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7.2 Declared States

In the game of comparing nuclear arsenal sizes a number of different methods of measurement can be used. The most popular are the number of warheads, and the total megatonnage of the arsenal. Number of warheads is meaningful when each warhead is large enough to destroy the target it is used against. Targets large enough to require many warheads are relatively few in number, even if the warheads are small (as nuclear weapons go), so warhead number is a fairly good indicator of the effective arsenal size. Megatonnage provides a more direct measure of the gross destructive power of the arsenal, and is especially important for estimating long range effects (like fallout). Since the destructive potential of a nuclear weapon is not necessarily proportional to its size, an alternative to total megatonnage has been proposed called equivalent megatonnage. The equivalent megatonnage of a warhead is its yield in megatons raised to the two-thirds power: Y(2/3). This metric assumes that blast is the important destructive effect, as it is against most structures. The area affected by the thermal flash is directly proportional to size however, and this casualty producing effect thus dominates in large weapons.

An additional complication in discussing arsenal sizes with respect to Russia is its large number of retired warheads from its Cold War arsenal that have yet to be dismantled (few U.S. warheads remain that have not been dismantled). Both nations thus have large numbers of superfluous weapons that have yet to be dismantled, but are not part of their official arsenals. Information about these inventories of these retired weapons are available for the U.S., but is spotty at best for Russia. But these weapons do still exist and could be put back into service on short notice if the decision to do so were made. Even after dismantlement, the expensive nuclear materials will still exist, often in the form of fabricated weapons components, and manufacturing new weapons from them could be undertaken more rapidly than could be done from scratch.

7.2.1 United States of America

On 1 October 1998 a new SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan), known as SIOP-99 went into effect. The SIOP is the comprehensive policy guidance for employing nuclear weapons. SIOP-99 was the first new operational plan since SIOP-81 was enacted at the beginning of the Reagan Era, and was drafted in response to Presidential Decision Directive 60, signed by President Clinton in November 1997.

Since the invention of nuclear weapons, the U.S. has built about 70,000 warheads, and dismantled about 58,000 of them with most of the nuclear materials being recycled into new weapons. The U.S. currently has about 12,500 weapons in existence, but only 8700 (approx.) are in active service. The remaining 3800 or so are retired weapons either awaiting dismantlement, making up part of the inactive reserve, or both. Some counts give somewhat lower numbers for operational weapons (e.g. 7200), but the weapons making up this differential are simply "in storage", have not been transferred to reserve status, and are in full operational condition. At its numeric peak in 1967, the U.S. arsenal had some 32,500 warheads.

The U.S. has produced no new nuclear warheads in the past ten years (the last fissile bomb core was fabricated in December 1989, the last weapon was assembled 31 July 1990). The U.S. is nearing the end of the dismantlement effort begun several years ago, and has no plans at present for building any new nuclear weapons, or any new strategic delivery systems. Existing warheads have been modified however, creating for example the B61 Mod-11 tactical bomb, and remanufacturing of existing warheads to extend their service life is expected. If START II is implemented, by 2007 the U.S. plans to have about 4450 warheads in service (the last time there were fewer than this was in 1957 when 5828 warheads existed) with a combined hedge stockpile and inactive reserve of an additional 5000 warheads. The hedge stockpile will contain fully operational weapons that are kept in storage away from their delivery systems (so that they are not immediately available), there are currently no weapons assigned to this category. The inactive reserve contains weapons that are intact but not in operational condition. Extensive work may be required to return an inactive weapon to service (e.g. expansion of tritium production facilities, followed by stockpiling of additional tritium; modification of inactive warheads to mate with current delivery systems, etc.). 350 W-84 warheads are currently assigned to the inactive reserve.

On 1 March 1995, President Clinton declared 212.5 tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium to be excess to national security needs. Since that time additional information about the amount, locations, and forms of this material has been released. The excess plutonium (38.2 tonnes) is stored at 10 locations in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico (two locations), Texas, Ohio, New York, Tennessee and South Carolina. The HEU (174.3 tonnes) is stored at six locations in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and South Carolina. It is expected that the HEU will be blended with natural uranium to produce some 7000 tonnes of civilian power plant fuel over 8-10 years. About 10 tonnes of HEU has already been placed under international safeguards at the Oak Ridge Y-12 site.

The excess HEU consists of 33 tonnes of >92% enrichment material (originally used or intended for weapon primary cores), and 142 tonnes of 20-92% enrichment material (much of it used or intended for thermonuclear secondaries). No HEU for weapons use has been produced since 1964, and production of HEU for use in naval reactors ended in 1991 with future needs to be met from the stockpile.

On 6 February 1996 U.S. Dept. of Energy declassified significant additional information about plutonium stocks and their location. It was disclosed that since 1944 the U.S. produced or acquired 111.4 tonnes of plutonium, principally for weapons programs. 93.5% was produced in government reactors, 5% was imported from 14 countries and 1.5% arose from commercial reactors.

89.3% of the 111.4 tonnes produced or acquired remains in the DOE/Department of Defense inventory (99.5 tonnes). The balance consists of plutonium used in the Nagasaki bomb and in weapons tests (3.4 tonnes, 3.1%), waste (3.1%), inventory differences (2.5%), fission and transmutation (1.1%), transfer to foreign countries (0.6%), decay (0.4%) and distribution to the civilian nuclear industry (0.1%).

Of the 99.5 tonnes in current inventory, 85 tonnes is weapons-grade plutonium (less than 7% Pu-240), 13.2 tonnes is "fuel-grade" (7-19% Pu-240) and 1.3 tonnes is reactor-grade (over 19% Pu-240) material. 38.2 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium was declared excess inventory, and will be disposed of. The remaining 46.8 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium includes 32 tonnes of plutonium contained in weapons still in the U.S. stockpile, and 5000 pits from disassembled weapons as part of a strategic reserve. Of the excess inventory: 55.8% (26.1 tonnes) is located Pantex - almost all in the form of fabricated weapon pits; 31.2% is located at Rocky Flats, and is thus inaccessible for weapons use at present since the facility has been shut down; most of the remaining 13% is distributed between Hanford, Los Alamos, and Savannah River.

A total of 90.5 tonnes of weapon grade plutonium was produced by the U.S. 54.5 tonnes of this was produced at Hanford, 36 tonnes was produced at Savannah River.

Three countries provided the bulk of the foreign-derived material: United Kingdom (5,384 kilograms), Canada (254.5 kg) and Taiwan (79.1 kg). 749 kilograms of plutonium that was transferred to 39 foreign countries between 1959 and 1991 under the U.S. "Atoms for Peace" program. The plutonium was used for a variety of civilian purposes, primarily power reactor development under International Atomic Energy Agency supervision.

The strategic reserve also contains thermonuclear secondary stages from disassembled weapons, in addition to the 5000 pits. These secondaries contain enriched uranium (in the sparkplug and fissile tamper) and lithium-6 deuteride. When weapons are disassembled at Pantex the secondaries are shipped to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where the Y-12 plant that manufactured them is located. Some of the secondaries are dismantled, but others are retained as part of the strategic reserve. The number retained for this purpose is not known, but may perhaps match the number of pits in the reserve.

Despite the halt in weapons manufacture and testing, and the draw down in weapon stockpiles, the U.S. has expressed no interest in abandoning nuclear weapons (and netiher has any of the other nuclear weapons states). To maintain the existing weapon stockpile, and an infrastructure capable of weapon development, production and testing, an ambitious research and construction program has been developed. This program maintains the level of funds devoted to the nuclear weapons related programs at the DOE at about the same level as during the Cold War. The content of this program has been summarized by the DOE as follows:

Under this program the national weapons laboratories are continuing to devise new weapon designs and modifications. Los Alamos is developing a replacement warhead for Trident II Mk5 reentry vehicle. Lawrence Livermore is studying the reuse of old weapons pits in new weapon designs. Both labs are working on adding state-of-the-art safety features to some weapons that now lack them. Current Nuclear Forces
The U.S. is currently wrapping up an interim consolidation of its strategic forces, a process set in motion by the unilateral demobilization of thousands of nuclear weapons by Pres. Bush on 27 Sept. 1991. A planned force reduction envisioned by the 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to complying with the provisions of the START II treaty, originally to be completed by 5 December 2001 and then extended by Helsinki agreement until the end of 2007, is now on hold indefinitely. In April 2000 START II was finally ratified by the Russian Duma after a seven year delay, but with additional conditions that require approval from the U.S. Senate. Congressional legislation had previously prohibited complying with the START II prescribed force levels until the treaty went into force (a requirement that required an additional $104 million in the FY 2000 budget), and no hearings or votes on the Duma-imposed conditions have yet been scheduled. The status of START II and its force reduction time table thus remains in limbo at the start of 2001. The U.S. military is on record favoring the introduction of further force reductions -- particularly the planned decommissioning of four submarines -- to save costs regardless of formal treaties.

In any case the START I and START II treaties, like the SALT treaties before them, use strategic delivery vehicles and delivery vehicle loadings as the unit of accountability. This practice was originally instituted due to mutual suspicion and secrecy during the Cold War since delivery vehicles could be counted by satellite, and their configurations confirmed by occasional surprise examination. Nuclear weapons (warheads) per se were not counted. This remains true under START I and II, the limits set are calculated in terms of agreed upon counting rules for delivery vehicles and loadings. Thus there are no restrictions placed on the number of actual nuclear weapons, operational or otherwise, that can be stockpiled by either power, and no restrictions on many types of tactical nuclear warheads. Accordingly the 1994 NPR specified that the U.S. will actually maintain an intact stockpile of some 10,500 weapons, known as the Enduring Stockpile, in various stages of readiness even if and when START II goes into full effect. This is an inventory some four times the officially calculated 2000-2500 deployed strategic warhead limit for START II (for START I the level is 3500). Until such time as other treaties are concluded, or a future posture review makes a unilateral revision, this stockpile level will be maintained indefinitely.

There are currently nine warhead types in the Enduring Stockpile. Each of the two national weapons labs is responsible for the stewardship of the warhead types that they developed. Los Alamos National Laboratory is responsible for five warheads - the B61, W76, W78, W80, and W88. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is responsible for four - the W62, W84, W87, and B83.

In assessing nuclear force levels a distinction should be made between the forces that are in service and the forces that are actually available at any given time. Since weapon systems require maintenance, and crews that operate them require training, a certain portion of nuclear delivery systems are normally unavailable for either or both of these reasons. The percentage of the total force affected by these considerations is lowest for the ICBM force, which has an an availability rate on the order of 99%. The other legs of the triad have lower rates of availability.

U.S. ICBMs and those SLBMs at sea are maintained on continuous alert, but are not targeted at any specific country. The missiles could, however, be returned to their previous targeting status on short notice. The bomber force is no longer maintained on constant "strip alert", although it could be returned to alert status within a few days if necessary.


The US ICBM force consists of 500 Minute Man III missiles, and 50 Peacekeeper (MX) missiles deployed at three bases (down from four). Under START II the 50 Peacekeeper missiles were scheduled to be deactivated with the US relying solely on the Minuteman III as a land-based ICBM. This deactivation had been on hold, though with contingency programs to implement it continuing. In the FY 2002 budget (which begins 1 Oct. 2001) submitted to congress by Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld however , proposed to reture all of them at a savings of about $70 million a year. The MM III force is now based at Malmstrom AFB, Montana (200 missiles in the 10th, 12th, 490th, and 564th missile squadrons of the 341st Space Wing); Minot AFB, North Dakota (150 missiles in the 740th, 741st, and 742nd missile squadrons of the 91st Space Wing); and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming (150 missiles in the 319th, 320th, and 321st missile squadrons of the 90th Space Wing). Warren also hosts the sole Peacekeeper squadron (50 missiles, of the 400th missile squadron also of the 90th Space Wing). Each squadron controls 50 missiles, which are divided in to five "flights" of 10 missiles. There are five underground launch control centers (LCCs) in a squadron, each LCC is responsible for monitoring the operational status of one flight. For redundancy every LCC in a squadron is capable of commanding the launch of every missile in the squadron; to ensure secure control two LCCs (or an airborne LCC aboard a EC-135) must command the launch of a missile before it will fire.

The redeployment of MM III missiles from Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota was completed 3 June 1998. Destruction of the inactivated silos and launch control centers (LCCs) by explosive demolition as required by START I began at Grand Forks in 1999. The first silo, near Langdon, North Dakota, was destroyed 6 October 1999 with 14 demolished by the end of that year. The process will be completed by 1 December 2001.

The 150 previously deactivated Minuteman II silos and LCCs at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota have already been destroyed. On 13 September 1996 the 149th former silo was blown up at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. The 150th and last silo at Ellsworth became the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site on 29 November 1999. The MM II silo demolition program was completed at Whiteman AFB, Missouri (still home to some 550 strategic bombs) in December 1997. The fate of the MM II silos at Grand Forks are currently being debated, it has been proposed that some them could used by a National Missile Defense (NMD) system.

When (if) the START II treaty goes into force, the MM III force will be downloaded to one warhead each. START I limits already restrict warhead loading and some MM IIs have been downloaded to one warhead to comply with START I. If Peacekeeper is deactivated under START II the Mark 21 RV/W-87 warhead will be redeployed on to MM IIIs. The W-87 has superior safety features over the warheads it will replace such as insensitive high explosive, a fire resistant pit, and ENDS (enhanced nuclear detonation system) which offers better security. Some W-87s have already been placed on MM III missiles, perhaps using some of the reserve W-87s not deployed on Peacekeepers. The Air Force is eager to retire the W-62 warhead from active service.

The responsibility for maintaining the ICBM force has been contracted out now, to TRW Inc., for a possible 15 year term running through 2012 at a cost of $3.4 billion (less than what the Air Force expected to spend). TRW is also managing the three-part upgrade program for the MM III force. Since the average age of the MM III inventory already exceeds 25 years (last one assembled 11/30/78), a U.S.$5.2 billion program is refurbishing them and extend their life to 2020. The first part of the program has already been completed, in which the MM III launch control centers (LCCs) were upgraded with Rapid Execution and Combat Targeting (REACT) consoles developed for the MX Peacekeeper program. The second part of the program involves upgrading the electronics and guidance system for the Minuteman. Between 1998 and 2002 a total of 652 new guidance units will be produced for the MM III fleet. These guidance units are the same Advanced Inertial Reference System (AIRS) developed for the Peacekeeper and will enhance MM III accuracy to a comparable or better CEP of 100 m. The third part of the program is the "Propulsion Replacement Program" which will remanufacture the solid fuel boosters, including repouring the solid propellant, using state-of-the-art techniques. The first remanufactured missile was successfully launched from Vandenberg AFB on 13 November 1999.

Although the USAF expects the Minuteman III force to remain in service until 2020, it has begun exploratory work on developing a replacement. One suggstion has been to revive the now cancelled SICBM (small ICBM) and base it in MM III silos.


With the return to port by the USS Florida (SSBN 728) from operational patrol on 25 May 2001, the U.S. Navy strategic submarine force completed its 3500th Fleet Ballistic Missiles (FBM) patrol. The first of the 3,500 FBM patrols dates back to 15 November 1960, when the USS George Washington (SSBN 598) deployed on her first operational mission carrying 16 Polaris A1 missiles. Since that time there have been 1245 Polaris patrols, 1182 Poseidon patrols, 826 Trident I patrols, and 247 Trident II patrols. The total time on patrol amounts to some 245,000-mission days or some 671 years of combined service.

The Ohio class SSBNs are the only ballistic missile submarines still in the U.S. arsenal, all subs belonging to older classes have been decommissioned or converted to other uses. The first Ohio class submarine, the Ohio (SSBN 726) was launched 7 April 1979 and commissioned 11 November 1981. All of the 18 planned boats have now been commissioned. The final boat, the Louisiana (SSBN 743), was commissioned on 6 September 1997. The first 8 Ohio class subs were equipped with the Trident I missile. Starting with the 9th boat, the Tennessee, commissioned in March 1990, subsequent subs have been equipped with the D-5 Trident (Trident II). The Ohio fleet is based at Bangor, Washington (Submarine Group 9, consisting of a single squadron of 8 boats) and Kings Bay, Georgia (Submarine Group 10, consisting of a squadrons No. 16 and 20 each with 5 boats). Currently only Kings Bay supports the Trident II, which reached its full strength of 10 boats with the Louisiana.

Under START II and the NPR the oldest 4 subs (the Ohio, Michigan, Florida and the Georgia) would be retired for a fleet of 14. The remaining 4 Trident I boats (the Alaska, Nevada, Jackson and the Alabama) will be converted to use the Trident II, allowing the Trident I missile to be retired. The first submarine to be designated for backfit with the Trident II was the Alaska (SSBN 732) in 1998, with the upgrade to take place during regular depot maintenance in September 2000. The contract for the second upgrade, the U.S.S. Nevada (SSBN 733), of $62.8 million was awarded in January 1999. The retrofit program is to be completed in FY 2005. Trident II procurement continues with funds allocated in the FY 2001 budget (12 missiles), now the only U.S. strategic missile production program. The USN is planning for a life extension for the Ohio class, giving the boats a service life of 42 years (to around 2030) and is planning life extension for the Trident II to match.

Bangor is due to being a 10 year $5 billion upgrade beginning in 2001 to equip it to support the Trident II. Beginning in 2002 three boats will be shifted from Kings Bay to Bangor so that both bases will support 7 boats each.

On 26 June 2001, a triple launch of Trident II missiles from the USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) brought the Navy to the remarkable total of 94 consecutive launchs of the Trident II without a failure. Of the 116 Trident II flight tests since 1987, only five have failed, and none since December 1989. This makes the Trident II the most reliable strategic nuclear missiles ever developed.

Due to the delay of the Russian Duma in ratifying START II, the decommissioning of the four oldest Trident II subs had been in doubt. On 5 January 1999 Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. J.L. Johnson, testified to congress that the costs of keeping them is service past their planned decommissioning dates is prohibitive due to the need for costly refueling, remarks later echoed by Secretary of Defense Cohen - signalling that with or without START II, the Navy intended to decommission them, or retire them from nuclear service, starting in 2002; a position that has been reaffirmed by the Bush administration. The boats may be eliminated entirely from service, or they may be reassigned to non-nuclear roles. Conversion to a combined special operations and cruise missile launcher role has been discussed; two of the 24 launch tubes would be converted to handle special ops vehicles and the remaining 22 would house 7 cruise missiles each (for a total of 154).

