Global Risk

We’re Entering a New Period, as Revealed by FAS Nuclear Arsenal Data Published in SIPRI Yearbook 2024

06.17.24 | 2 min read | Text by Eliana Johns

Goodbye, decades of nuclear weapon reduction?

Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda with the FAS Nuclear Information Project write in the new SIPRI Yearbook, released today, that the world’s nuclear arsenals are on the rise, massive modernization programs are underway, and nuclear weapons are becoming more prominent in military strategies and rhetoric.

It is clear that the gradual reductions in nuclear stockpiles that characterized the post-Cold War period is over, and that the world is sliding back into nuclear competition and––in some cases––an arms race.

The development is in stark contrast to the promises made by many nuclear-armed states to reduce nuclear risks and seek a world without nuclear weapons.

The SIPRI Yearbook is published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and is one of the most widely cited sources of information on nuclear weapons. The nuclear data is derived from the research and analysis the Nuclear Information Project uses to produce the Status of World Nuclear Forces on the FAS website.

The SIPRI chapter describes the nuclear weapon modernization programs underway in each nuclear-armed state and provides estimates for how many nuclear warheads each country possesses. Combined, the research team, which includes Kristensen, Korda, Eliana Johns, and Mackenzie Knight, estimates that the combined global inventory of nuclear warheads is approximately 12,120. Of these, around 3,900 are estimated to be deployed on missiles and aircraft (2,100 of which are on high operational alert on ballistic missiles). Thousands of warheads (some 5,680) are stored in special depots for deployment if necessary. The remaining 2,540 warheads or so are retired and awaiting dismantlement. 

Moreover, with the increased nuclear competition, the research team reports that government transparency of nuclear forces is decreasing.

Read it here: SIPRI Yearbook 2024 nuke chapter

This research was carried out with generous contributions from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Longview Philanthropy, New-Land Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, the Prospect Hill Foundation, and individual donors.