9] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[10] Based on communication with Mr. Hans Kristensen. ICNND Report "Eliminating Nuclear Threats," says 647 megatons, www.icnnd.org.
[11] International Panel on Fissile Material, "Global Fissile Material Report 2015: Nuclear weapons and fissile material stockpiles and production," International Panel on Fissile Material, May 8, 2015, http://fissilematerials.org.
[12] International Panel on Fissile Material, "Global Fissile Material Report 2015: Nuclear weapons and fissile material stockpiles and production," International Panel on Fissile Material, May 8, 2015, http://fissilematerials.org.
[13] Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, U.S. Department of State, www.state.gov.
[14] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[15] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[16] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 63-73, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
[17] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[18] Fact Sheet Increasing Transparency in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, U.S. Department of Defense, www.defense.gov; Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[19] Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Promoting Disarmament, U.S. Department of State, www.state.gov.
[20] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "United States Nuclear Forces, 2016," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 72:2, 2016, www.thebulletin.org.
Note: the number of operational warheads in this statement is counted by New START standards, which count each bomber as one nuclear warhead although bombers can carry up to 20 warheads if loaded. Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Promoting Disarmament, Bureau of Public Affairs Fact Sheet, U.S. Department of State, March 25, 2011, www.state.gov; Hans M. Kristensen, "Second Batch of New START Data," Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, June 1, 2012, www.fas.org.
[21] Ambassador Laura Kennedy, U.S. Statement: Cluster 1, First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, May 3, 2012, www.vienna.usmission.gov.
[22] Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Promoting Disarmament, U.S. Department of State, www.state.gov.
[23] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[24] Bryan Wilkes, "NNSA Dismantles Last Nuclear Artillery Shell," National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, December 12, 2003, http://nnsa.energy.gov.
[25] Press Release "NNSA Dismantles Entire Stock of W56 Nuclear Weapons," National Nuclear Security Administration, June 29, 2006, www.nnsa.energy.gov.
[26] Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Promoting Disarmament, U.S. Department of State, www.state.gov.
[27] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[28] Ambassador Laura Kennedy, U.S. Statement: Cluster 1, First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, May 3, 2012, www.vienna.usmission.gov.
[29] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2014," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 70 (1), Jan/Feb 2014, http://thebulletin.org.
[30] Remarks by President Barack Obama, Prague, Czech Republic, April 5, 2009, www.whitehouse.gov.
[31] Remarks by President Obama, Berlin, Germany, June 19, 2013, www.whitehouse.gov.
[32] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[33] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[34] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[35] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[36] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[37] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 71 (2), March/April 2015, www.thebulletin.org.
[38] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[39] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[40] Rose Gottemoeller, "Moving the Prague Agenda Forward," Speech at the Arms Control Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., June 4, 2012, www.state.gov.
[41] "Nuclear Testing," Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), www.ctbto.org.
[42] "Status of Signature and Ratification," Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), www.ctbto.org.
[43] Remarks by President Barack Obama, Prague, Czech Republic, April 5, 2009, www.whitehouse.gov: "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[44] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[45] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[46] Nuclear Posture Review Report, U.S. Department of Defense, April 2010, www.defense.gov.
[47] "Security Assurances," Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood, United States Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament, May 6, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[48] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[49] "Security Assurances," Statement by Ambassador Robert A. Wood, United States Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament, May 6, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[50] "Report of the United States of America Pursuant to Actions 5, 20, 21 of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document," Report by the U.S. Delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, United States Department of State, April 27, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[51] International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program (IONP), "Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (NWFZ) Clearinghouse," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.

February 13, 2017
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The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.