Under Start I, the Trident II is limited to 8 warheads (its design capability is 14 or more). This lower loading extends its range to over 11000 km. START II will lower the loading to five each, further extending the range. The extended timetable for START II agreed to at Helsinki would require that there be no more than 2160 SLBM warheads (down from the current 3456), or five per missile for a fleet of 18, by the end of 2004; and no more than 1750 by the end of 2007.

The United States maintains two full crews for each SSBN, with about 60 percent of operational SSBNs (9 or 10 boats) routinely at sea, with about 50 percent being actually on patrol. The SSBN fleet operates on a 112 day cycle with a 77 day patrol followed by a 35 day refit period. On average, about 10 percent of U.S. SSBNs (one to two) are undergoing long-term overhauls at any given time, and thus are not available for immediate use. Usually half the patrolling boats (4 or 5) are on "hard alert", that is in their patrol area and within range of all their targets. The other boats are on "modified alert" which means in transit, going to or returning from patrol, and are available for combat although with poorer target coverage. The U.S. Navy disclosed early in 1998 that at that time the actual patrol loading is an average of 5 warheads per missile (thus 480 warheads are kept on hard alert), perhaps for the range advantage provided.


The U.S. bomber inventory (like that other combat aircraft) is organized ("coded") into three nested categories: TAI (total aircraft inventory), PAI (primary aircraft inventory), and PMAI (primary mission aircraft inventory). TAI comprises all aircraft in service, PAI is normally a smaller number than TAI, it designates those aircraft available to units to fulfill various functions but omits aircraft held as attrition replacements and reconstitution reserves. PMAI is a smaller number that PAI, it is the PMAI aircraft that form the authorized fighting structure of the Air Force. PMAI denotes aircraft that are "combat coded" - authorized to combat units for the performance of the unit's basic missions; it excludes aircraft maintained for other purposes such as training and testing. PMAI are fully funded in terms of operations and maintenance, load crews, and spare parts, and are available for immediate deployment. All bombers in inventory, including those in reserve, are kept in flyable condition and receive planned modifications.

The total aircraft inventory of 93 remaining B-1B Lancers (out of an original production run of 100) have been converted to a conventional bombing role and by the end of 1997 had been phased out as part of the U.S. strategic nuclear forces. While they are not available for nuclear missions on short notice, with modification they can be returned to strategic nuclear duty if desired, and are accountable under START-I delivery vehicle limits. 70 B-1s are PMAI, and 12 are typically assigned to training duty (PAI is 82). In the FY 2002 budget, the Bush administration proposed reducing the B-1 force to 60 for a saving of $165 million in 2002. The money saved would be reinvested in the remaining B-1s for upgrades. On 1 August 2001 however the House Armed Services Committee voted 33-26 to block the Air Force plan to cut the B-1 bomber force at the instigation of the the representatives from the states where they are based.

The force of B-52 Stratofortresses (popularly called the BUFF) has been scaled back to a total inventory of 94 planes, all of them B-52Hs (out of an original 104 H models). This is actually increase from the early 90s, with additional B-52s being returned to service in recent years. In FY 2001 this these 94 TAI aircraft are programmed to decline to a fleet of 76 bombers. Of this fleet 56 are counted as PAI, 44 are allocated to PMAI (the PMAI figure is unchanged from previous recent years), and 12 are normally training coded. The 20 non-PAI aircraft are for attrition replacements, reconstitution reserves, or test aircraft. Despite its age (the last was delivered in October 1962) the B-52H airframe is estimated to be good for service at least to 2030 (this is 83 years after the B-52 program's inception!). Maintaining an operational inventory this long however requires alotting a substantial number for attrition through the rest of the B-52's service life. There is a continuing program of retrofits and upgrades to maintain the combat effectiveness of these aircraft, all 76 inventory aircraft being kept up-to-date.

The B-52H force is based at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana and Minot AFB, North Dakota. Barksdale AFB supports the 11th, 20th, and 96th Bomb Squadrons of the 2nd Bomb Wing with a total of 58 B-52Hs. Minot AFB hosts 5th Bomb Wing with 35 planes, and two test aircraft are kept at Edwards AFB, California. With the transfer of the B-1B to conventional duty the B-52H is now the only cruise missile (ACM and ALCM) capable carrier aircraft.

All 21 of the Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit aircraft have now been delivered to the Air Force, The 21st and last new production plane was delivered in January 1998. Aircraft have been sent back for upgrades to the current Block 30 standard operational configuration from the original Block 10 and test configurations even as deliver proceeded. By the end of June 2000 the 20 production version planes had all been converted to the Block 30 standard operational configuration, the 20th having been deivered on 29 June, and were available for service. The last aircraft to be converted is the B-2 test plane whose conversion is scheduled for completion by September 2002. The Block 30 modification provides the B-2 with the ability to carry all types of strategic nuclear bombs (i.e. the B61-7, B61-11, B83, and B83-1 bombs) and a variety of conventional bombs (including the Mk 84), missiles, and other munitions. Cruise missiles are not supported however. Of the 21 TAI B-2s, 16 are PMAI aircraft.

The first operational B-2 was delivered to the 509th Bombardment Wing (the same unit that flew the atomic bombing missions against Japan in WWII) at Whiteman AFB, Missouri 17 December 1993. The 509th is composed of the 393rd and 325th Bomb Squadrons. The first full squadron (the 393rd) did not become became operational until 1 April 1997. The 325th Bomb Squadron became operational on 8 January 1998. In March 1998 the B-2s participated in their first major exercise when they deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam for 10 days. A year later, on 24 March 1999 they saw combat for the first time when two B-2s flying a round-trip, 30-hour mission from - and back to - Whiteman AFB, Mo., dropped a combined 32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions on Yugoslavia in the opening hours of Operation Allied Force.

With reductions in the size of the combat coded strategic bomber force (44 B-52s and 16 B-2s) increasing number of operational nuclear weapons have been put in storage since they exceed the number necessary to fully load the combat-ready force. The maximum load is 1136 weapons (of which no more than 880 can be cruise missiles). The number of potential bombs and missiles with nuclear warheads totals 2060 (and omitting the 750 tactically assigned B-61 bombs).

U.S. Strategic Delivery Systems and Characteristics

Delivery Systems

Entry into Service



(CEP, m)

Warhead Number and Type


LGM-30G Minuteman III Mk 12 1970 13000 1150 300 3 x W62 (170 kt)
LGM-30G Minuteman III Mk 12A 1979 13000 1150 200 3 x W78 (335 kt)
LGM-118A Peacekeeper (MX) 1986 13000 3950 100 10 x W87-0 (300 kt)


UGM-96A Trident I C4 1979 7000+ 1500 500 8 x W76 (100 kt)
UGM-133A Trident II D5 Mk-4 1990 7-11000 2800 8 x W76 (100 kt)
UGM-133A Trident II D5 Mk-5 1992 7.4-11000 2800 100 8 x W88 (475 kt)
Ohio Class Submarine 1981 24 x Trident I/II


B-52H Stratofortress 1961 11-14000 25000 10 (ALCM/ACM)
100 (bombs)
20 x ALCM/ACM/B61/83 bombs
B-1B Lancer
1986 11000 100
B-2A Spirit 1994 11000+ 20000 100 16 x B61/83 bombs

Cruise Missiles

AGM-86B ALCM 1981 2500 110 10 1 x W80-1 (150 kt)
AGM-129 ACM 110 10 1 x W80-1 (150 kt)
Some Minuteman III missiles have been downloaded to one warhead, some have been equipped with W-87 warheads.
B-1B no longer deployed in the nuclear role, but can be reactivated after modification.

U.S. Strategic Forces: December 2000

Weapon Designations

Launcher Number

Warhead Loading
(Number x Mt)

Warhead Number

Total Yield
(Gross Mt)

Total Yield
(Equiv Mt)


Minuteman III, Mk 12 200 3 x 0.17 600 102 184
Minuteman III, Mk 12A 300 3 x 0.335 900 327 470
Peacekeeper (MX) 50 10 x 0.30 500 150 224


Trident I C4 192 8 x 0.10 1536 154 331
Trident II D5 Mk-4 192 8 x 0.10 1536 154 331
Trident II D5 Mk-5 48 8 x 0.475 384 182 234
Ohio Class Submarine 18 24 x Trident I/II


B-52H Stratofortress 44/56/93 20 x 0.15/0.30/1.2
B-2A Spirit 16/20/21 16 x 0.30/1.20
B-52H and B-2A force combined 60/76/114 1750 959 1209

Grand Total

1085 (active) 7206 2008 2983
This stockpile includes all weapons actually deployed on delivery vehicles, all weapons that are certified and kept ready for use, and a modest set of certified spares that are used to replace ready-for-use weapons when these are taken off duty for inspection or maintenance.

As of July 1998, the active U.S. stockpile consists of the following weapons:
                      PRODUCED                             Mt   Equiv. Mt
B61-7 Bomb              10/66   0.3 to 340   AF      610*  207    297
B61-11 Bomb              1/96   0.3 to 340   AF       50    17     24
B83/B83-1 Bomb           6/83   low to 1200  AF      600** 720    678
W76 for Trident I C4     6/78       100      Navy   3200   320    689
W88 for Trident II D5    9/88       475      Navy    400   190    244
W62 for Minuteman III    3/70       170      AF      610   104    187
W78 for Minuteman III    8/79       335      AF      915   308    441
W87-0 for Peacekeeper    4/86       300      AF      525   158    235
W80-1 for ALCM          12/81    5 to 150    AF      400    60    113
W80-1 for ACM            ?/90    5 to 150    AF      400    60    113
B61-3/4/10 Tactical Bomb 3/75   0.3 to 170   AF/NATO 750   128    230
W80-0 for SLCM***       12/83    5 to 150    Navy    320    48     90

GRAND TOTAL                                         8780  2320   3341
*   310 of these are in storage.
**  120 of these are in storage.
*** All are stored ashore.

The Hedge and Reliability Replacement Stockpiles
Any functional nuclear weapon that is not in active service is available for use in principle. Most or all of the dwindling backlog weapons now awaiting dismantlement (about 1500 in mid-1998) are probably functional so any of them could be reactivated on short notice. There are two defined classes of warheads that are not on active duty, but will be retained indefinitely as part of the U.S. Enduring Stockpile - the hedge stockpile, and the reliability replacement stockpile. As weapons are taken off operational status over the next several years, they will be placed in one of these two stockpiles instead of being dismantled.

Warhead Retirements

At the end of 1990 the U.S. held some 21,000 operational warheads, plus another 750 retired warheads that were awaiting dismantlement (due to the manufacture of new weapons in the 80s, relatively little effort had been spent on dismantling old ones). In 1990 weapon manufacture ceased, a change that was not entirely intentional but was forced upon the DOE by safety problems at its Rocky Flats and Savannah River plants. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and Pres. Bush's decision to begin reducing U.S. nuclear forces in September 1991, the whole system was put into reverse and reduction and dismantlement became the primary activity. Since that time some 10,500 warheads have been dismantled, and another 1,500 await dismantlement (as of mid-1998) -- a process to be completed by September 2002. As of mid-year 1998 there were approximately 1500 weapons awaiting dismantlement of three types -- the W56 (Minuteman II), the W69 (SRAM) and the W79 (203mm [8 inch] artillery shell). Most of the weapons have been dismantled at the Pantex Plant, some that contained HEU as the sole fissile material were dismantled at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.

    Pantex Weapon Dismantlements
1 Oct to 30 Sept
      1990                  1151
      1991                  1595
      1992                  1303 (Y-12 dismantled another 553)
      1993                  1556
      1994                  1369
      1995                  1393
      1996                  1064
      1997                   498

     TOTAL                 10482

Disassemblies of Warheads by Type
        FY 1990-1997*
Warhead/Weapon Type         Number
B28 Bomb                      624
B43 Bomb                      258 
W44 ASROC                     104
W48 155 mm shell              759
W50 Pershing 1A               160
B53 Bomb                       28
W54 SADM                      145
W55 SUBROC                    160
W56 Minuteman II                1 
B57 Bomb                     2242
B61-0, B61-2, B61-5 Bombs    1159
W68 Poseidon SLBM            2468
W69 SRAM                       60
W70 Lance                    1170
W71 Spartan ABM                39
W79-0, W79-1 203mm shells       3

*Does not include disassemblies of types currently in the stockpile. Existing Weapon Infrastructure
Most of the weapons production infrastructure that was constructed during the Cold War has been shut down, much of it is being dismantled. Planshave been formulated to transfer various production and maintenance functions to other facilities as needed, mostly to the U.S. national laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore Natational Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratory (SNL). With the termination of weapons tests and production the role of the laboratories have been redefined to be "stockpile stewardship" - maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile.

All manufacture of nuclear materials for weapons has been halted. There is now a stockpile surplus of U-235, Pu-239, and enriched lithium deuteride.

Tritium has not been produced in the United States since 1988, when the government shut down its last weapons reactor at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. Weapon retirements will offset tritium decay in stockpile weapons so that no new tritium production will be needed to support the NPR defined post-START II arsenal until 2011 (allowing a 5 year reserve). Until START-II hgoes into effect the DOE is required by congress to continue support a START I-sized arsenal indefinitely. This larger arsenal will require replacement tritium by 2005 (again allowing for a reserve). Planning to develop a new tritium production capability resulted in a decision announced Dec. 1998 by DOE Sec. Richardson to begin producing tritium in the commercial Watts Bar nuclear plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority near Knoxville, Tenn with the TVA's Sequoyah nuclear plant outside Chattanooga as a backup. This is the first time a civilian commericial facility has been designated for use in producing nuclear weapons materials in the U.S.

There are two nuclear weapon design labs - LANL and LLNL. Each lab is responsible for supervising and maintaining the weapons it designs. Currently the labs are responsible respectively for the following weapons:

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
This weapon design lab competes with Los Alamos. It was established June 1952 near Livermore California and has always operated under a contract with the University of California Board of Regents. The 12.2 square mile facility employed 7,800 people on 25 Nov 1995.

LLNL conducts R&D activities associated with all phases of the nuclear weapons life-cycle, as well as research on non-proliferation, arms control and treaty verification technology. Facilities include the High Explosive Application Facility (HEAF), a tritium facility, the NOVA laser used for Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) research, and the Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS) plant. It is currently planned to be the site for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), a new ICF laser facility.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)
Opened in 1943 to design atomic bombs as part of the Manhattan Project, Los Alamos has always been operated under a contract with the University of California Board of Regents. This 43.0 square mile facility employed 7,987 people on 25 Nov 1995.

Los Alamos National Laboratory originally manufactured pits in small numbers for weapons tests at its TA-55 (Technical Area-55) plant. This four acre facility is currently the only full-function plutonium handling facility in the U.S. It opened in April 1978 at a cost of $70 million, and houses 400 scientists and engineers. The 150,000 square foot PF-4 (Plutonium Facility-4) is the actual plutonium processing area of TA-55.

In recent years plans have lagged to reestablish pit manufacturing capability at TA-55. In March 1998 LANL announced the successful fabrication of a weapon pit, the first since 1989. By March 2000 TA-55 had produced three engineering pits for the W88, but were projecting that a certifiable weapons pit would only be available "in the next few years" (originally this milestone was slated for 2000). The Stockpile Stewardship Environmental Impact Statement called for Los Alamos to develop the capability to make 20 to 50 pits a year eventually; current DOE plans call for Los Alamos to be able to fabricate up to 20 war-reserve pits a year by 2007. Los Alamos will also support stockpile maintenance by requalifying 100 pits a year (this implies a remanufacturing lifecycle of at least 250 years for all active weapons, and nearly 50 years for requalification). Current estimates of pit lifetime range from 30 to 90 years.

Los Alamos also loads targets with tritium for use by Sandia in manufacturing neutron generators under the NTTL (Neutron Tube Target Loading) project. In 1999 NTTL loaded 450 targets for Sandia for the W76 warhead.

Until FY 1984 Los Alamos had the capability to fabricate and assembly nuclear weapon test devices. This function was terminated due to persistent security problems, and is now handled by the Nevada Test Site.

Nevada Test Site (NTS)
Located 65 miles from Las Vegas, NTS was established as a nuclear weapon test range in 1951 with its first nuclear test (January 27, 1951). The last nuclear test was on 23 September 1992. A total of 928 total tests (100 atmospheric, 828 underground) are known to have been conducted there. The 1,350 square miles facility employed 4,901 people on 25 Nov 1995.

NTS is currently the only U.S. facility capable of manufacturing nuclear explosive devices. With U.S. nuclear explosion tests permanently terminated, its function has shifted to sub-critical tests with high explosives and fissile material in enclosed test chambers. In mid-1993, construction was completed on the $100 million Combined Device Assembly Facility, a 100,000 square foot building within a highly secured 22 acre portion of the test site. The facility includes five high explosives containment cells, called "Gravel Gerties," three weapon assembly bays, two radiographic areas and storage bunkers.

Pantex Plant
This 16.6 square miles facility, located near Amarillo, Texas, has long been the sole facility for the assembly/disassembly of nuclear warhead and bombs. It has not produced any weapons for nine years, the last new nuclear weapon (a W88 warhead) was assembled on 31 July 1990. It is now performing dismantlement operations only, along with a modest evaluation program that involves disassembling and reassembling about 60 warheads a year for stockpile reliability purposes. By 2000, when the current backlog of weapons has been dismantled, Pantex will reestablish a modest standby manufacturing and remanufacturing capability. Over the period 1990-1996 Pantex averaged 1347 dismantlements a year. This fell to only 498 in 1997 when a number of accidents, including the cracking of a pit during disassembly, caused all work to halt for a time.

