The Threat of Nuclear Weapons Today

Globally, the number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined, but those that exist remain a threat to humanity—to everything that lives. According to the Federation of American Scientists, “the world’s combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: roughly 13,410 warheads as of early-2020. Of these, nearly 9,320 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which some 3,720 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which about 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.”

Most of the world’s nuclear weapons are more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—enough to destroy the planet many times over. The United States alone possesses 5,800 total warheads (including 2000 retired and awaiting dismantling and 3,800 stockpiled) and remains one of the nine nuclear states that has not signed or ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

In 2019, the United States spent an estimated $34.5 billion on modernization and maintenance, and is estimated to spend about $45 billion this year as part of a 1.7 trillion-dollar modernization program through 2030. The Trump administration has pulled the United States out of critical nuclear arms control commitments.

Published by paxchristiusa

Communications Director, Pax Christi USA

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