More than a decade and a half after the Cold War ended, the world's combined stockpile of nuclear warheads remain at a very high level: more than 23,300.
Of these, more than 8,190 warheads are considered operational, of which approximately 2,200 U.S. and Russian warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.
The exact number of nuclear weapons in each country's possession is a closely held national secret. Despite this limitation, however, publicly available information and occasional leaks make it possible to make best estimates about the size and composition of the national nuclear weapon stockpiles:
Status of World Nuclear Forces 2009*
|United States||2,200||500c ||2,700d||9,400e|
* All numbers are estimates and further described in the Nuclear Notebook in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the nuclear appendix in the SIPRI Yearbook. Additional reports are published on the FAS Strategic Security Blog. Unlike those publications, this table is updated continuously as new information becomes available. Current update: April 2, 2009.
The information available for each country varies greatly, ranging from the most transparent nuclear weapons state (United States) to the most opaque (North Korea). Accordingly, while the stockpile for the United States is based on real numbers, the North Korean stockpile is highly uncertain. Indeed, although U.S. Intelligence claims that North Korea may have assembled a few nuclear weapons and North Korea claims to have some, no information is available in the public domain that proves that North Korea has assembled a nuclear weapons much less has an operational nuclear weapon.
Israel's Nuclear Weapons