In operation since May 1952, it is run by the Mason and Hanger-Silas Mason Company. It employed 3,348 people on 25 Nov 1995, and remains staffed at close to this number in 1999. Staffing is projected to fall to 1600 in 2003 when the current dismantlement program is completed. Its current annual operating budget is $265 million.

Pantex currently stores pits from disassembled weapons (eventually most or all of these will be moved to a planned facility at SRS). In mid-1998 it had 10500 pits in storage and had upgraded its pit storage capability to 12000. As of mid-year 1998 there were approximately 1500 weapons awaiting dismantlement of three types -- the W56 (Minuteman II), the W69 (SRAM) and the W79 (8 inch artillery shell). When the current backlog of weapons awaiting dismantlement is cleared (planned date September 2002) this storage capacity will be full.

On 6 Feb. 1996, the DOE declared that Pantex holds 21.3 tonnes of weapon-grade plutonium (and 16.7 tonnes of highly enriched uranium) considered excess inventory including planned dismantlements, this represents the plutonium from some 7000 pits. 5000 additional pits, containing 15 tonnes of plutonium, are being retained in the strategic reserve.

Sandia National Laboratory (SNL)
Sandia was established to provide engineering services for the development of nuclear weapons at the end of WWII. Its 11.9 square mile main facility is located inside Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, New Mexico; it has a 413 acre branch laboratory near Livermore. It is operated by the Lockheed Martin Sandia Corp. and employed 8,527 people on 25 Nov 1995. More recent figures (Jan. 1999) are about 6,600 people in Albuquerque and another 900 in Livermore.

SNL has taken over production responsibility for neutron generators (initiators) from the now closed Pinellas Plant, and a contingency capacity to produce thermal batteries, where they were originally manufactured. Equipment has been transferred from the Pinellas plant and installed at Sandia and personnel have also been moved from the Pinellas plant. The first thermal battery production was expected in 1998 and delivery of the first Sandia-produced neutron initiator in 1999. At full capacity Sandia expects to be able to produce 500 neutron initiators per year.

Savannah River Site (SRS)
Located near Aiken, South Carolina, Savannah River was established to be the primary production site of nuclear materials for weapons in 1952 at the height of the Cold War. This capability has now been completely shut down. The 300 square mile facility contains deactivated production facilities occupying 16 square miles. It employed 16,655 people on 25 Nov 1995. Its current weapon-related work focuses on tritium handling, and managing the radioactive waste left over from the production of plutonium and tritium.

In Dec. 1998 DOE Sec. Richardson also announced that a new $500 million plant to disassemble the pits (plutonium cores) of nuclear bombs would be built at Savannah River. The facility will disassemble nuclear pits and convert the recovered plutonium metal to an oxide form suitable for disposition. Disposal methods would include fabricating the plutonium oxide into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which would be burned in existing domestic reactors, and immobilization of the plutonium in ceramic surrounded by vitrified high level waste. The DOE is currently conducting a demonstration of a prototype pit disassembly and conversion system at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The demonstration, which involves dismantling of pits over a two-to-three year period, provides information for designing and operating the full-scale pit disassembly and conversion facility. The full-scale facility is to be designed and constructed over 1999-2004, with production operations beginning in 2005. Up to 50 tonnes of plutonium is expected to be disposed of by this facility. Construction and operation of the full-scale facility is contingent on reaching agreement with Russia on plutonium disposition.

Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR)
Located at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this was one of the two original production sites for nuclear weapons material established by the Manhattan Project, the selection of this site was on September 19, 1942 (code named Site X) was in fact the first major decision taken as part of the Project. The reservation covers 55.1 square miles and has three main facilities located on it - the 4.5 square mile Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the 1.3 square mile Y-12 Plant, and the 2.3 square miles K-25 Plant. It is currently operated by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation and employed 14,639 people as of 9/30/97. Its 1997 budget was $1.1438 billion (not including DOE's Oak Ridge Operations Office).

Originally the K-25 and Y-12 plants both produced enriched uranium for the Manhattan Project. Later the function of Y-12 was switched to manufacturing materials for thermonuclear weapons (enriched lithium-6) and the thermonuclear secondaries themselves. It has also held the responsibility for fabricating enriched uranium components for weapons. It now has responsibility for dismantling secondaries from disasembled weapons, and maintains custody of U.S. stocks of weapons grade enriched uranium, and the reserve stockpile of secondaries that are kept intact. ORR also produces weapon components to support to support the activities of the design laboratories and the Nevada Test Site and fabricates fuel materials for the naval nuclear reactor program.

Over the years ORR has produced some 483 metric tons of uranium-235, and 442.4 metric tons for nuclear weapons. Currently 189 metric tons of uranium-235 and 3.0 metric tons of low-enriched uranium are stored at the Y-12 Plant, 1.5 metric tons of uranium-235 at the K-25 Plant, and 1.4 metric tons of uranium-235 and some uranium-233 at ORNL. 84.9 metric tons of this uranium-235 declared excess by President Clinton on March 1, 1995.

Other Facilities
Nearly all non-nuclear bomb components are manufactured at the the Kansas City Plant operated by the Bendix Kansas City Division of Allied-Signal. This 136 acre facility (containing 3.2 million square feet of process building space) was opened in 1949 and employed 3,291 on 25 Nov 1995.

The existing U.S. gaseous diffusion enrichment facilities at Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio are owned and operated by the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC, established by the Energy Policy Act of 1992). On 11 May 2001 the Portsmouth plant ceased operation and USEC consolidated all enrichment activity at the Paducah plant. This plant only produces low-enriched uranium. In January 1991, the NRC received an application to construct and operate the nation's first privately owned uranium enrichment facility in Homer, Louisiana; a project that was later abandoned. The only facility for producing uranium hexafluoride is the Allied-Signal plant in Metropolis, Illinois.

As of mid-1997 the U.S. had nuclear weapons stored at 26 sites in 15 states and 7 foreign countries (this does not count ballistic missile submarines on patrol in the open ocean). The 1997 figure is a significant decline from a few years ago, and a dramatic one over the last decade when hundreds of sites existed around the world. Several more of these sites are being closed now, or due to be closed over the next few years.

In the early 1990s, shortly after the demobilization of nuclear weapons begun by Pres. Bush, the Pantex Plant in Texas had more U.S. nuclear weapons than any other site in the world, over 5000, although none of them were part of the active stockpile. By mid-1997 this number had declined to only 350, the largest number of nuclear weapons were now being held at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico with 2850. Only 450 of these warheads were operational, 1400 of them slated for dismantling, and another 400 are held as part of the U.S. reserve stockpile. The inactive warheads are held in the 58 storage bays and bunkers of the Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Complex (KUMSC), a new 300,000 square foot facility opened in 1992 at a cost of $30 million. Because of Kirtland, New Mexico has more nuclear weapons than any other state.

Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia has more operational nuclear warheads stationed there than any other U.S. base in the world with 2000, although a substantial portion of these are on patrol at sea at any given time (also making Georgia the state with the most operational warheads). Second place is Bangor Naval Base in Washington state with 1600. The Air Force base with the most warheads is Nellis AFB in Nevada (home of Area 51) with 1450, second place is F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming (950).

Only 150 warheads were deployed overseas (not counting ballistic missile submarines on patrol), al of them B-61 tactical thermonuclear bombs based in Europe.


New Mexico      2850          Kirtland AFB
Georgia         2000 		  Kings Bay 
Washington      1600          Bangor 
Nevada          1450          Nellis AFB
Wyoming          950          F.E. Warren AFB
North Dakota     805          Minot AFB (805) 
Montana          600          Malmstrom AFB
Missouri         550          Whiteman AFB
Texas            520          Pantex Plant (350), Dyess AFB (170)
Louisiana        455          Barksdale AFB
Nebraska         255          1 site
California       175          North Island NAS - San Diego
Virginia         175          Yorktown NAS - Norfolk
South Dakota     170          Ellsworth AFB
Colorado         138          1 site

Approx. Total  12700

Germany          Buechel, Memmingen, Norvenich, Ramstein (U.S. base)
United Kingdom   Lakenheath (U.S. base)
Turkey           Balikesir, Murted, Incirlik (U.S. base)
Italy            Ghedi-Torre, Aviano (U.S. base)
Greece           Araxos
Netherlands      Volkel
Belgium          Kleine Brogel
Europe Total     150 Planned Nuclear Forces
As a result of the START II Treaty, the U.S. Department of Defense prepared a Nuclear Policy Review, issued on 22 September 1994, which projected U.S. nuclear forces in the year 2003 (now 2007) after the treaty provision go into effect. Current plans are to have 3500 accountable strategic warheads, 1000 non-strategic warheads, and 500 spares as part of the active inventory. These planned reductions may be delayed until the US Senate votes on the conditions placed on the START II treaty by the Russian Duma in April 2000.

                           AND TYPE             
Minuteman III   450-500  1 x W87-0             300        450-500 
Trident II D5     256    5 x W76               100        1280
                   80    5 x W88               475         400
Ohio Class         14   24 x Trident I/II       -          336 missiles
B-52H Stratofort.  33   12 x W61/W83        10 to 1200     396
                   33   20 x ALCM/ACM/bomb   5 to 1200     660
B-2A Spirit        20   16 x B-61/83 bombs low to 1200     320
ALCM (AGM-86B)           1 x W80-1           5 to 150
ACM                      1 x W80-1           5 to 150    


                      PRODUCED                             Mt   Equiv. Mt
B61-7/B61-11 Bomb       10/66    10 to 300   AF      420   126   188
B83/B83-1 Bomb           6/83   low to 1200  AF      500   600   564
W76 for Trident II D5    6/78       100      Navy   1280   128   276 
W88 for Trident II D5    9/88       475      Navy    400   190   243
W87-0 for Minuteman III  4/86       300      AF    450-500 150   224
W80-1 for ALCM/ACM      12/81    5 to 150    AF      400    60   113

B61(-3,4,10) Tact. Bomb  3/75   0.3 to 175   AF/NATO 600   105   188
W80-0 for SLCM          12/83    5 to 150    Navy    350    53    99
GRAND OPERATIONAL TOTAL*                            4450  1412  1895
*Plus an additional 500 spares

W76 for Trident II D5    6/78       100      Navy   450     45    97
W78 for Minuteman III    8/79       335      AF     900    302   434
W84 GLCM Warheads                  10-50      ?     350     18    47
Bombs and cruise missiles         5 - 9000?  AF     800   1000? 1000?
GRAND INACTIVE RESERVE TOTAL                       2500

Principal sources for the section on the United States are:

7.2.2 Russia

The Russian nuclear arsenal remains in an uncertain state of flux due to the direct and indirect consequences of the breakup and economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia completed the redeployment of nuclear weapons from the territory of the non-Russian former Soviet republics by November 1996, but now faces severe funding problems for maintaining a standing strategic weapons force. The existing Russian nuclear arsenal, largely built up in the 1970s and early 1980s, is reaching the end of its useful service life. In September 1997 Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, chief of the Russian strategic rocket forces, stated that 62 percent of Russia's ICBMs are beyond their guaranteed service life. In late November 1998, Anatoly Perminov, chief of the strategic missile force's general staff, put the figure at 58 percent. Remanufacturing the existing weapons as the US is currently doing is costly, and Russia appears to lack the engineering and industrial resources to undertake such an effort. Much of the original industrial base for these weapons was located in now independent former republics, particularly Ukraine. The alternative, which Russia is pursuing, is to to replace existing weapons with new ones. The severe budget crisis makes replacing existing weapons on a one-for-one basis impossible.

Although under the START II treaty Russia is permitted 3500 warheads, it has been clear for a number of years that maintaining this number exceeded the resources of Russia. One of the first official indications of this was at a stockpile planning at a review held by Pres. Boris Yeltsin on 6 July 1998. At this review Yeltsin used the proposed START III levels of 2000-2500 warheads as the basis of stockpile planning. Most estimates of Russia's likely nuclear forces over the next decade are sharply lower than this however.

Prior to the July 1998 review, prominent Russian strategist Lev Volkov estimated that Russia may have only 700 warheads by 2007. Sergei Kortunov, a top Kremlin defense aide, has written that "with a lot of effort" Russia might climb back to 1,000 warheads by 2015. Perhaps the most serious indication of the straits Russia's nuclear forces are in, because of its official imprimatur, came in October 1998. News organizations reported that a secret report to the Russian Duma by First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, a former top Soviet-era military-industrial planner, had estimated that Russia may well be able to field only 800 to 900 nuclear warheads by 2005. These estimates are notable in that they address Russian capability regardless of what the official policy might be.

Since shortly after coming to power at the beginning of 2000, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has advocated a START III limit of no more than 1,500 warheads. On 13 November 2000 he moved even beyond that, arguing that that the number for START III should go even lower, though he cited no specific figure. On the other hand Putin has also stated that reductions in the Russian nuclear arsenal is contingent on the U.S. abstaining from deployment of a national ABM system, and that Russia would not unilateraly reduce its arsenal. Given Russia's inability to maintain even its highest priority strategic programs on track (see the Topol-M below) it is questionable whether Putin can make good on these commitments to maintain the existing force structure if events call on him to do so.

By contrast, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, the Soviet Union in 1990 had 10,779 strategic nuclear warheads (this excludes an estimated 6,000 to 13,000 non-strategic warheads which have never been covered by arms control treaties.)

The pressure from such hard realities was no doubt a significant factor in bringing the START II treaty, which had been awaiting action by the Russian State Duma (the lower chamber of parliament) for 7 years, to a vote for ratification on 13 April 2000. It passed by a 288 to 133 vote, but with conditions that required U.S. Senate approval before the treaty could enter into force.

Drastic reductions in the Russian arsenal possibly moved closer to becoming official policy in July 2000, when Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the general staff, proposed a radical reform of the strategic missile force. His plan, as reported by Izvestia, was to cut the number of land-based missile launchers from 756 to 150 by the year 2003; eliminating 16 or 17 missile troop divisions (leaving 2 or 3); and firing 3,000 rocket specialists. The newspaper said he also proposed drastically reducing the production rate of the single-warhead Topol-M missile, from 10 a year (the rateof the rpevious year) to two a year. As a result, the nuclear forces' share of the military budget would be reduced from 18 percent today to 15 percent. This plan would subordinate the missile troops -- now an independent branch -- to the regular army, and enhance the role of the general staff over the nuclear forces.

Not surprisingly Defense Minister Marshal Igor Dmitriyevich Sergeyev, a former head of the missile troops, strongly objected to this proposal, even threatening to resign. Sergeyev had previously proposed establishing a single command over all nuclear forces, along the lines of the US Strategic Command, an idea intended to provide a substantial simplification of command and control for the Russian nuclear forces as they grew smaller, but maintaining its top level ranking as an equal to the Air Force, Navy, and Army. Currently, control over nuclear weapons passes through the General Staff, which oversees the various services in combat.

PM Putin tabled Kvashnin's proposal at the time without rejecting it, but then at the end of the month fired 6 generals closely associated with Sergeyev in a move widely considered to be a signal about the debate. The other shoe finally dropped on 27 April 2001, when the new Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov (replacing Sergeyev) downgraded the Strategic Rocket Force from being a separate branch of the military, replacing the Sergeyev loyalist Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Yakovlev with Nikolai Solovtsov, but with only the rank of Commander. Sergei Ivanov had been on the job four weeks, and was formerly head of Putin's Security Council where he had overseen the development of military refrom plans.

If the rest of Kvashin's plan is now implemented, it would probably reduce the ICBM force to a mere 150 warheads, retiring 3400 warheads and leaving Russia with no more than 2100 even if all other forces no one the books remained. Some reports have said that Kvashin suggested a total force of only 550 warheads. It should be noted that the actual number of Topol's finally deployed in 2000 was no more than 6 and may have been as few as 3 - down sharply from 10 the year before, and dramatically from the 20 originally planned for 2000. Thus actual Topol procurement rates now also seem to be reflecting Kvashin's proposals.

The most significant strategic program undertaken by Russia in recent years was the deployment of the operational regiments of Topol-M ICBMs (designated as either RT-2PM or RS-12M2 and designated SS-27 by NATO). This is the first missile to be built exclusively in Russia.

The Topol-M was designated as the highest priority defense program. In contrast to other state defence programs, the Topol-M production program was fully funded in the 1998 budget. Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, head of the RVSN, said that just to build the Topol-Ms, which cost about $30 million apiece, "will require the concentration of all our resources."

The first test flight of this missile was 20 December 1994, it successfully completed its initial six flight test schedule on 9 December 1998 with a launch from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia. The regiment was declared operational by Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev on 27 December 1998 at a strategic missile base in Tatishchevo, near the Volga River city of Saratov. The first two missiles were actually installed at the base in old SS-19 silos near in December 1997.

The Topol-M is being deployed as a single warhead missile although it is capable of carrying three warheads. It has a range of 10500 km, and is suitable for silo or mobile basing. It has improved reliability and operational features, including an improved road-mobile launcher and turning radius, and succeeds the SS-25 Topol. Like its predecessor it is an inertially guided three-stage solid-fuel missile. The missile's launching weight is 47 tonnes, the payload (warhead weight) is one tonne. The missile's length without the warhead is 17.9 meters, and the maximum diameter of the body is 1.86 meters.

According to Maslyukov, who is in charge of the Russian military-industrial complex, the original plan was to deliver to the Russian Strategic Missile Force (RVSN, or Strategic Rocket Force - SRF - in English) 10 Topol-M missile systems in 1998, 10 in 1999, 20 in 2000, after which a production level of 35 to 45 a year would have been achieved. In the Soviet era, the Votkinsk factory, which builds the Topol-M in the central Urals mountains, made about 80 missiles a year. In actual fact, the deployed force at the end of 2000 was 24 to 26 Topol (the exact number is unclear), with only 4 to 6 being delivered in 2000 (some reports say only 3 were made operational). So it appears that even this one program is in serious trouble, and may be stretched out greatly.

Russia is also working on keeping existing systems in operation as long as practical. To support this effort the RVSN made a successful test launch of an RS-22 ICBM (known as the SS-24 Scalpel by NATO) with multiple warheads from a railway missile system on 10 December 1998. The launch from Plesetsk tested the deployment of 10 warheads and "hit targets at the Kamchatka test site with high precision," according to the Interfax news agency.

