Each point represents a nuclear weapon—the most destructive device on Earth. The US nuclear arsenal includes over 4,600 weapons.
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These weapons are unlike any other.
Here’s an average one, the W78. It causes a mile-wide radioactive fireball and can destroy most buildings—and humans—in a circle about 4 miles wide.
Hundreds can be launched within minutes.
About 400 nuclear-tipped missiles are stationed underground in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota. They’re staffed 24/7 and kept on hair-trigger alert, ready to launch if and when they receive orders from the president.
Submarines carry hundreds more.
A single nuclear-armed submarine carries the TNT equivalent of roughly seven World War II’s. About 10 such subs are at sea at any given time.
Aircraft are armed too.
About 300 bombs and air-launched cruise missiles are deployed on air bases in the United States. Another 150 bombs are in Europe. All are capable of smaller, lower-yield explosions, which may increase the risk that they’ll actually be used.
The president can use them at any time.
As Commander in Chief, the president enjoys complete control over the US nuclear arsenal. No one in Congress, the judicial branch, or even the US military can legally prevent their use once the president’s order is given.
More are in storage.
Thousands of backup weapons are kept in storage—the so-called nuclear hedge. In total, the US maintains about 4,600 nuclear warheads and bombs.
New weapons on the way.
The United States plans to spend a trillion dollars to rebuild essentially all of its nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Experts fear that the plan, which includes new designs and capabilities, will fuel tensions with Russia and China and ultimately undercut US security.
Explore for yourself.
Hover over any point for information on the weapon.
- United States nuclear forces, 2017, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73:1, 48-57., Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, 2017
- How U.S. Nuclear Force Modernization Is Undermining Strategic Stability: The Burst-Height Compensating Super-Fuze, Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore A. Postol, 2017
- Capabilities of B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Increase Further, Hans M. Kristensen, 2013
– The weapons in grey are the B61-7, B61-11 and B83 bombs, of which only the B61-7 will be replaced. Current public estimates give a combined total of 510 for these three bombs (100 deployed and 410 in storage), but no information on the individual bombs. Based on information from 2013, there could be anywhere from 155 to 430 B61-7’s in the current arsenal.