Nuclear Stockpiles

Nuclear weapon designs and quantities, as well as their status, locations, and delivery systems, are all closely guarded national secrets. However, the article linked above provides interesting estimates (emphasis on the word “estimate”) of the numbers of nuclear weapons held by various nations since the dawn of the nuclear age. The text of the article also sketches out some key events, both technical and geopolitical, since the US developed the world’s first nuclear weapons.

Given recent nuclear saber rattling by Russia and China, it is worth considering the circumstances under which any given country might actually use either a tactical or strategic nuclear weapon. These policies, or at least many of their details, are also held closely, partly to keep potential adversaries guessing and partly to help manage or avoid hard questions.

Nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are quite expensive. Will the list of nuclear-armed countries grow or shrink in years to come? Time will tell…

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