Under the Nunn-Lugar Act, a program named for its originators originated by Senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn, D-Ga., the United States has spent more than $400 million each year since 1991 to help Russia dismantle its old Soviet weapons, and plans to allocate an additional $440 million in 1999.

Under the 'swords for plowshares' deal signed in January 1994 to dispose of excess weapons material, the U.S. Government will purchase 500 tonnes of HEU from Russia for dilution, for US$11.9 billion. Under the Russian-U.S. agreement the United States Enrichment Corporation will purchase a minimum of 500 tonnes of military HEU over 20 years, commencing with 10 tonnes for the first five years and not less than 30 tonnes per year thereafter. The weapons-grade is to be blended down to 4.4% U-235 in Russia and the Russians intend to use 1.5% U-235 for this, to minimize the levels of U-234 in the product. In the short term the military uranium is likely to be blended down to 20% U-235, then stored. In this form it is not usable for weapons.

The blending down of 500 tonnes of military HEU will result in about 15,000 tonnes of low-enriched uranium over 20 years. This is equivalent to about 150 000 tonnes of natural uranium, or approximately three times western world demand in 1993. The dilution of 10 tonnes of military HEU per year for the first five years will displace approximately 3,700 tonnes of uranium oxide production per year, equivalent to output from a medium to large uranium mine. By 2000 the dilution of 30 tonnes of military HEU will displace about 11,200 tonnes of uranium oxide mine production per year which represents approximately 20% of the western world's uranium requirements.

In 1995 the U.S. Enrichment Corporation received its first shipments of low-enriched uranium from Russia (186 tonnes), derived from six tonnes of weapons-grade material. The first shipment of this to a customer, valued at US$145 million, was made in November, and is presumably now generating electricity.

On 27 April 1997 Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov announced that Russia had dismantled almost half of its arsenal, removing nearly 400 tonnes of HEU in the process. Current Nuclear Forces

Over the last few years there has been little change in the formal size of the Russian nuclear forces although their effective size has shrunk slightly due to continuing system deterioration. A Pentagon report issued on 10 January 2001 placed Russia's strategic arsenal at 5,870 operational strategic nuclear warheads in 2000 with 1,130 intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles in working condition (slightly lower than the figures totalled in the table Russian Strategic Forces: January 2001 below).

Current strategic plans are to manufacture the Topol-M (SS-27) to replace most of the ICBMs currently in service. Under START-II Russia can retain SS-19s (downloaded from six warheads to one) and SS-25s in service. The SS-19 is a relatively old system (some have now been in service 20 years) and probably will have to be retired before 2007. The composition and size of Russia's nuclear forces is difficult to project given the uncertainties regarding its actual capability to deploy the Topol-M and maintain existing systems. Russia's failure to maintain even the low initial production rate of the Topol-M, allegedly its highest priority defense project, indiactes that this force component is likely to remain small - fewer than 100 until late in the decade.

The RVSN is organized into four missile armies with headquarters at Vladimir, Omsk, Orenburg, and Chita. There are 19 missile bases, each consisting of a separate missile division. The RVSN's 6th Main Directorate is responsible for nuclear security and custody. As of mid-1998 there were 754 missles of four basic types: 180 SS-18s, 168 SS-19s, and 10 SS-24s in underground silos; 36 SS-24s on railroad cars, and 360 road-mobile SS-25s. 10 silo based SS-27s were added at the end of 1998.

During 2000 the RSVN conducted six launches that verified reliability of its four principle ICBM systems. Three launches were conducted of the new SS-27, the 10th test launch on 9 February, the first operational training launch from Plesetsk on 26 September, and the first launch of a mobile SS-27 on 27 September. One launch was conducted for each of the SS-18 (26 September) as part of a commercial satellite launch from Baikonur, the SS-19 (1 November) with a single warhead, and the SS-25 (11 October). These three launches will assist in keeping these missiles in service for a few more years.

The SS-18 is the largest nuclear missile ever deployed, and the most destructive remaining nuclear delivery vehicle in the world. It is believed that the 25 megaton unitary warhead of the SS-18 is not now in service.

As part of large nation-wide exercise, Russia test launched an array of missile tests on 16 February 2001 at 13:43 Moscow Time (5:43 a.m. EST). The Russian armed forces launched a Topol ICBM from the Plesetsk base in northwestern Russia and a SLBM of unspecified type from a submarine in the Barents Sea off Russia's north coast. Both hit their targets in a test range on the Kamchatka Peninsula some 4,200 miles away in Russia's far eastern extremities, officials said. News reports also said that Air Force bombers test-fired one strategic and two tactical missiles in southern Russia.

The Russian strategic ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) force officially consists of 42 boats (down from 62 in 1990) of six types (Yankee-I, Delta-I, Delta-II, Delta-III, Delta-IV, and Typhoon), but only boats of the latter three classes are believed to be in actual operation so the true force is much smaller. At beginning of 2001 only 17 submarines are actually considered operational -- 3 Typhoons, 7 Delta-IVs, and 7 Delta-IIIs. Of the original six Typhoon class subs, one was scrapped in 2000, and two more have been taken out of service. In 1999 only seven SSBN patrols were conducted (down from 37 in 1991), an average of only one submarine on patrol at at time. The remainder are likely kept ready in port as static (but highly vulnerable) missile launchers. During the three months of May-June 1998 Russia reportedly had no SSBNs on patrol. The fleet had been expected to drop to 12 in 2000, with the retirement of five Delta-IIIs from the Pacific fleet, but the operational life of these boats has been extended until 2005. There is speculation that the entire Typhoon may be retired soon. A source of confusion to the uninitiated is that the Typhoon (NATO designation) submarine, is known in Russian as the Akula (shark); a name also unfortunately chose by NATO to designate an entirely different Russian attack submarine.

Operational SSBNs are based on the Kola Peninsula at Nerpichya and Yagalnaya, and on the Kamchatka Peninsula at Rybachi. All the Typhoon-class submarines are stationed with the Northern Fleet at Nerpichya. Nerpichya and Yagalnaya and located close to Polyarnyy on fjords that have access to the Barents Sea. Nerpichya is on Zapadnaya Litsa (Litsa Fjord). All the Delta IV submarines serve in the 3rd flotilla of strategic submarines of the Northern fleet based at Yagelnaya, which is part of the Gadzhiyevo [Gadzhievo] Naval Base. The Delta III submarines are all based at Rybachi located on the southern side of Avacha Bay 15 km from, and opposite, the city of Petropavlovsk.

The production line for the SS-N-23 was reopened for low rate production to keep the Delta-IVs (evidently the soundest SSBN class in the fleet) in operation. Russia conducted a successful test launch of two SS-N-23s from the Delta-IV submarine Karelia on 27 March 2000, and a single launch at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) 27 December 2000 in the Barents Sea from the Northern Fleet Delta-IV submarine Novomoskovsk and successfully hit its target in Kamchatka according to Fleet spokesman Igor Degalo.

There is a new SLBM missile (SS-NX-28) under development, but as of the end of 2000 had not yet been test flown. The keel of the first Borey (Arctic Wind) class ballistic missile submarine was laid on 2 November 1996 at the Severodvinsk Shipyard, one of three planned new subs, but construction was halted in 1998 and has not resumed, the other two have yet been started. Chief of the Navy Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov has announced that the Borey was being redesigned to accomodate a new missile. No new subs will enter service for several years. The Borey class, if eventually launched, will probably carry twelve SLBMs, each with four warheads. Under the strategic stockpile review held in July 1997, Yeltsin had directed Russian strategic forces to shift to greater emphasis on sea-based missiles by putting half of all warheads on submarines (then at about 30%). This can only be accomplished in the near term by sharp reductions in land forces so that the remaining force is half sea-based.

Of the three legs of the Russian nuclear arsenal, the bomber force has been in the worst state. The premier Russian bomber, the Tu-160 Blackjack, had fallen to a force of only 6, with perhaps as few as two in operational condition by the late 90s. Russia remained committed to reconstituting this force however. On-again/off-again plans to purchase 19 Blackjacks inherited by Ukraine sputtered along for several years due to lack of funds, but finally a deal was struck in October 1999 with Ukraine now deeply in debt to Russia for natural gas deliveries, to exchange the bombers for debt relief. Eight of these have been returned to Russia from the Ukrainian base at Priluki and refurbished to return them to service. The Kazan Gorbunov production line for the Blackjack was shut down in 1994, but efforts to complete 6 remaining partially built planes appear to have largely succeeded with one being delivered in May 2000 and 4 new aircraft now located at Zhukovsky Test Center. This has brought the Tu-160 force up to 15 aircraft, and Russia may succeed in rebuilding a force of as many as 20 Blackjacks in the next few years. With this increase in the Tu-160 force Russia has created a second unit, the Blackjack force is now organized into a new unit, the 22nd Donbass Guard Heavy Bomber Aviation Division. As part of the exchange Ukraine also sent three Tu-95MSs and 575 cruise missiles to Russia. The Tu-95 Bear force has declined from 87 in 1998 to 63 in 2001: 29 Tu-95 MS6 and 34 Tu-95 MS16s. These are organized into the 79th Heavy Guard Bomber Regiment at Ukrainka Air Force Base, and the 121st Heavy Bomber Regiment at Engels AFB, near Saratov.

Current Deployment Locations

SS-18: Aleysk, Dombarovski, Kartaly, and Uzhur (186 total)
SS-19: ?
SS-24 M1: Bersht, Kostroma, and Krasnoyarsk (12 each)
SS-24 M2: Tatishchevo (10)
SS-25: ?
SS-27: Tatishchevo (10)
(Only 8 of 19 bases listed)

Bear:       Ukrainka
            Engels Air Base
Blackjack:  Engels Air Base (15)

Nerpichya (Kola Peninsula): Typhoon (3)
Yagalnaya (Kola Peninsula): Delta IV (7)
Rybachi (Kamchatka Peninsula): Delta III (7)

Russian Strategic Forces: January 2001

Weapon Designations

Launcher Number

Warhead Loading
(Number x Mt)

Warhead Number

Total Yield
(Gross Mt)

Total Yield
(Equiv Mt)


SS-18 M4/M5/M6 Satan 180 10 x 0.550/0.750 1800 1170 [1.] 1347 [1.]
SS-19 M3 Stiletto 150 6 x 0.750 900 675 743
SS-24 M1 Scalpel (silo based) 36 10 x 0.550 360 198 242
SS-24 M2 Scalpel (rail mobile) 10 10 x 0.550 100 55 67
SS-25 Sickel (Topol, truck mobile) 360 1 x 0.550 360 198 242
SS-27 (Topol-M, silo based) 26 1 x 0.550 26 14.3 17.5


SS-N-18 M1 Stingray 176 3 x 0.500 528 264 333
SS-N-20 Sturgeon 60 10 x 0.200 600 120 205
SS-N-23 Skiff 112 4 x 0.100 448 45 97
Delta-III Class Submarine 11 16 x SS-N-18
Delta-IV Class Submarine 7 16 x SS-N-23
Typhoon Class Submarine 3 20 x SS-N-20


Tu-95 MS6 (Bear H6) 29 6 x AS-15A ALCM/bomb 174 44 69
Tu-95 MS6 (Bear H6) 34 16 x AS-15A ALCM/bomb 544 136 216
Tu-160 Blackjack 6 12 x AS-15B ALCM/AS-16 SRAM/bomb 72 18 29

Grand Total

1179 (active) 5915 2937 3610


1. Assumes 50% 0.55 Mt, 50% 0.75 Mt

Blackjack TU-160 1987 12500/

Russian Strategic Delivery Systems and Characteristics

Delivery System

Entry into Service



(CEP, m)

Warhead Number and Type


SS-18 M4/M5/M6 Satan (NATO);
RS-20, R-36N Voevoda (Russian)
1979 11000 8800 250 10 x 0.550/0.750; some 1 x 25?
SS-19 M3 Stiletto (NATO);
RS-18, UR-100NU (Russian)
1979 9000 4350 300 6 x 0.750
SS-24 M1/M2 Scalpel (NATO);
RS-22,RT-23U Molodets (Russian)
1987 10000 4050 200 10 x 0.550
SS-25 Sickle (NATO);
RS-12M, RT-2PM? Topol (Russian)
1985 10500 1000 200 1 x 0.550
SS-27 Sickle (NATO);
RS-12M2, RT-2PM?, Topol-M (Russian)
1985 10500 1000 200 1 x 0.550


SS-N-18 M1 Stingray (NATO);
RSM-50 (Russian)
1978 6500 1650 400 3 x 0.500
SS-N-20 M1/M2 Sturgeon (NATO);
RSM-52 (Russian)
1983 8300 2550 500 10 x 0.200
SS-N-23 Skiff (NATO);
RSM-54 (Russian)
1986 9000 2800 500 4 x 0.100
Delta-III Class Submarine 16 x SS-N-18
Delta-IV Class Submarine 16 x SS-N-23
Typhoon Class Submarine 20 x SS-N-20


Bear H6 (NATO);
TU-95 MS6 (Russian)
1984 13000
Bear H16 (NATO);
TU-95 MS16 (Russian)
Blackjack (NATO);
TU-160 (Russian)
1987 12500

Due to the disordered state of Russian affairs in general, and military affairs in particular, it is difficult to estimate the actual available nuclear forces. The figures given below are the maximum available forces. The actual effective SLBM and aircraft forces may be only a fraction of those indicated. At one point during the summer of 1995 only one Typhoon SLBM boat was deployed. Few, if any, Blackjacks are currently operational. Some of the forces that have become unavailable due to maintenance and support problems may eventually be reactivated.

Russia now has nine power stations operating 29 nuclear reactors Jan. 2001), with 29 gigawatts of electrical capacity; this represents 14.4% (1999) of total electricity generated in Russia.

Russia has four uranium enrichment facilities, in Ekaterinburg, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk and Angarsk, with a total annual enrichment capacity 20 million SWU. Isotope separation has gone through several stages of development: gaseous dynamic nozzle technology, gaseous diffusion, and gas centrifuge. Russia is currently using 50% of her enrichment capacity for domestic and export production, and is thus aggressively marketing her high technology centrifuge separation capacity.

Principal sources for the section on Russia are:

7.2.3 Britain

Britain was the first country to seriously study the feasibility of nuclear weapons, and made a number of critical conceptual breakthroughs. The first theoretically sound critical mass calculation was made in England by Frisch and Peierls in Feb. 1940; and from 10 April 1940 to 15 July 1941 the MAUD Committee headed by Tizard worked out the basic principles of fission bomb design and uranium enrichment by gaseous diffusion. The work done by the MAUD Committee was instrumental in alerting the U.S. (and through espionage, the USSR) to the feasibility of fission weapons in WWII. A high level of cooperation between Britain, the U.S., and Canada continued through the war, formalized by the 1943 Quebec Agreement. Britain sent "the British Mission", a team of first rank scientists to work at Los Alamos. The mission made major contributions to the Manhattan Project, and provided the nucleus for British post-war atomic weapons development effort.

Due to U.S. secrecy the collaboration with the UK broke down at the end of the war, leaving Britain to pursue nuclear weapons on its own. The British nuclear weapons went through a phase of aggressive development and testing (within the UK's financial constraints) of its own indigenous designs during the 1950s. With the resumption of close contact with the U.S. on nuclear weapons technology in 1958, the UK acquired access to the latest weapons technology of the much larger and more advanced U.S. program and switched to using U.S. nuclear weapon designs, adapted to the needs of British service. The UK also began using some U.S. delivery systems, particularly U.S. SLBM systems, the Polaris and later the Trident. Current Nuclear Forces

A comprehensive Strategic Defense Review was completed by the Labor government in March 1988 that resulted in a major revision in Britain's strategic nuclear posture in July. Effective immediately all WE177 bombs were removed from service, and all of them (175 WE 177 A and B bombs - with yields of 200 and 400 kt) were dismantled by the end of August. This left only a single nuclear weapon system in service - the Trident submarine.

This system too was significantly scaled back. The final seven Trident II missiles that had been planned were cancelled (saving 50 million pounds and writing off another 40 million), leaving the UK with a total missile inventory of 58. The number of submarines on patrol at any given time was reduced to one, and the number of warheads deployed on a submarine was reduced to 48 (half of what had been planned, and identical to the force loading on its previous Polaris fleet). The SDR also announced that Britain would hold its arsenal to "a stockpile of fewer than 200 operationally available warheads". The UK was already believed to have fewer than 200 Trident warheads, although the number could have eventually gone as high as 248 under previous MoD directives. In the fall of 1998 the Trident warhead was still apparently in production but probably ended early in 1999.

The first batch of British Trident warheads were completed in September 1992. They were designed by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston, and are assembled at Aldermaston and Burghfield. The warheads are though to have similar characteristics to the U.S. W-76 now on U.S. Trident I and II missiles. The British Trident warheads are capable of selective yield, ranging from under a kiloton up to the full yield of 100 kt or so (this appears to differ from U.S. SLBM warheads). Yields are probably 0.3 kt, 5-10 kt and 100 kt.

In keeping with the reduced operational tempo, only a single crew for each submarine will be maintained. Furthermore the missiles are kept in a de-targeted state. The SDR further declares that "the submarines will routinely be at a 'notice to fire' measured in days rather than the few minutes quick reaction alert that we sustained throughout the Cold War."

The SDR points out that the implied maximum arsenal of 192 warheads "is a reduction of a third from the maximum of 300 announced by the previous government and represents a reduction of more than 70% in the potential explosive power of the deterrent since the end of the Cold War". It is quite possible that the actual warhead stockpile is somewhat smaller than the maximum figure of 192. Only 174 warheads are required to fully equip the entire missile inventory at the specified force loading, but some additional ones would be kept as spares.

