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If the US does not pursue nuclear disarmament, how many nuclear warheads will it have in 2029?


The size of the US's nuclear weapons stockpile reached a peak in 1966 at around 30,000 warheads. Following the deescalation and the end of the Cold War, the number has substantially decreased. Kristensen and Korda (2019) estimate that the US maintains a deployed stockpile of nearly 3,800 warheads. The approximate breakdown is as follows:

  • 1,750 warheads are currently deployed, of which
    • 1,300 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles,
    • 300 at strategic bomber bases in the United States,
    • 150 tactical bombs are deployed at air bases in Europe.
  • 2,050 are in storage as a so-called hedge against technical or geopolitical surprises.

It is possible that this trend will reverse in a period of nuclear rearmament, especially if world tensions get worse. The Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review takes a confrontational tone, presenting an assertive posture that embraces “Great Power competition” and includes plans to expand the US' nuclear arsenal.

If the US has at least 3,800 nuclear warheads in 2029, what is the largest number of nuclear warheads it will maintain in its inventory in 2029?

This resolves as the largest number of nuclear warheads deployed or in storage in the 2029 period, conditional on this number being at least 3,800, as reported by credible sources such as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' Nuclear Notebook (such as this one for 2019). A similar credible source may be consulted if the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in no longer active or publishing reports. For the purposes of question resolution, warheads that are retired and awaiting dismantlement will not be counted.

This question resolves ambiguously if the US maintains strictly fewer than 3,800 nuclear warheads in its inventory at any time in 2029.

See also the related question, In 2029, will the US have fewer nuclear warheads than it did in 2019?


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