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but the cold war's over... right?

If you feel like a few chills up your spine, instead of watching some cheap horror flick you can simply read this summary of the status of US Nuclear Forces for this year, published in the bulletin of atomic scientists. Some nuggets of information from the report follow (this is all public information regarding US nuclear force status, btw). The US has:

  • 384 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), Trident I and II types (about half of the operational strategic nuclear arsenal) are deployed in 16 nuclear-powered submarines (2880 warheads in total).
  • 500 Minuteman III missiles with one or three warheads each deployed on land
  • There are three types of nuclear-delivery capable bombers: B-2B (15-20), B-52H (around 100) and B-1B (Although according to the report the B-1B wasn't supposed to be nuclear-capable, there are over 90 of those in operation and close to "retirement"). The bombers can deploy gravity bombs, "bunker-buster" nuclear weapons and cruise missiles (the latter only on the B-52H platform).
  • Over 1,100 non-strategic nuclear weapons (ie., tactical nuclear weapons. The bombs dropped Hiroshima and Nagasaki qualify as tactical).
Which gives a grand total of some 7650 warheads, give or take a few, including strategic and tactical devices.

According to the report they are deactivating 50 MX/Peacekeeper ICBMs (which are relics pretty much). Sounds like good news? Not really. The warheads will be redeployed to Minuteman III missiles.

Also interesting are the time-frames established for "retirement" of some of the technologies, warheads and delivery platforms (ie., missiles, planes, submarines, etc), and plans for their upgrade and/or replacement.

And I don't even want to know what's on the Russian arsenal...

Categories: geopolitics
Posted by diego on June 3 2003 at 5:08 PM

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