The SDR confirmed plans for the Royal Navy to complete the construction of four Vanguard-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The first submarine of the class, the HMS Vanguard, went on its first patrol in December 1994. The second, the Victorious, entered service in December 1995. The Vigilant was launched in October 1995 and entered service in the autumn of 1998. The final sub, the Vengeance, was launched on 19 September 1998 at Barrow-in-Furness, and was commissioned 27 November 1999. The Vengeance completed shakedown trials and entered operational service 12 February 2001. It is expected to go on patrol as part of the First Submarine Squadron in early 2001. The SDR anticipates keeping this force in service for at least 30 years.

The 58 missile bodies being procured are fewer than the 64 required to completely equip all four boats, so rotating missiles between submarines will be required. But since only one Trident submarine will be kept on patrol, it will be easy to have one submarine out of service - undergoing refitting and maintenance - at any given time, requiring only 48 missiles for the three active boats. This is similar to the practice the UK followed with its previous submarine fleet, the Resolution class Polaris missile subs. The UK produced only enough warheads for three of the four boats, so that warheads were rotated from boats in port to ones that were setting out on patrol. Typically two Trident submarines may actually be at sea at any given time, one going or coming back from patrol while the other is on duty. In a crisis three boats could be put to sea fairly quickly with up 144 warheads (120 or so is a more likely figure).

The Trident II missiles are not actually owned outright by the UK. Instead the Trident II missiles belong to a pool of missiles managed by the United States and stored at Kings Bay, Georgia. British boats pick up their load of missiles at Kings bay when they are commissioned and exchange them there when missiles need servicing. The Trident warheads are mated to the missiles on-board the submarine at the Royal naval Armament Depot at Coulport.

Although the average number of warheads per missile will be 48, the actual distribution of warheads on missiles is uncertain. Beginning in 1996 the UK adopted the strategy of "sub-strategic deterrence". This is basically the same idea as the U.S. policy of "flexible response". It entails having a range of nuclear options, especially limited ones. Some Trident missiles are thus downloaded to a single warhead so that it is possible to launch a strike without using multiple warheads, others will thus have a higher loading. The Trident warheads also offer multiple yields - probably 0.3 kt, 5-10 kt and 100 kt - by choosing to fire the unboosted primary, the boosted primary, or the entire "physics package". According to the 1996 Defence White Paper this policy became fully operational when the Vigilant entered service.

With the entry into service of this last SSBN, barring changes in policy with this or future Administrations, the UK nuclear deterrent has entered a state of stability with no planned changess that may last for decades.

British Strategic Forces: March 2001

Weapon Designations

Launcher Number

Warhead Loading
(Number x Mt)

Warhead Number

Total Yield
(Gross Mt)

Total Yield
(Equiv Mt)


Trident II D-5 58 1-6 x 0.100 192 19.2 41.4
Vanguard Class Submarine 4 16 x Trident II D-5

Grand Total

58 192 19.2 41.4

Notes Existing Weapon Infrastructure

In the United Kingdom nuclear weapons development, acquisition and deployment now occurs entirely within the organizational structure of the Ministry of Defense (MoD). The organization within the MoD responsible for the development, manufacture, and servicing of nuclear weapons is the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), which is under the authority of the Procurement Executive of the MoD. The AWE came into existence on 1 September 1987 through the merger of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE) at Aldermaston, and the Directorate of Atomic Weapons Factories (aka the Royal Ordnance Factories, or ROF) at Burghfield and Cardiff. Prior to its transfer to the MoD in 1973, the AWRE had been under the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority since 1954.

AWE Aldermaston

This is the central facility of the British nuclear weapon establishment. It is located at Aldermaston, near Reading, in Berkshire. This facility not only performs most research activities, it also develops weapon designs, and manufactures the majority of weapon components, including nuclear components. It was officially established 1 April 1950 on the site of a World War II airfield. Weapons development work was transferred there from the codenamed "High Explosive Research" (HER) project at Fort Halstead in Kent. The AWE employs about 5000 people.

The facility at Aldermaston covers 880 acres and is broken up into 11 areas. The main administration building is F6.1 in the F area. Area A is known as the Citadel, it occupies the north side of the site and includes the plutonium manufacture and pit fabrication facilities. The A1 plutonium manufacturing buildings were the original fabrication facilities that opened in the early to late 50s. They became badly contaminated in 1978 and were closed, but were reopened in 1982 to manufacture the Chevaline warheads. Operation continued long after its planned closing date, and it manufactured the first Trident warheads. The replacement A90 complex began construction in 1983 and after many delays went into operation in 1991 (5 years late). The A90 complex has 300 glove-box production units, and now handles Trident plutonium component


AWE Aldermaston is organized into three major departments relating to weapons development: the Warhead Physics Department, the Warhead Design Department, and the Materials Department.

The Warhead Physics Department is responsible for research and analysis of the fundamental physical processes involved in nuclear weapons. It is divided into the Mathematical Physics Division (conducts theoretical work and computer modelling and simulation), the Warhead Hydrodynamics Division (conducts experimental work in the processes of weapon assembly and disassembly), the Radiation Physics Division (conducts experimental work in both nuclear radiation physics and radiation hydrodynamics), and the Foulness Division (conducts explosive experiments at Foulness in Essex).

The Warhead Design Department develops the complete nuclear weapon design. It is divided into the Weapon Engineering Division ("physics package" design), the Weapon Diagnostics Division (system testing for EMP and nuclear hardening, etc.), and the Electronic Systems Division (fuzing and arming systems development).

The Materials Department develops the materials and processes required to design and manufacture nuclear weapons. It is divided into the Chemistry and Explosives Division, the Chemical Technology Division, and the Metallurgy Division.

AWE Burghfield

The Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF), Burghfield (now AWE Burghfield) was established in 1954 as the final assembly plant for nuclear weapons (the British equivalent of Pantex). It is located 5 miles southwest of Aldermaston and covers 265 acres, although since 1976 it has been omitted from all British maps. It employs some 600 people. Many of the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons are manufactured at Burghfield - including electronic components, and various casing and component packaging materials. At any given time a number of weapons may be stored there for servicing or disassembly.

AWE Cardiff
Located in Llanishen, 3 miles north of Cardiff, Wales, AWE Cardiff has been involved in nuclear weapon component production since at least 1963. It has a work force of 400 and specializes in high precision components and complex assemblies. Essential parts of thermonuclear weapons, and beryllium/U-238 tampers for fission primaries are manufactured there. Up to 50 tons of depleted uranium may be stored on site. In 1987 AWE Cardiff used 2300 kg of beryllium. Servicing/disassembly of nuclear weapon components also occurs at the facility.

AWE Foulness
This is a 2000 acre test range located on remote Foulness Island on the northern edge of the Thames estuary near Shoeburyness. High explosive tests are conducted at the range, both for weapons development and safety, and to simulate nuclear weapon blast effects.

Sellafield/Windscale/Calder Hall
The main plutonium production site in the United Kingdom is at Sellafield (renamed Windscale when the reactor facility was first built, but now reverted to the original name Sellafield) in north-west England, located on the Cumbrian coast of the Irish Sea. Two 100 MW air-cooled graphite-moderated natural uranium plutonium production reactors (the Windscale Piles) were built there starting in 1950. The first reactor went critical in October 1950, the second in June 1951. These Piles operated until Windscale Pile No. 1 caught fire on 7 October 1957. The fire burned for five days, releasing tens of thousand of curies of radioiodine, and 240 curies of polonium-210 which was being manufactured in the reactor for weapon neutron initiators. During the 11 reactor-years of combined operation these piles produced about 385 kg of weapon-grade plutonium.

Starting in 1956 four more reactors were built at Sellafield - the Calder Hall (CH) Magnox reactors. The Calder Hall reactors entered service between October 1956 and May 1959. These were 180 MW carbon-dioxide cooled reactors with a dual-purpose: they could produce both weapons grade plutonium and electricity. Weapons grade plutonium production tends to interfere with the most economical production of electricity (requiring more uranium for fuel, longer shut down times, and more spent fuel handling), so they were not operated continuously for weapons grade plutonium production. Weapons plutonium production appears to have occurred during 1956-64, the late 1970s, and the mid-late 1980s. These reactors were uprated (as were the identical Chapelcross reactors) to 240 MW in the 1960s, and then downrated slightly in the 1970s.

Sellafield is also the location of British fuel reprocessing facilities, now operated by British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL). The original plant employed the Butex separation process and went into operation on 25 February 1952. The first billets of impure plutonium were produced 31 March 1952. There are now two main plants - the older B205 facility used for Magnox fuel and the newer THORP (thermal oxide reprocessing plant) facility which handles only civilian fuel and is safeguarded. The B205 plant has a capacity of 1,500 tonnes of spent fuel per year , compared to 1,200 tonnes/year for THORP.

Four more military production reactors, identical to the Calder Hall models but designated "CX", are located at Annan, near Dumfries on Solway Firth in south-west Scotland. Although these reactors have been used for plutonium production, they are also the principal source of tritium for the UK. Although Britain is known to have produced kilogram quantities of tritium before 1970 (6,7 kg of it were exported to the U.S.) the initiation of tritium production at Chapelcross was announced in April 1976. Tritium has apparently been purchased from the U.S. at certain times.

Total Plutonium Production
In addition to the militarized nuclear reactors mentioned above, prior to 1969 spent fuel was diverted from other civilian nuclear reactors as well. Attempting to estimate British weapons plutonium production from these many sources is quite difficult. The best estimates have been made by Albright, Berkhout, and Walker in Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996, SIPRI Press. Their net estimate is that Britain produced 3.6 tonnes of weapon grade plutonium in reactors (using fuel burnups of 400-800 megawatt-days/tonne) +/- 0.5 tonnes. About 0.5 tonnes has been effectively lost through reprocessing waste, expenditures in tests, and transfers to the United States. Another 8.7 tonnes of fuel or reactor grade plutonium is also in military inventory.

A British nuclear industry report on plutonium holdings for 1995 showed that British Nuclear Fuels PLC held a total 85 tonnes tonnes of civilian plutonium. 54 tonnes are owned by UK utilities and 31 tonnes owned by BNFL or its overseas customers. Of this 85 tonnes, 39.5 tonnes remains in spent fuel. Only 66 kg was listed as being in MOX fuel exported, none in MOX stock. All separated plutonium had more than 15% Pu-240. The military plutonium stockpile was given as 4.5 tonnes held in various forms by the UK Atomic Energy Authority.


Britain's indigenous supply of enriched uranium is supplied by the gaseous diffusion plant at Capenhurst, originally the site of a Royal Ordnance factory, 25 miles from Risley in Cheshire. Although an enrichment plant was authorized in October 1946, the site was not selected until early 1950. Capenhurst made its initial start up in February 1952, but did not successfully enter operation until 1953 (producing low enriched uranium), and did not produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) until 1954. The plant was given successive upgrades during the fifties, reaching a military significant capacity of 125 kg of highly enriched uranium a year in 1957, and much higher levels in 1959 (as much as 1600 kg/yr, or an enrichment capacity of 325,000 SWU/yr). Capenhurst operated as a source of HEU at full capacity only until the end of 1961. Most of the stages were shut down at that point and the plant converted to low-enriched uranium production for civil reactor use. The 1996 SIPRI estimate was 3.8-4.9 tonnes of HEU being produced, almost all of it in 1959-1961.

The original gaseous diffusion plant was dismantled in 1982, and a new gas centrifuge plant was built called Capenhurst A3. This plant has a capacity of 200,000 SWU/yr and has never produced HEU. After start up ion 1984-85 it produced 4.5% enriched uranium for export to the U.S. either for further enrichment to HEU or in exchange for an equivalent amount of HEU. Since 1993 Capenhurst A3 has been operated as a civilian fuel enrichment plant operated by Urenco under IAEA safeguards.

The majority of Britain's HEU supply was purchased from the United States. Prior to 1970 6700 kg of HEU was imported. An estimated 4000 kg has been acquired from the U.S. since that time. The total amount of HEU acquired by the UK since the start of its nuclear program is estimated by SIPRI at 15.1 tonnes, of which 5.8 tonnes have been used in submarine reactors, 1.0 tonnes used in nuclear tests, and 0.5 tonnes lost in processing wastes. This leaves 7.8 tonnes available for weapons use (+/- 25%).

As part of the SDR, the UK released its first official figures about its holdings of fissile weapons material. These figures can be compared with the estimates given above. Current defence stocks are 7.6 tonnes of plutonium, 21.9 tonnes of highly enriched uranium (both substantially higher than the estimates above) and 15,000 tonnes of other forms of uranium. With the reduction in planned warhead numbers, the UK plans to place a surplus of 0.3 tonnes of weapons grade plutonium under international safeguards (along with surplus non-weapons grade material).

The UK also declared that:

"We will also cease exercising our right as a nuclear weapon state under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to withdraw fissile material from safeguarded stocks for nuclear weapons. Future withdrawals will be limited to small quantities of materials not suitable for weapons purposes and the details will be made public. No material withdrawn from safeguards will be used in nuclear weapons. All planned future reprocessing will also be carried out under safeguards and we intend to publish an initial report by 2000 on past defence fissile material production."

Principal sources for the section on the United Kingdom are:

7.2.4 France

France completed its last nuclear test, the sixth of its 1995-96 Pacific test series, on 27 January 1996. This 120 kt explosion, the largest of the series and probably a test of the TN 75 warhead, was declared to be the last France would ever conduct by PM Jacques Chirac two days later.

On 23 February 1996 Chirac announced a major restructuring of France's nuclear posture. As part of a dramatic overall reduction in French military structure (the largest in Europe), Chirac announced the elimination of all land-based nuclear missiles, and a halt in production of all fissile material for weapons. The 18 SSBS S3D MRBMs based on the Plateau d'Albion were retired (being deactivated on 16 September 1996), along with the Hades tactical missile. The dismantlement of the S3D complex was completed in 1998 at a cost US$77.5 million. Although France has abandoned its land based nuclear deterrent it is maintaining a nuclear "dyad" of submarine launched ballistic missiles and air-launched missiles carried by both land based and carrier based fighter/bombers, and plans to continue to update each of these elements.

It is estimated that the French nuclear arsenal reached its historical peak size in 1991-92 with about 538 warheads. It currently has some 470 or so warheads (of three types) in service, which is expected to decline to around 400 (of two types - the TN-75 and the TN-81) by 2005.

France and the U.S. signed an agreement to share data on nuclear weapons design on 4 June 1996. The agreement builds on 1961 and 1985 accords to share information on the "safety, security and reliability" of nuclear installations and weapons systems. Under the agreement, the United States will share computer data drawn from simulated explosions, information considered so sensitive that it has previously only been shared with the UK. The agreement aims to facilitate work on eight different scientific challenges posed by the global test ban, including ensuring that existing warheads remain potent as their components age, and preventing accidental detonation of these warheads or their seizure by extremists. To avoid handing over information that could be used to design new weapons, the U.S. decided to release the classified results of computer simulations that describe the workings of fission devices, but not the fusion stages. Since fusion energy cannot be released without detonating a fission trigger, safety and security issues for thermonuclear weapons can be adequately addressed by only considering the fission primary.

In 1996, for the first time, the French government has published figures on civilian plutonium in France. A total of 206 tonnes was held. This consists of 55 tonnes of separated plutonium (as isolated plutonium or in fresh MOX fuel), nearly half of which belonged to foreign customers, and the balance in spent fuel. Of the latter, 64 tonnes was in spent fuel at reactors and 87 tonnes at reprocessing plants. Production of military plutonium remains classified, but is estimated by SIPRI to have been 6.0 tonnes (+/- 1.7 tonnes) by the end of 1995. Due to losses from processing and weapons tests the current inventory is about 5.0 tonnes (+/- 1.4 tonnes). In May 1993 the CEA Administrator-General announced that France had ceased production of plutonium for military purposes in 1992. In 1998 France began dismantling the Marcoule reprocessing plant.

No figures are available about actual inventories of weapon grade uranium, but SIPRI estimates that some 45 tonnes (+/- 30%) of highly enriched uranium could have been produced by Pierrelatte. After subtracting losses from various causes (naval reactor use, weapons tests, etc.) they estimate 22-26 tonnes (+/- 30%) of weapon grade material may have be on hand, two to three times the amount probably required for their arsenal. France ceased producing highly enriched uranium in 1996 and started dismantling the Pierrelatte uranium enrichment plant in 1998.

France has already decommissioned its test facilities on the Pacific atolls of Mururoa and Fangataufa. Current Nuclear Forces

Plans are going forward though to upgrade the air and sea-based legs of the French nuclear arsenal. The submarine fleet will eventually be re-equipped with the M51 long range ballistic missile, and the ASMP nuclear missile carried by the Mirage 2000N (and the Rafale after the turn of the century) will be upgraded. The scale of all these programs has been reduced over original plans however.

With the retirement of its tactical and strategic land based missiles, the bulk of France's nuclear force rests with the Strategic Oceanic Force (FOST - Force Océanique Stratégique) represented by the L'Inflexible and Le Triomphant class strategic missile submarines. Each submarine has 16 ballistic missiles.

The first L'Inflexible and was deployed on 1 April 1985. This class was actually an upgrade of the existing Redoubtable class. The other three Redoubtables included in this upgrade were returned to service from October 1987 and February 1993. Currently there are two boats of this class in service - the L'Indomptable (S613) and the L'Inflexible herself (S615). L'Inflexible will be the last boat retired.

On 24 July 1981, Pres. Mitterand announced plans for an entirely new third generation submarine class, the SNLE-NG (Sous-Marins Nucleaires Lanceurs Engins-Nouvelle Generation), later designated Le Triomphant. Originally slated to be a fleet of six submarines, in May 1992 this was scaled back to four. The lead ship of the class, Le Triomphant (S616), was rolled out in Cherbourg on 13 July 1993 and went into service late in September 1996, carrying the new MSBS M45 SLBMs. These successors to the MSBS M4B missile are an updated extended range version of the M4 family and are armed with the new TN-75 warhead. The second boat, Le Temeraire entered service 23 December 1999. Originally planned for commissioning at the beginning of 2000, the schedule for Le Vigilant, has been slipped repeatedly for budgetary reasons and is now expected to enter active service in July 2004. The fourth boat, designated S619 but still unnamed, was not ordered by the Commission de la Défense de l’Assemblée Nationale until 15 September 1999 and is planned for entry into active service in July 2008. As each boat is deployed it will replace one of the L'Inflexible class. Future modernization plans call for replacement of the M45 missile with a new missile designated the M51, with entry into service in 2010 and full deployment by 2015.

