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Dublin: 13 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Russia and US now have 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons

Russia has more more nuclear weapons than any other country in the world, just surpassing the tally of the United States.

An intercontinental ballistic missile on a truck is seen at Moscow's Red Square during the annual Victory Day parade earlier this year
An intercontinental ballistic missile on a truck is seen at Moscow's Red Square during the annual Victory Day parade earlier this year
Image: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

RUSSIA AND THE United States together hold about 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, with Russia’s total inventory of 8,500 warheads slightly surpassing that of 7,700 in the US, according to the latest available figures.

Russia has about 4,500 nuclear warheads in the military stockpile and about 4,000 retired but largely intact warheads that await dismantlement, according to the May/June 2013 report by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published in the United States.

A total of 1,800 strategic warheads are on missiles and at bomber bases; 700 strategic warheads are in storage; and 2,000 non-strategic warheads are in storage.

Intercontinental ballistic missiles:

Russia deploys 326 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with about 1,050 warheads. This force is scheduled to change as Russia plans to retire over half of its ICBM force, mainly the 140 SS-25 missiles, also known as Topol, made in the late 1980s.

Submarine launched ballistic warheads:

Russia has a total of 624 submarine launched ballistic warheads and deploys 160 missiles on ten submarines in the Russian fleet.

This year a new Borei-class ballistic missile submarine entered into service in the Russian Navy’s Northern fleet, putting the total number of ballistic missile submarines in the Russian navy to ten. They carry a total of 160 missiles with up to 624 warheads.

Bombers:

The strategic offensive forces also include warheads on 72 Tupolev heavy bombers that could carry an estimated 810 weapons. However this figure has not been officially updated since 2009.

Russia’s tactical nuclear force has approximately 2,000 warheads for delivery by air, navy and other defensive forces, including about 730 air-to-surface missiles and bombs, and ABM systems around Moscow. The total number of the so-called nonstrategic nuclear weapons at Russia’s disposal has not been officially updated since 2005.

The Russian defence ministry does not disclose figures of its nuclear stock, but informs Washington as part of the two countries’ informational exchange. The information is then published by US-based organisations.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates the total number of nuclear warheads in the world to be 17,300. France is the third biggest nuclear power with 300 warheads, followed by China with 250 and the United Kingdom with 225.

- AFP, 2013

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