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Ilya Tsukanov
Ilya Tsukanov
Ilya Tsukanov is a Moscow-based correspondent specializing in Eastern European, US and Middle Eastern politics, Cold War history, energy security and military affairs. Member of the Sputnik team since the site's inception in 2014.

Which Countries Have the Biggest and Deadliest Nuclear Arsenals?

Nuclear war news

The world seems to be suffering from a case of nuclear fever, with Western media spending weeks seriously discussing the implications of a nuclear war with Russia.

Moscow has called on everybody to take a big chill pill and cool it with the nuclear rhetoric. Sputnik presents a few sobering facts about these deadly, world-ending weapons.

How Many Nuclear Weapons Does Russia Have in 2022?

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2022 Yearbook, Russia has a total of 5,977 nuclear warheads in its inventory, including 1,588 deployed warheads, and 2,889 stored warheads (i.e. those which could be prepared to fire after some preparations), plus warheads which have been mothballed and prepared to be dismantled.

How Many Nuclear Weapons Does the US Have in 2022?

SIPRI estimates that the United States has 1,744 deployed warheads, 1,964 stored warheads, and a total inventory of 5,428 in its arsenal.

Both nuclear superpowers have reduced their total inventory of nukes since 2021 (by 278 bombs in Russia’s case and by 122 in America’s). Unfortunately, a recent scientific study found that even as few as one hundred 1-megaton bombs could cause enough fiery destruction to trigger a ‘nuclear winter’ that would kill billions of people. The concept of nuclear winter was first popularized by Dr. Carl Sagan in the 1980s to dismiss the folly of US President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ defense umbrella idea, which was meant to allow Washington to fight and win a nuclear war against the Soviet Union.

Other countries with nuclear arsenals include China (350), France (290), Britain (225), Pakistan (165), India (160), Israel (90, allegedly), and North Korea (20). Russia, the US, China and India have a nuclear triad – i.e. the capability to launch nuclear attacks using ground, air and sea-launched weapons systems.

Which Country Has the Most Powerful Nuclear Weapons in 2022?

The Russian RS-28 Sarmat is arguably the most powerful nuclear delivery system today. The 208-ton super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile can carry 10-15 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), which could include both nuclear bombs and dummy targets designed to fool missile defenses. It can also carry maneuverable nuclear-capable Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles to make certain that no one risks the foolhardy idea of trying to decapitate Russia’s leadership or knock out its strategic command system using Prompt Global Strike.

Why Did Ukraine Have Nuclear Weapons and When Did It Give Them Up?

Amid recently-voiced Russian concerns about the Zelensky government having the technology and resources to build a dirty bomb to stage a false flag to accuse Moscow of nuking Ukrainian territory, it’s worth recalling that Ukraine was once a major nuclear power in its own right, at least on paper.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine found itself in possession of a full third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, plus facilities for the development and production of nukes and delivery systems. An 1992 estimate figured that Kiev had about 1,700 warheads, nearly 200 MIRV-equipped ICBMs, and 38 strategic bombers.

But the country never had the launch codes, which remained in Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s hands until 1996, when the last warhead in Ukraine’s possession was transferred to Russia. Ukraine gave up its nukes after signing the Budapest Memorandum – a 1994 treaty guaranteeing Kiev’s security in exchange for its renunciation of nuclear weapons. The agreement was undercut in February 2014 by the US-sponsored coup in Kiev, and has hinged on the brink of collapse since February 2022, when President Zelensky threatened to quit the treaty.

How Many ‘Boomer’ Subs Do Russia and the US Have?

A large portion of the Russian and American nuclear deterrent is based aboard the countries’ nuclear missile-launching submarines, also known as ‘boomer’ subs. The US boomer sub fleet consists of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, with each sub having enough firepower to destroy 96 cities. Russia has 10 nuclear-armed ballistic missile subs in its fleet – five of the Delta-class and five Borei/Borei-A-class vessels. The latter are equipped with 16 R-30 Bulava missiles, each able to carry between six and ten warheads.

Why Did the US Drop Nuclear Bombs on Japan?

The United States is the only nation in history to have ever used nuclear weapons in warfare, killing as many as 226,000 people in the nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. US historians have justified President Harry Truman’s decision to bomb the cities with the fearsome weapons based on the projected casualties the US would have suffered if it had launched an invasion of the Japanese Islands.

In Soviet and Russian historiography, historians have argued that the atomic bombings were in part meant to send a message to Moscow of America’s newfound superweapon, and in part a strategy aimed at preventing the USSR from occupying post-war Japan in a manner similar to post-war Germany.

Who Was the US General That Wanted to Use Nuclear Weapons Against the Chinese?

In 1950 at the height of the Korean War, US Commander Douglas MacArthur asked Washington for permission to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield if his armies were routed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. In December of that year, MacArthur requested between 26 and 34 nuclear bombs for the mission. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and the authorization was never given.

What’s With All the Nuke Talk?

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday calling on the world’s major nuclear powers to do everything in their power to avoid an escalation and prevent weapons of mass destruction from ever being used.

“We are strongly convinced that in the current complicated and turbulent situation, caused by irresponsible and impudent actions aimed at undermining our national security, the most immediate task is to avoid any military clash of nuclear powers,” the Ministry stressed.

Moscow also reiterated that in accordance with Russia’s nuclear doctrine, the country will not use nuclear weapons unless it is attacked using WMDs, or faces conventional aggression so severe it puts the very existence of the state in jeopardy.

Image credit: US Navy, MC2 Thomas Gooley, CC BY 2.0

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Yep so lets go poke the bear. BTW its my understanding no one actually knows how many nukes China has. Its consistently refused to release that information.

  2. I just hope that the Americans and Brits know, understand and believe that Perimeter is fully operational and on standby. Any nuclear strike on Russian territory will result in the destruction of the West – automatically.!

    But as the article points out, as do many similar reports, the nuclear rhetoric must stop before it gets totally out of hand. The days of thinking mutually assured destruction will be the great reminder that commonsense will prevail are fast slipping away. The more nuclear options are discussed by the Americans, the closer it comes to reality. It is pretty clear that the USA is pushing for war. What type remains to be seen…

  3. Only China & India has a “No First Strike Policy”. US has changed its nuclear doctorine allowing itself to carry out unliateral first srike and unleash armagadden. Their maniac puppet presidents are a thing to worry. Russia has a dead hand missile system, which is automated. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand

    If any nuclear strike occurs and if the Russian leadership is dead, all the nuclear weapons will be automatically launched that will wipe out US/UK/EU/Japan/Korea/Australia.

    NZ is not included in the list of countries that will be wiped out under the Dead Hand system but Jacinda’s stupidity and her subservience to US Masters will soon see NZ included I am afraid.

  4. Individuals like John Bolton and Vicotoria Nuland believe in the viability of “‘Limited Nuclear War” and has been in favour of such a conflict with Russia. Limited the what exactly is uncertain. The utter lunacy of this idea does not take into account that such war cannot be limited and that it will very quickly spiral out of control, and become a full strategic attack. I do believe that for the first time the US government (whoever that is?) truly do want not only a hot war with Russia, but in fact a nuclear war. This is probably driven by the likes of Soros and the WEF. Soros has always said the US needs to be destroyed. This will also allow for the level of ”population control” the elite desires. I know it all sounds outrageous but I believe the elite has in fact bought into a death cult.

  5. Israel has one of the biggest arsenals, if not THE biggest.
    No one is allowed to know this.
    No one knows because they control the worlds media.

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