The TN-75 is the only nuclear warhead currently being manufactured. It is being produced at the Centre d'Etudes de Valduc (Valduc Research Institute, the "Pantex of France"), near Is-sur-Tille, 40 km north of Dijon. The program to develop the TN-75, a miniaturized hardened and stealthy thermonuclear warhead of moderate yield, began in 1987. Developmental testing of the warhead ended in 1991, but Chirac asserted in June 1995 that a full yield proof test was needed prior to deployment. Its first full-yield test was probably the 110 kt detonation on 1 October 1995 at Fangataufa. Series production began soon afterward, and probably will continue until some time in 2001-2003. Since at about 100 kt the TN-75 has reduced yield compared to its predecessor the TN-71 (150 kt) the MSBS M45 missile will carry a somewhat smaller amount of firepower.

The other leg of the French Force de Dissuasion (Deterrent Force, formerly the Force de Frappe or Strike Force) consists of the ASMP missile (Air-Sol Moyenne Portee) carried on the Mirage 2000N and the carrier-based Super Etendard (the Mirage IVP having been retired in July 1996). The ASMP has carried the burden as France's air delivered nuclear weapon since 11 September 1991 when Mitterand announced the retirement of the AN 52, France's last nuclear gravity bomb. The number of Mirage 2000N aircraft committed to nuclear missions has been reduced from 75 in 1989 to 45 today. These are deployed in three squadrons at Luxeuil and Istres. The number of nuclear capable Super Etendard aircraft has been reduced from 55 to 24 (only 20 warhead-equipped missiles are available in any case), deployed in two squadrons. A possible future modernization of this arm may be to deploy a range-enhanced "ASMP Plus" (500 km vs. 300 km). About half of the Super Etendards are deployed on the Charles de Gaulle, France's only operational aircraft carrier which enetered service in late 2000 after six and a half years of trials (numerous problems were encountered). The Foch was retired by the end of 2000, and the Clemenceau was decommissioned in 1997. The Navy has requested a second de Gaulle class aircraft carrier to be named Richelieu.

The Rafale next-generation multipurpose fighter/bomber will eventually replace both the Mirage 2000N and the Super Etendard. The first production Rafale was delivered 4 December 1998. Production rates will slowly climb from 8 a year to about 16 in 2003/2004 and maybe 20 annually later in the decade (total planned deployment is 234). The Navy has priority for the Rafale; the Aéronavale wants to have its first unit of six aircraft (out of a total order of 60 Rafale Ms) ready on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle by June 2001, but won't tak up a nuclear mission before 2002. The airforce (Armée de l'Air) will begin receiving aircraft in earnest in 2003, with the first squadron (escadron) of 20 fighters ready by early 2005. Deliveries will stretch at least to 2020 (more than 40 years since the start of the program).

The AN 51 Pluton warheads and the AN 52 gravity bombs have already been dismantled at Valduc. Currently the 18 TN 61 one Mt warheads from the S3 MRBMs, and the 30 TN 90 variable yield warheads for the Hades are in storage awaiting disassembly.

French Strategic Forces: End of 2000

Weapon Designations

Launcher Number

Warhead Loading
(Number x Mt)

Warhead Number

Total Yield
(Gross Mt)

Total Yield
(Equiv Mt)


M4B 32 6 x 0.150 TN-71 192 28.8 54.2
M45 32 6 x 0.100 TN-75 192 19.2 41.4
L'Inflexible Class Submarine 2 16 x M4B
Le Triomphant Class Submarine 2 16 x M45


Mirage 2000N 45 1 x 0.30 (ASMP w/TN-81) 45 13.5 20.2
Super Etendard 24 1 x 0.30 (ASMP w/TN-81) 20 6 9.0

Grand Total

133 449 67.5 124.8


French Delivery Systems and Characteristics

Delivery Systems

Entry into Service



(CEP, m)

Warhead Number and Type


MSBS M4B 1985/87 6000 6 x TN 71 (150 kt)
MSBS M45 1996 6000 6 x TN 75 (100 kt)
L'Inflexible Class Submarine 16 x M4B
Le Triomphant Class Submarine 16 x M45


Mirage 2000N 1988 2750 1 x ASMP TN 81 (300 kt)
Super Etendard 1978 650 1 x ASMP TN 81 (300 kt)

Cruise Missiles

ASMP 1986 90 300/ 1 x TN 81 65 1986 300 1 x TN 81 (300 kt)
Notes French Nuclear Installations

Just as the old AEC once did on the United States, the CEA administers all nuclear activities in France. Military programs are controlled by the Military Application Division (Direction des Applications Militaires, or DAM), which was created on 12 September 1958. There are six DAM research centers (Centre d'Etudes) for the research, design, and development of warheads as well as their manufacture and assembly. The DAM is also responsible for the production of weapon grade nuclear materials.

Centre d'Etudes de Limeil-Valenton
Located in Villeneuvre-Sain-Georges, 15 km southeast of Paris, this is "France's Los Alamos" the central weapon design laboratory. The site is an ancient fortress that was appropriated for atomic weapons work on 3 September 1951. The first French nuclear device was assembled there, at Batterie de Limeil, and on 1 January 1960 it became Centre d'Etudes de Limeil. It expanded until it overran the commune of Valenton, and now comprises 12.5 hectares. It has a staff of about 950.

Centre d'Etudes de Valduc
This research center is "France's Pantex", the site were weapons are actually assembled and disassembled. It is near Is-sur-Tille on the Cote-d'Or, 25 km north of Dijon. It was established in 1958. In 1986 it employed over 1000 people. In addition to weapons manufacture, it processes waste products from weapons manufacture and conducts high pressure research on nuclear materials (e.g. plutonium). It is equipped with a high pressure gas gun for shock compression studies.

Centre d'Etudes du Ripault
Located in Mont-sur-Guesnes, in the Indre-et-Loire, 30 km south of Chinon, this center manufactures high explosives components (detonators, insensitive and liquid high explosives, etc.), performs stockpile maintenance functions, and has an accident response team. It was established in 1962 and now occupies 103 hectares. It has over 80,000 square meters of buildings and employs about 800 people.

Centre d'Etudes Scientifiques et Techniques d'Aquitaine (CESTA)
This research center is located in Le Barp in the Gironde, 30 km southwest of Bordeaux. It is France's equivalent of Sandia Laboratories - it performs militarization and production engineering functions for warhead designs developed by Limeil-Valenton. It was established in 1965 and occupies 700 hectares in the forest between Bordeaux and Arcachon.

Centre d'Etudes de Bruyeres-le-Chatel (CEB)
This research center is situated 35 km south of Paris, west of Arpajon in the Essone. It was established in 1957 and occupies 35 hectares. The Centre's activities include research on metallurgy, chemistry, electronics, seismology, toxicology, and the diagnostic measurement of nuclear explosions.

Centre d'Etudes de Vaujours-Moronvilliers
Located 17 km northwest of Paris at Vaujours in the Seine-Saint-Denis, this Centre was created in 1955. It performs explosive and high pressure research. It is equipped with shock tubes and high pressure light gas guns.

France's uranium enrichment plant, based on gaseous diffusion, was located near the village of Pierrelatte (Drome), on the Rhone river about 80 miles northeast of Marseille. The gaseous diffusion program began in 1953, and following a successful demonstration of a pilot plant at Saclay in 1958, approval for a full-scale plant was given. A diffusion barrier plant was built in 1960. In 1964 the first of four sections of the plant became operational, producing 2% enriched uranium. The next three sections reached full operation in late 1965, early 1966, and April 1967. when the fourth and last section became operational the plant became producing weapon grade uranium. The plat stopped producing highly enriched uranium in 1996. The last two sections were shut down in 1998, when the plant began to be dismantled.

The main facility for the production of plutonium for military purposes is the complex located at Marcoule, in the commune of Bagnols-sur-Ceze in the Gard. Founded in 1952, Marcoule was equipped with France's first plutonium production reactor, the natural uranium fueled, graphite moderated, gas-cooled G1 reactor, and its first plutonium separation plant, known as UP1. Plutonium production for weapons use ceased in 1992. Larger versions of the G1 known as G2 and G3, 250 MW each, were built in the mid-late fifties. These three reactors accounted for about half of France's total military plutonium production. Also located Marcoule are the 190 MW (thermal) Celestin I and II reactors, and the Phenix prototype breeder reactor. The Celestin reactors are heavy water designs fueled with plutonium (originally) and later with enriched uranium. These reactors have been used for civilian isotope, tritium, and military plutonium production. The 563 MW (thermal) Phenix was intended as a prototype for larger breeder power reactors, but its plutonium production appears to have been primarily for military purposes.

The G1 reactor went critical 7 January 1956, reached full power (40 MW thermal) September 1956, and was decommissioned October 1968. G1, and its larger sister reactors G2 and G3, were dual-purpose - producing both plutonium and electrical power. G2 and G3 were both 250 MW (the same size as the original Hanford reactors in the U.S.). G2 went critical July 1958, reached full power in March 1959, and was decommissioned February 1980. G3 went critical June 1959 and was decommissioned July 1984.

The first Celestin reactor went in to operation in May 1967, and the second in October 1968. Originally dedicated to radioisotope and tritium production, they began producing military plutonium by the mid-70s. Around the decommissioning of G2 it appears their function became primarily military plutonium production. Since 1991 they have been alternating operation, only one operating at any given time. Since military plutonium production was discontinued in France in 1992, presumably these reactors are now being used primarily for tritium production again. They are expected to remain in service at least until the end of the century. These reactors have the capacity to produce some 1.5 kg of tritium annually. In their current alternate operation mode they could be producing 750 g a year, an ample amount to maintain the current and planned French arsenal (which probably requires less than 200 g annually).

Phenix started operation in 1973 and is still in service. It could have produced up to 1400 kg of military plutonium by the end of 1997, but actual production is probably substantial less.

Construction on UP1 began July 1955 and the plant reached full operation in January 1958. UP1 employed the Purex solvent extraction process. By August 1984 it had reprocessed over 10,000 tonnes of gas-cooled reactor fuel and separated more than 2.5 tonnes of military plutonium. Production of plutonium halted at UP1 in 1992, and the dismantlement of the plant began in 1998.

La Hague
A second plutonium separation plant called UP2 was built at La Hague near Cherbourg in Normandy. UP2 started operation in 1966, and can handle 800 tonnes of spent fuel a year.

Other Reactor Sites
France does not separate its civilian and military weapons programs, and has produced substantial quantities of military plutonium from civilian power reactors. Among the reactors believed to have made substantial contributions to the military stockpile are Chinon-1, Chinon-2, Chinon-3, St. Laurent-1, St. Laurent-2, and Bugey-1. The amount is highly uncertain, ranging from 500 kg to 2000 kg.

Principal sources for the section on France are:

7.2.5 China

Given the People's Republic of China's size in terms of geography (third in the world, only slightly behind Canada), population (number one), and economy (second largest in the world by 1999 CIA equivalent purchasing power estimates, with current growth rates in the high single digits), it seems inevitable that China (also called the PRC) will become the dominant power in the world within a few decades. China's leaders are acutely aware of this fact, and are also acutely aware that except for the last few centuries, China has consistently been the most powerful and advanced society in the world for 3500 years. They undoubtedly intend that China will have military capabilities commensurate with this once and future status.

Over the years China has certainly invested a much smaller amount of resources (although not necessarily a much smaller proportion of its resources) to developing and deploying nuclear weapons than either of the two superpowers. The exact size and composition of its nuclear forces is very difficult to determine however due to strict secrecy. Force structure estimates consequently are rather uncertain, and published estimates are even a bit mysterious. It is hard to assess the ultimate source or reliability of the data provided.

Since the cut-off of aid to its nuclear weapons program in 1960 by the Soviet Union, most of the technology used on the program has been developed indigenously. There has been (and continues to be) considerable concern in the West about the export of this technology to non-nuclear powers interested in acquiring these weapons. China is known to have given Pakistan considerable assistance, possibly including actual warhead designs. Recent concern has focused on Chinese deals with Iran. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, China has turned its interest to obtaining more advanced nuclear technology from the successor to its old mentor. Nihon Keizai Shimbun has reported that China bought computer simulation technology for nuclear warheads from Russia during the mid-90s.

To date China has conducted many fewer nuclear tests than the United States or the Soviet Union/Russia (less than 5% as many as either) and this discrepancy accounts for China's initial reluctance to sign on to a permanent ban of all nuclear tests at the CTBT negotiations, although these reservations have now been overcome since the conclusion of China's final test series

The final test series concluded in the spring and summer of 1996. According to Japanese government sources (reported in Nihon Keizai Shimbun), the penultimate underground Chinese nuclear test on 8 June 1996 (calculated at 20 to 80 kilotons) was actually a simultaneous detonation of multiple warheads (a common practice by both the U.S. and USSR). It was said to be part of a program to produce smaller warheads for submarine-launched and multiple-targeted missiles. Overall, the yields since 1990 have suggested that two warheads have been in development: one in the 100-300 kt range, and one in the 600-700 kt range.

China's last nuclear test was detonated at 0149 GMT (9:49 p.m. EDT) on 29 July 1996. According to the Australia Geological Survey Organization in Canberra its yield was 1 to 5 kilotons, with a seismic magnitude of Mb 4.3. This was China's 45th test, and its 22nd underground one.

It is believed that with the conclusion of this series, China has completed development of a range of warheads similar to the state of the art weapons developed by the other major nuclear powers. These would be miniaturized hardened thermonuclear warheads with yields in the tens to hundreds of kilotons, as well as warheads with variable yield options, and enhanced radiation ("neutron bomb") warheads.

The subject of China's neutron bomb capability has been the subject of considerable public attention over the last several years. China reportedly conducted a successful test of a neutron bomb on 29 September 1988; in March 2000 a Chinese military newspaper threatened to use neutron bombs to capture Taiwan if it declared independence. But most of the attention has centered on alleged connections with the theft of nuclear secrets from the United States.

Allegations have circulated for over 20 years that U.S. nuclear weapon technology has been leaked to China. CIA Director George Tenet reported in the 1999 "Intelligence Community Damage Assessment" on Chinese spying, that China "obtained information on a variety of U.S. weapon design concepts and weaponization features, including those of the neutron bomb."

As was reported by Dan Stober in the 13 April 2000 San Jose Mercury News, in 1981 Gwo-Bao Min, a nuclear weapons engineer in the D-Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was forced to resign form the laboratory due to suspicions about having provided China with information about U.S. neutron bomb technology from the W-70 warhead. According to Stober:

Exactly how the government discovered the loss of neutron bomb secrets to China and what led investigators to Min remain a secret.Sources outside the FBI say the agency is protecting its source, which could be a spy or the clandestine interception of an electronic communication.
Min continued to be investigated after his resignation by an FBI operation known as "Tiger Trap". Stober interviewed a number of officials familiar with the case:
"We did not design nuclear warheads (in D-Division), but we had access to all that stuff," said one of Min's co-workers. "They're classified documents and you go down and check them out. There's a classified library and you sign your name to show what you checked out."

"If the information was compromised, (the damage) could have been quite severe," said Houston T. Hawkins, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons who is the top intelligence official at Los Alamos. Hawkins directs the group that wrote the "damage assessment" in the wake of the Tiger Trap case".

Although no prosecution ever developed from Tiger Trap, a December 1982 phone call between Min and Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee emerged as an important piece in the infamous case against Lee two decades later.

Walter Pincus and Vernon Loeb reported in stories published in the Washington Post on 8 April and 9 May 1999 that in 1997 another Chinese-American scientist named Peter H. Lee had been arrested and pled guilty to verbally passing classified nuclear weapons information to Chinese scientists while he was employed as a physicist at Los Alamos. Like Wen Ho Lee (who is unrelated), Peter Lee is a naturalized citizen born in Taiwan. The 1985 incident for which he was convicted involved a briefing Lee gave seven or more top Chinese nuclear scientists for two hours in a small conference room at another Beijing hotel. According to Pincus and Loeb;

"He talked about laser fusion and even discussed problems the United States was having in its nuclear weapons simulation program. He drew diagrams and supplied specifications. He explained test data. And he described at least one portion of a classified paper he had written, knowing that his disclosures violated the law.

"In December 1997 -- more than 12 years after the events, and after a six-year FBI investigation that included agents tapping his phones for months, reading his e-mail and his personal diaries, trailing him to China and conducting a polygraph -- Lee finally confessed and pleaded guilty. He was not paid by the Chinese for information, receiving only some travel expenses in 1997, and there was no evidence he disclosed classified information other than what he, himself, had described".

Ironically even though Peter Lee pled to passing classified defense information to unauthorized recipients (for which he was sentenced in March 1998 to a five-year prison term, suspended in favor of 12 months in a halfway house, a $20,000 fine and 3,000 hours of community service), by the time of his arrest much of the information on laser fusion had been declassified (in 1993). But a DOE impact analysis of Lee's disclosures completed in February 1998 held that the information "was of significant material assistance to the PRC in their nuclear weapons development program, ... This analysis indicates that Dr. Lee's activities have directly enhanced the PRC nuclear weapons program to the detriment of U.S. national security." Lee had also revealed current classified information to Chinese scientists in 1997 about his work at TRW involving space radar imaging of submarines.

By far the most celebrated case of actual and alleged Chinese-American nuclear espionage involved the case against Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. This saga grew out of a strange incident in 1995, in which a Chinese intelligence agent walked in to a U.S. diplomatic office unannounced and handed over a collection of highly classified Chinese documents, which included a 1988 Chinese document that made reference to design features of America's miniaturized nuclear warheads. The CIA later concluded that, for unknown reasons, this "walk-in" had acted at the direction of Chinese intelligence.

