NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Nuclear Scorecard

October 15, 1999

The Senate defeat of a treaty that would ban underground nuclear testing brings up the question of just how big is the U.S. nuclear arsenal and which other nations belong to the "nuclear club."

Here are some of the facts:

  • The cost of the Pentagon's war-ready nuclear arsenal has dropped more than 60 percent in real terms since the late 1980s, as the U.S. has given up building new multi-billion-dollar weapons systems.
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates the U.S. spent about $20 billion last year on supporting and maintaining its nuclear forces -- although the Pentagon puts the figure several billion lower.
  • Some 7,200 of the 10,925 U.S. nuclear warheads are long-range -- although a small number of these are retired and will be dismantled.
  • Up to half of Russia's 20,000 nuclear warheads are also retired and are scheduled for dismantling, experts report.

Aside from the U.S. and Russia, three more countries maintain substantial nuclear arsenals. They are France, China and the United Kingdom.

  • France has 450 nuclear warheads, of which 384 are long range.
  • China has about 400, including 20 long range.
  • The U.K. has 185, all of which are long range.

Also, Israel, India and Pakistan are believed to have produced some nuclear warheads, but their numbers are sketchy.

Source: Carla Anne Robbins, "U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Is Poised for War -- Is It the Right One?" Wall Street Journal, October 15, 1999.


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