Of particular interest were some design details of the W-88 warhead, America's most sophisticated design. The details fell far short of evidence that China had obtained anything close to a complete design however, a fact that was often ignored in the later controversy, and it transpired could have been obtained from documents about the warhead distributed at many sites around the country and accessible to thousands of people. Nonetheless, because the warhead design had originated at Los Alamos, an FBI investigation focused there, and because Wen Ho Lee was the only Chinese-American employed in the X-Division, he quickly became the focus of the investigation. Lee's early appearance in Tiger Trap essentially clenched him as the prime (and sole) suspect in the eyes of Department of Energy investigator Notra Trulock.

The Wen Ho Lee investigation was kicked into hyperdrive when the Cox Committee, organized to investigate the transmission of space and missile technology to China, got wind of it and hastily added a sensationalized section on nuclear weapon espionage to the committees final report in December 1998. Virtually no attention was paid to Chinese nuclear spying allegations until a front-page 6 March 1999 New York Times story about the investigation. DOE Secretary Richardson fired Wen Ho Lee two days later. During the next 18 months circumspection was rarely seen in pronouncements made politicians, pundits, and officials. The extravagant claims made about Lee and supposed intelligence compromises led to Lee's arrest, extended imprisonment in solitary confinement, threats of capital punishment, and sworn testimony by government witnesses that was later admitted to be false. In the end the espionage case utterly collapsed with no evidence of spying by Lee ever having been found. Finally a plea agreement was reached on 13 September 2000 in which Lee pleaded guilty to one count of improperly handling classified information and was released.

As far as can be determined from publicly available information, there appears to be no real evidence of China obtaining actual nuclear warhead designs from the U.S. At most the information seems to have been information about warhead design and technology, possibly quite sketchy, that would help guide Chinese research and development down the most productive tracks. Without detailed designs of warheads ("blueprints"), Chinese weapons would necessarily be based on indigenous designs even if they incorporated design features and concepts derived from U.S. systems. Current Nuclear Forces

China's nuclear delivery system program's have traditionally proceeded very slowly. This has resulted in the deployment of forces that have been one to two decades behind the other nuclear powers in technology (although cause and effect may be reversed, lack of advanced technology may have been the cause of such tardy deployments). It is believed that fewer than 250 ballistic missiles have ever been deployed (with only the first cryogenic liquid fuel missile having been retired). The vast majority of China's arsenal is not capable of reaching the United States, and thus seems geared towards deterring (or threatening) its immediate neighbors.

The oldest weapon in China's missile arsenal, the single stage liquid fueled DF-3 deployed in 1971, is gradually being retired. The DF-3 has a range of 2800 km. The DF-4 missile has a range of 4750 km, making it capable of reaching any part of Russia.

Current estimates assert that only about 20 ICBMs are in service - the Dong Feng (East Wind)-5A. This figure is surprising in light of China's ability to produce the same basic booster in larger numbers as the Long March 2 satellite launcher. The U.S. government has stated that in 1981 there were DF-5As deployed in hardened silos at two sites. It is thought to carry the largest warhead ever tested by China (4-5 Mt).

China has placed little emphasis on aircraft as a strategic weapon carrier. The Hong-6 and Qian-5 are short-medium range, light payload aircraft suitable more for tactical or regional-strategic operations. The main bomber, the Hong-6, is based on the Tu-16 Badger which entered Soviet service in 1955 and first flew in China on 27 September 1959. This plane was used to drop two live nuclear weapons in tests: a fission bomb in May 1965 and a megaton-range thermonuclear bomb in June 1967.

The Xian Aircraft Company has been developing the Hong-7 (FB-7), a supersonic fighter-bomber, for over 10 years, but no date has been given for its deployment. The most attractive possibility for modernization of the air arm is simply to purchase advanced fighter bombers from Russia (where they are readily available on easy terms) and modify them to carry Chinese nuclear weapons. China has already purchased 24 Su-27SK and 2 Su-27UBK Flankers (in 1992). Russia has also sold production rights for the Su-27 to China, and an assembly plant has been set up at Shenyang. The first two Chinese-made SU-27s flew in December 1998. China plans to build at least 200 SU-27s over the next 15 years. There is no information available to indicate that they have been assigned a nuclear role however.

China has had a rather unsuccessful ballistic missile submarine program. China has only one operational ballistic missile submarine, the Xia (No. 406). This 6500 ton nuclear-powered boat was laid down in 1978, and launched in April 1981 from the Huludao Shipyard and Naval Base on the northern Bohai Gulf but achieved operational status only with great difficulty. The first attempt to fire a missile from the Xia failed in 1985, and it entered service only after a successful test launch was conducted on 27 September 1988. It was deployed to the Jianggezhuang Submarine Base, where the nuclear warheads for the missiles are believed to be stored, in January 1989. A second submarine was reportedly launched in 1982, but is not now in service. Unsubstantiated reports claim it was lost in a 1985 accident. The Xia underwent a modernization refit beginning in 1995. It has never sailed beyond China's regional waters and is believed incapable of deployment to distant areas. The submarine is armed with the Julang-1 (Giant Wave, or Tsunami) two-stage solid fuel missile, which was first test fired 30 April 1982. The Julang-1 was adapted to land service as the DF-21 (CSS-5). There will very probably be no more submarines of this class. A new design (Type 094) submarine, to be equipped with the longer range three stage Julang-2, a variant of the DF-31, is been under development for several years but probably won't see deployment for several more.

Much less is known about Chinese tactical nuclear weapons, which are believed to comprise a large part of the Chinese nuclear arsenal. The neutron bomb claimed by China is strictly a tactical weapon (designed for use against armored vehicles). China has conducted a number of low yield tests that may have been tactical weapons, and a large military exercise incorporating simulated nuclear weapons was held in June 1982. China's M-family of tactical ballistic missiles, the M-9, M-11 and M-18, are believed to be nuclear capable. Taiwanese officials have said that over the last four years the number of M-family missiles in China's three southern provinces nearby, have increased from 30-50 to 160-200 today. Estimates of Chinese tactical warheads range from 100 to 200, with yields from a few kilotons to hundreds of kilotons.

Chinese Tactical Forces: End of 2000

Delivery Systems

Entry into Service



(CEP, m)

Warhead Number and Type

Launcher Number

M-9 1988 600 300 Single HE or nuclear ?
M-11 1988 300 < 300 ?
M-18 1990s? Single HE or nuclear ?

Grand Total

120 [1]


1. Nuclear armed.

Chinese Strategic Forces: End of 2000

Weapon Designations

Launcher Number

Warhead Loading
(Number x Mt)

Warhead Number

Total Yield
(Gross Mt)

Total Yield
(Equiv Mt)


Land Based Missiles

Dong Feng-3A (DF-3A)
40 1 x 2-3.3, or 3 MRV 50-100 kt 40 6-132 16.3-88.7
Dong Feng-4 (DF-4)
20 1 x 2-3.3 20 40-66 31.7-44.3
Dong Feng-5A (DF-5A)
20 1 x 4-5 20 80-100 50.4-58.4
Dong Feng-21A (DF-21A)
48 1 x 0.20-0.50 48 9.6-24 16.4-30.2
Dong Feng-31 (DF-31) 0 MIRV x ? 0 0 0


Julang (JL)-1
12 1 x 0.20-0.50 12 2.4-6 4.1-7.6
Xia Class Submarine 1 12 x JL-1


Hong-6 (H-6);
B-6 (NATO)
120 1-3 x bomb 120 kt to Mt (120 [2]) 120 [2]
Qian-5 (Q-5);
A-5 (NATO)
30 1 x bomb 30 kt to Mt (30 [2]) 30 [2]

Grand Total

288-478 269-379


1. Equivalent megatonnage (EMT) is based on the relative blast effect and is calculated by Y2/3 where Y is the yield in megatons.
2. Assumes 1 Mt nominal average yield (both gross and EMT).

Chinese Delivery Systems and Characteristics

Delivery Systems

Entry into Service



(CEP, m)

Warhead Number and Type

Land-Based Missiles

Dong Feng-3A (DF-3A)
1971 2800 2150 1000 1 x 2-3.3 Mt, or 3 MRV 50-100 kt
Dong Feng-4 (DF-4)
1980 4750 2200 1 x 2-3.3 Mt
Dong Feng-5A (DF-5A)
1981 13000 3200 500 1 x 4-5 Mt
Dong Feng-21A (DF-21A)
1985 1800 600 1 x 0.20-0.50 Mt
Dong Feng-31 (DF-31) 2001? 8000 MIRV x ?
New ICBM 2010? 12-13000 MIRV x ?


Julang (JL)-1
1987 1700 600 1 x 0.20-0.50 Mt
Xia Class Submarine 1987 12 x JL-1
Julang (JL)-2
2010? 8000 600 1 x 0.20-0.50 Mt


Hong-6 (H-6);
B-6 (NATO)
1965 3100 4500 1-3 x bomb (kt to Mt)
Qian-5 (Q-5);
A-5 (NATO)
1970 400 1500 1 x bomb (kt to Mt)

Principal sources for the section on China are:

7.2.6 India

That India can build nuclear weapons has been an established fact since 8:05 18 May 1974 (IST), when India exploded a 6-10 kt plutonium bomb 107 meters underground in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. This test, known as "Smiling Buddha", the PNE (for "Peaceful Nuclear Explosive") or (now) Pokhran-I, was located at 27.095 deg N, 71.752 E, which is usually identified as being "Pokhran" (or "Pokaharan"), the name of a town that is 24.8 km southeast from the test site.

India maintained at the time, and long afterward that the test was for peaceful purposes, and that it possessed no nuclear arsenal. As one of the principal scientists on the project (who was also a former junior Defense Minister, and a former director of BARC - the "Indian Los Alamos"), Raja Ramanna conceded on 10 October 1997 the former was never true. The Press Trust of India quoted him as saying "The Pokhran test was a bomb, I can tell you now." He was also quoted as saying later: "An explosion is an explosion, a gun is a gun, whether you shoot at someone or shoot at the ground." He said the "peaceful" label had come "from the political side", adding: "I just want to make clear that the test was not all that peaceful."

But surprisingly, the latter contention - that India had no nuclear arsenal - remained true for more than a decade after Pokhran-I.

A key motivation for India's nuclear program is its concern about nuclear-armed China, which faces India along much of its northern border. Disputes about this border exist: China currently occupies the Aksai Chin plateau adjacent to Ladakh, Kashmir in Northwest India; India occupies the North-East Frontier Agency claimed by China. In October 1962 China invaded India, an attack that India was powerless to respond to (China eventually withdrew voluntarily later that year). Although China and India have had better relations in recent years, the rise of China's economic and military strength, coupled with the simultaneous decline of Russia which had acted as a counterweight to China, has caused India to view China as a long-term strategic threat. India has also fought repeatedly with Pakistan since 1947, and holds Kashmir - Muslim inhabited territory claimed by Pakistan. Pakistan's own nuclear program now serves as justification for perpetuating India's own program, although Pakistan did not acquire weapon capability until a decade after India's nuclear test. India also has aspirations to being a major power on the Asian continent, and a major player in world affairs, and views nuclear weapons as a necessary component of acquiring this status.

Although India first tested a nuclear explosive in 1974 it did not become a nuclear weapons state - in the sense of having the ability to deliver nuclear weapons until 1986-88 when, according to Dr. Sanjay Badri-Maharaj author of The Armageddon Factor, a rudimentary delivery system was in place [Indian Express, 18 June 2000]. This presumably refers to a developmental delivery system based on the Mirage 2000 that began development in 1986, after an attempt to integrate a DRDO developed nuclear bomb with the Jaguar fighter-bomber failed. This system provided India with a usable but limited nuclear weapons capability, but the weapon system did not actually enter service until it passed a full field drop test in May 1994 at Balasore, though most observers thought that this milestone had been passed years before.

The US CIA testified before congress in 1993 that it did not believe that India maintains assembled or deployed nuclear weapons, although it believed India was producing weapon components. The CIA's HUMINT (human intelligence, as opposed to electronic intelligence) regarding India's nuclear program is famously poor however (witness the U.S. intelligence communities surprise about the 1998 tests) so it cannot be accorded great weight; nonetheless it could be true that in 1993 India still had not taken the step of maintaining weapons in a ready-to-use state. There is a vague report though [Chengappa 2000; pg. 418] of "a few" weapons existing as early as the early 1980s. Chengappa relates that hardened concrete bunkers were built in the early 1980s at Mumbai to house India's weapons plutonium stocks, and a few weapons. Gen Sundarji was shown these weapons in the mid-80s, an unusual step since the military chiefs of staff had not been briefed on India's nuclear capability even as late as 1990. These weapons may not have been kept fully assembled, but there is little doubt that India could have made them ready in a matter of hours (or days at the most). Current Nuclear Forces
India has several aircraft that are nominally considered "nuclear capable", the Mirage 2000, Mig-27, and the Jaguar. Due to the cost of integrating and qualifying an aircraft for nuclear delivery, and maintaining a cadre of specially trained pilots, it is unlikely that India would choose to deploy nuclear weapons on more than one or two aircraft types. Only the Mirage 2000 is known to have been qualified as a nuclear delivery platform, and the Jaguar is known to have been abandoned for nuclear weapons delivery due to technical problems. Thus it may be that the Mirage 2000 remains the sole air breathing nuclear weapon delivery system.

India has developed short and medium-range nuclear-capable missiles. These are the Prithvi (range 250 km, payload 500 kg), and the Agni-II (range 2500 km, payload 1000 kg).

The first operational capability of a missile deliverable nuclear warhead was probably soon after the official deployment of the Prithvi SS-250 missiles in September 1997, which occurred after the successful completion of integration and testing of the warhead and missile during 1996-97. Reportedly four nuclear armed Prithvis were deployed during the Kargil War in June 1999. Also during this war was the first deployment of the medium range Agni-II, apparently consisting of a single preproduction model. The Agni-II was not qualified for full production and deployment until after the second Agni-II test occurred on 17 January 2001 at 10:01 a.m. IST (Indian Standard Time) when it was tested in its final deployment configuration.

India reportedly is investigating development of an ICBM-class missile called Suriya (or Surya) with a range of over 6000 km.

There are no official figures for weapon stockpiles at any stage of development of India's arsenal. The only figures that can be offered are either explicit estimates made from considerations of India's probable ability to produce critical raw materials and considerations of likely production plans; or are unofficial statements of uncertain provenance and authenticity. To show the problems with figures of the latter sort we have only to look at the statement by K. Subrahmanyam, a leading strategic theorist, that by 1990 India had stockpiled at least two dozen unassembled weapons, versus the May 1998 estimate by G. Balachandran, an Indian nuclear researcher, that India had fewer than 10 weapons ready to be assembled and mounted on warplanes or missiles.

The types of weapons India is believed to have available for its arsenal include:

All of these types should be available based on the tests conducted during Operation Shakti (Pokhran-II). It may be possible to extrapolate significantly from these device classes however without further testing. There is reasonable doubt about whether the thermonuclear device actually performed as designed. Even if this so, it does not rule out the possiblity that sufficent test data was collected to field a successful design with reasonable confidence of good performance. Interest has been expressed in the development of a neutron bomb (a very low yield tactical thermonuclear device), but this would probably require additional testing to perfect.

The most widely accepted estimates of India's plutonium production have been made by David Albright. His most recent estimate (October 2000) was that by the end of 1999 India had available between 240 and 395 kg of weapon grade plutonium for weapons production, with a median value of 310 kg. He suggests that this is sufficient for 45 - 95 weapons (median estimate 65). The production of weapon grade plutonium has actually been greater, but about 130 kg of plutonium has been consumed - principally in fueling two plutonium reactors, but also in weapons tests. His estimate for India's holdings of less-than-weapons-grade plutonium (reactor or fuel grade plutonium) are 4200 kg of unsafeguarded plutonium (800 kg of this already separated) and 4100 kg of IAEA safeguarded plutonium (25 kg of this separated). This unsafeguarded quantity could be used to manufacture roughly 1000 nuclear weapons, if India so chose (which would give it the third largest arsenal in the world, behind only the U.S. and Russia).

Indian Delivery Systems and Characteristics

Delivery Systems

Entry into





Warhead Number
and Type

Land-Based Missiles

Agni-I 1999? 1500 1000 10? 1 x > 15 kt?; 200 kt?
Agni-II 2000 2500-3000 1000 3-4? 1 x > 15 kt?; 200 kt?
Agni-III 2005? 3500-5000 1000 3-4? 1 x > 15 kt?; 200 kt?
SS-150 Prithvi 1997 150 1000 15 20? 1 x 12 kt
SS-250 Prithvi-2 2001? 250 500-750 25 0 1 x 12 kt
Dhanush 2003? 350 500 35 0 1 x 12 kt


Mirage 2000 1988 1 x 12 kt bomb
Notes Existing Weapon Infrastructure
The center piece of India's nuclear weapons program is the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) in Trombay near Mumbai (Bombay) which is the center for nuclear weapons associated work. BARC was founded as the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) on 3 January 1954 by Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha. Bhabha was the also the founder India's entire nuclear industry and infrastructure, and India's first Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) when it was created on 3 August 1954. In its early years BARC was already a very large, but primarily civilian-oriented nuclear research laboratory. When India's first nuclear device was designed and fabricated at there, the work was conducted surreptitiously (often at night) to hide it from the rest of the laboratory. But in May 2000 a watershed was reached in this tension between civilian and military work when the civilian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) which had been exercising regulatory oversight was split off from BARC. As S. Rajagopal oberved, an expert on nuclear affairs and a professor of the Bangalore-based National Institute of Advanced Studies, this decision effectively reclassified BARC as a nuclear weapons laboratory - a laboratory with a primarily military function though also conducting civilian oriented work in a model similar to the U.S. weapons labs. But without much of the civilian oversight and management that the U.S. labs have.

BARC is the site of the two reactors used for weapons-grade plutonium production: the 40 MW CIRUS (Canadian-Indian-U.S.) reactor, and the 100 MW reactor named R-5, but usually called "Dhruva". Both of these are heavy water moderated and cooled natural uranium reactors.

CIRUS was supplied by Canada in 1954, but uses heavy water supplied by the U.S. (hence its name). The reactor is not under IAEA safeguards (which did not exist when the reactor was sold), although Canada stipulated, and the U.S. supply contract for the heavy water explicitly specified, that it only be used for peaceful purposes. Nonetheless CIRUS has produced much of India's weapon plutonium stockpile, as well as the plutonium for India's 1974 Pokhran-I nuclear test. India argued in 1974 that the contract allows its use in producing peaceful nuclear explosives, which is how it characterized this explosion, though in recent years the project director Raja Ramanna has conceded that this was a sham. CIRUS reactor achieved criticality on 10 July 1960. It can produce 6.6-10.5 kg of plutonium a year (at a capacity factor of 50-80%).

In 1977 work began on the larger Dhruva plutonium production reactor, which was developed indigenous but based on the Canadian supplied technology. It was commissioned on 8 August 1985 but startup problems caused by resonance vibrations from the cooling system damaged fuel assemblies soon required shutdown. After modifications were made (spring clips to damp fuel rod vibration) it began operating at one-quarter power in December 1986 and reached full operation in mid-January 1988. It operates at 100 MW and is capable of producing 16-26 kg of plutonium annually (at a capacity factor of 50-80%).

An additional possible source of plutonium are a number of unsafeguarded CANDU power reactors,including Madras Atomic Power Stations (MAPS, known as Madras I and II, or MAPS-I and MAPS-II); the Narora Atomic Power Stations (NAPS, known as NAPS-I and NAPS-II), and the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS). Like CIRUS and Dhruva, the CANDU reactors are heavy-water moderated natural uranium reactors that can be used effectively for weapon-grade plutonium production. The possible production by MAPS is much larger than CIR and Dhruva combined, although the fuel burnup in power reactors of this type normally produces lower grade plutonium that is less desirable for weapons. Each power station reactor could produce up to 160 kg/yr (at a 60% capacity factor). It is uncertain how practical it is to operate MAPS for weapons grade plutonium production, although even the reactor-grade output has weapons potential. If supergrade plutonium were produced at BARC by short irradiation periods, it could be mixed with MAPS plutonium to extend the plutonium supply. As of November 1998 India had a total of 10 small power reactors operating, with 4 under construction and due to begin operation in 1999, but with 12 more planned or under construction that would boost electrical output by another 5100 MW.

Nuclear power supplied 2.65 percent of India's electricity in 1999 and this is expected to reach 10 per cent by 2005. Expectations for nuclear power growth have consistently fallen far short of goals for over 30 years, so this percentage is likely to continue to grow slowly. India's nuclear power program proceeds almost entirely without fuel or technological assistance from other countries. Partly as a result its power reactors have been among the worst-performing in the world (with regard to capacity factors), reflecting the technical difficulties of the country's isolation, but are apparently now improving significantly. Its industry is largely without IAEA safeguards, though a few plants are under facility-specific safeguards.

In February 2001 India had 14 small nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, two larger ones under construction and ten more planned. The 14 operating ones comprise:

The separated plutonium for the 1974 test was produced at the separation plant in Trombay, near to Bombay, capable of processing 50 tonnes of heavy metal fuel/yr. Construction on the first facility there began in the 1950s, and began operating in 1964. In 1974 it was shut down for repair and expansion and reopened in 1983 or 1984. Trombay handles the fuel from both the Cirus and Dhruva reactors. India also can separate plutonium in the Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing (PREFRE) facility. This plutonium separation plant was built at Tarapur, north of Bombay, and began operating in 1979. The plant has encountered operating problems, but India reports having overcome these by 1990. The nominal annual capacity is given as 100-150 tonnes of CANDU fuel. A much larger plant is now under construction at Kalpakkam sufficient to handle all existing reactors.

Given its immense thorium resources, India is actively interested in developing the thorium/U-233 fuel cycle. India is known to have produced kilogram quantities of U-233 by irradiating thorium in CIR, Dhruva, and MAPS reactors. Substantial production of U-233 is not practical though with natural uranium fueled reactors. The thorium cycle requires more highly enriched fuel to have an acceptable breeding ratio with the non-fissile thorium blanket. Reactor-grade plutonium from MAPS could serve as start-up fuel for U-233 plants in the future. If available U-233 is as effective a weapon material as plutonium.

India has been developing the capability to produce heavy water domestically to provide the moderator load for future reactors. The heavy water for almost all existing reactors was imported however. The 110 tonnes of unsafeguarded moderator for Dhruva and Madras I and II were ironically provided by China.

India has acquired and developed centrifuge technology and built centrifuge enrichment plants in Trombay and Mysore in the 1980s. The larger Rare Metals Plant (RMP), as it is called, at Mysore has a cascade capable of producing 30% enriched uranium in kilogram quantities, beginning in 1992-93, although reliability has been a problem. These enrichment plants appear to have no role in India's power reactor development plans, so they may be intended to offset the prestige of Pakistan's enrichment capability, or to provide additional standby weapons production capability. India has reported that it plans to build an enriched uranium reactor, and a domestically fueled nuclear submarine.

India's interest in light weight weapon design can be surmised from BARC's acquisition in the 1980s of a vacuum hot pressing machine, suitable for forming large high-quality beryllium forgings, as well as large amounts of high purity beryllium metal. India is known to manufacture tritium, and may have developed designs for fusion-boosted weapons.

India is not a signatory to NPT and has opposed the treaty as discriminatory to non-weapons states. India has previously taken the position that a world-wide ban on nuclear testing, and the production of fissionable material for weapons is called for. Except for China, which continues testing, there is now a de facto halt to testing worldwide, as well as the production of weapons grade plutonium and uranium by the US and Russia. India has shown no interest so far in restricting its own activities despite these changes in the world situation. India has also rejected offers at bilateral negotiation with Pakistan, but in December 1988 the two nations signed an agreement prohibiting attacks on each other's nuclear installations and informing each other of their locations (though not their purposes). Planned Nuclear Forces
Nothing is publicly known about official Indian nuclear force planning, but assessments made by opinion leaders provide a context for judging the prevailing attitude in Indian government circles

India's first effort to formulate a nuclear policy and the determine the means needed to implement it was an informal but authoritative study group that was set up in November 1985 to answer queries by Rajiv Gandhi regarding defense planning. It encompassed the three services (Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Tahliani, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. K. Sundarji, Deputy Cheif of Air Staff John Greene), leaders of BARC (Ramanna), the DRDO (Abdul Kalam), and the AEC (Chidambaram), and India's most prominent strategic analyst K. Subrahmanyam. The outcome of the group's deliberations was to recommend building a minimum deterrent force with a strict no first use policy. The arsenal envisioned was 70 to 100 warheads at a cost of about $5.6 billion.

In 1994 K. Subrahmanyam suggested that a force of 60 warheads carried on 20 Agnis, 20 Prithvis and the rest on aircraft would cost about Rs 10 billion over 10 years. In 1996 Sundarji suggested a cost of some Rs 27.5 billion -- Rs 6 billion for 150 warheads, Rs 3.6 billion for 45 Prithvis and Rs 18 billion for 90 Agni missiles.

7.2.7 Pakistan

Pakistan undertook a program to develop nuclear weapons on 24 January 1972, scant weeks after its crushing defeat by India in the 1971 Bangladesh war. On this date President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto committed Pakistan to a nuclear weapon program at a meeting held in Multan. The program initially focused on acquiring plutonium production capability through foreign assistance - in a manner similar to the Israeli and Indian nuclear programs. But following the May 1974 Indian nuclear test, the Pakistani program was ham-strung by the international restrictions on plutonium production technology that followed. The fortunes of the program turned four months later when a Pakistani national living abroad with access to highly classified foreign uranium enrichment technology volunteered to act as a spy, and pass detailed information to Pakistan. This Pakistani was Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist employed by URENCO, the tri-national European uranium enrichment centrifuge consortium.

Khan had access to detailed plans about several enrichment centrifuge designs, as well as comprehensive information about the parts suppliers used by URENCO. With this information Pakistan began purchasing enrichment components in 1975, and in early 1976 Khan returned to Pakistan to (a few months later) take control of the enrichment program. Little attention was paid to enrichment technology at the time, so the Pakistani activities escaped the notice of nations attempting to control nuclear proliferation.

Pakistan's enrichment plant, built at Kahuta, began doing enrichment on 4 April 1978. The plant was made operational in 1979 and by 1981 was producing substantial quantities of uranium. The facility was named A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) by President Zia ul-Haq on 1 May 1981.

Pakistani work on weapon design predated both India's test and A.Q. Khan's involvement. In March 1974 Munir Ahmad Khan, head of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), formed a task force consisting of Drs. Hafeez Qureshi, Abdus Salam, Riaz-ud-Din, and Zaman Sheikh to design a nuclear explosive. This design group was based at Wah, and became known as "The Wah Group".

Preparations for a nuclear test site in the Ras Koh Hills and Kharan in Baluchistan were begun as early as 1977, and the shafts used in the 1998 tests were completed in 1980.

The Pakistan nuclear weapons program became militarized after the 5 July 1977 coup in which Army General Zia-ul-Haq siezed control of the government (the deposed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was eventually hanged on 4 April 1979). The Pakistani military has retained exclusive control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability ever since, even during the periods in which it has tolerated civilian rule.

The Wah Group had a weapon design - an implosion system using the powerful but sensitive HMX as the principal explosive - ready for testing in 1983. The first "cold test" of a weapon (i.e. a test of the implosion using inert natural uranium instead of highly enriched uranium) took place on 11 March 1983 under the leadership of Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed of the PAEC. This test was conducted in tunnels bored in the Kirana Hills near Sargodha, home of the Pakistan Air Force’s main airbase and the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD).

1984 saw the arrest of Pakistani nationals for smuggling krytrons and other pulse power components useful in nuclear weapon firing systems. It was perhaps around the end of 1984 that Pakistan first achieved the capability to manufacture and test a nuclear explosive.

During the latter 80s Pakistan inexorably moved toward converting its potential capability into an actual one. The Pressler Amendment, a congressional act passed to keep Pakistan receiving aid despite its active weapons program, helped restrain Pakistan from moving beyond stockpiling enriched uranium as hexafluoride gas. The 1990 crisis with India that erupted over Indian repression in Kashmir, finally prompted Pakistan to take the last steps. In May 1990 Pakistan converted 125 kg of uranium hexafluoride to metal and reportedly manufactured seven weapon cores, putting it in the position of assembling a nuclear arsenal from stockpiled components in a matter of days. During the Kashmiri crisis at least one complete nuclear weapon is believed to have actually been assembled.

Excellent U.S. intelligence provided detailed information about the status of Pakistan's capabilities, which leaks and official discloures gradually revealed to the public. Nonetheless Pakistan refrained from officially declaring itself as a nuclear power, but at the same time went to great pains to make clear its nuclear capabilities. On 7 February 1992 Pakistani Foreign Minister Shahryar Khan stated in an interview with the Washington Post that Pakistan had the components to assemble one or more nuclear weapons. This statement went further than any made by other "non-weapon states" in admitting to the existence of a nuclear arsenal. Pakistan had previously admitted to having fabricated pits for fission weapons. In July 1993 General (retired) Mirza Aslam Beg, former army chief of staff, acknowledge that Pakistan had conducted cold tests of nuclear devices. And in August 1994, then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said "I confirm that Pakistan possesses the atomic bomb" although the government repudiated the statement (but admitted having the capability to make them).

In 1998, after the Indian Pokhran-II test series in May and India's open declaration of its status as a nuclear weapons state, Pakistan followed suit with its own tests. The first test was conducted in a 1 km horizontal tunnel under the mountain Koh Kambaran in the Ras Koh Hills at 10:16:17.6 UCT (+/- 0.31 sec) on 28 May 1998 (28.7919N 64.9475E +/- 0.003 deg). Official (and semi-official) descriptions of the tests said that five devices were successfully fired with a combined yield of 40 kt. Independent seismic analysis set the yield at approximately 9 kt (with a 5-20 kt possible range). The second test of a single device was fired at 06:55:00.0 30 May 1998 UCT at about 28.433 deg N 63.860 deg. The claimed yield was 18 kt, seismic estimates put it at 4-6 kt (3-11 kt maximum range).

Again following India's lead, Pakistan formally declared itself a nuclear weapons state following the 28 May tests. Current Nuclear Forces

It is estimated that Pakistan produced produced about 210 kg (range 160 - 260 kg) of HEU up to the moratorium in 1991 [Albright and O'Neill 1998]. The current production capacity of Pakistan is approximately 110 kg per year (range 80 - 140 kg/year), and the cumulative production of HEU (less the HEU expended in the 1998 tests) is estimated at about 800 kg at the end of 2000 (range 665 - 940 kg) [Albright 2000]. Since a uranium weapon requires about 15 kg this equates to a potential for 53 weapons (range 44 - 62), although somewhat more than 15 kg may be used to produce more powerful and efficient weapons.

In April 1998 the unsafeguarded Kushab reactor began operating. This reactor is a heavy water-natural uranium reactor built with Chinese assistance and has an operating power of 50-70 MW. This reactor should be able to produce around 10-15 kg of plutonium a year at a 60-80% load factor (the fraction of the time the reactor actually operates). Through the end of 2000 approximately 10-28 kg is estimated to have been separated from the fuel, a figure that is strongly affected by how quickly the fuel is processed after irradiation, and the effectiveness of the separation plant. Pakistan has a pilot plutonium reprocessing plant called "New Labs" at the Pakistan Institute of Scientific and Technical Research (Pinstech) complex near Rawalpindi. Reportedly the New Labs facility was expanded during the 90s to handle the full fuel load from Kushab. CBS News reported on 16 March 2000 that US intelligence had found evidence (such as krypton-86 emissions) that Pakistan is reprocessing irradiated fuel from the Khushab reactor and recovering separated plutonium. Fission weapons require 4-6 kg of plutonium, so 2-7 weapons could have been manufactured from this material.

In addition to Kushab, Pakistan is also manufacturing reactor-grade graphite and has its own heavy water plant both of which may be used to build additional plutonium production reactors fueld with natural uranium. It currently possesses two power reactors - the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) with an output of 137 MW electrical, and the Chasma Nuclear Power Plant (CHASNUPP) with an output of 300 MWe. CHASNUPP is a pressurized water reactor constructed by the China National Nuclear Corporation was completed in late 1995. CHASNUPP began operations in November 1999 and was connected to the power grid (run by the Karachi Electric Supply Company) on 14 June 2000. These reactors have produced 600 kg of plutonium in their spent fuel but this plutonium remains unseparated and under IAEA safeguards.

The Kushab reactor could also be used to produce tritium for boosted weapons. The production capacity for tritium would be on the order of 100 g per year if enriched uranium is used as fuel, enough to boost perhaps 20 weapons. Pakistan is known to be interested in tritium, having acquired a tritium purification and production facility, and 0.8 grams of pure tritium gas from West Germany in 1987, as well as even larger quantities of tritium from China.

According to A. Q. Khan, as well as other Pakistani scientists, the devices tested in 1998 were most of all boosted weapon designs. Pakistan has not tested a true staged thermonuclear device. This implies that Pakistan can built pure fission or boosted fission devices with yields ranging from sub-kiloton up to perhaps 100 kt. Higher yields are possible, but suffer from the delivery weight limits of its existing missiles and probable limits to Paksitani minaturization technology. China has provided a complete tested designs for a 25 kt pure fission weapon.

Pakistan has been active since the early 80s in acquiring ballistic missiles and missile technology. This has resulted in the acquisition and development of an imposing list of missile systems (see table below). These systems are all basically derivatives of Chinese and North Korean technology, and in many cases are simply missile systems imported from abroad (the M-9 and M-11) or assembled from foreign components (the Ghauri and Ghauri-2 missiles). The Ghauri designation refers to a muslim ruler -- Shahabuddin Ghauri -- who repeatedly raided Hindu cities during the middle ages.

In October 2000 it was reported that the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission's (PAEC)National Defence Complex (NDC) had begun serial production of its 'indigenously-built' solid-fuelled Shaheen-1 ("Eagle" or Hatf-4) intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), according to local media reports quoting senior defence officials. The Shaheen-1, with a declared range of 750 km, has officially been flight tested only once, in April 1999. Pakistani defence officials also said the test of the road-mobile missile was successful [Farooq 2000], [PTI 2000].

Currently the only missiles that are beleived to be in service are the Hatf-1 and Hatf-2, the Chinese supplied M-9 abd M-11, the Shaheen-1, and possibly the Ghauri/Ghauri-2 (basically North Korean supplied No-dong missiles). On 13 June 1996 the Washington Post quoted a leaked CIA draft document as saying Pakistan had "probably finished developing nuclear warheads" for Chinese-supplied M-11 missiles. If true, it may indicate Chinese assistance minaturizing the warhead design.

Summary of Pakistan's Missiles

NameAlternate NamesRange (km)Payload (kg)Test FiringsDeveloperStatus
Hatf-180500April 1989KRLIn service since 1996
Hatf-1A100500February 2000KRLIn service?
Hatf-2260-300500April 1989KRLIn service?
Hatf-38003 July 1997?KRL?Never deployed
Hatf-4Shaheen-1750100015 April 1999NDCDeployed September 2000
Hatf-5Ghauri-11100-15007006 April 1998KRL/DPRK
Hatf-6?Ghauri-22000500-700?14 April 1999KRL/DPRK
Hatf-7Shaheen-22400-25001000Declared ready for test Sept. 2000NDC
Ghauri-3? (Ghaznavi?)300015 August 2000??KRL/DPRK?
M-11CSS-7/DF-11300500-800China30-80 supplied
1. NDC: National Defence Complex
2. KRL: A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories
3. DPRK: Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea)
4. Hatf-2 may be a Pakistani manufactured M-11
5. Shaheen-1 believed to be based on Chinese M-9 technology and design
6. Shaheen-2 believed to be based on Chinese M-18 or DF-21 technology and design
7. Ghauri and Ghauri-2 are believed to be DPRK (North Korea) No-dong missiles or No-dong based designs Existing Weapon Infrastructure

Under construction.fnord Planned Nuclear Forces

Under construction.fnord