Here’s Every Nuclear Weapon in the US Arsenal

By Union of Concerned Scientists

There are enough nuclear weapons in the US arsenal to blow up the planet several times.

The explosive capacity (blast yield) of one W87 thermonuclear bomb is 300 kilotons of TNT, namely 20 times that of the “Little Bomb” (15 kilotons of TNT) dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which resulted in the death of 100,000 people in a matter of seven seconds.

The World is at a critical crossroads. A nuclear war would be terminal.  Why is it that there is no anti-war movement following Trump’s statement to destroy North Korea?

A war against North Korea could escalate into a broader war involving Russia and China. 

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, September 27, 2017


A nuclear weapon—the most destructive device on Earth. The US nuclear arsenal includes over 4,600 weapons. 

These weapons are unlike any other.

Here’s an average one, the W78. (image right) It causes a mile-wide radioactive fireball and can destroy most buildings—and humans—in a circle about 4 miles wide.

Hundreds can be launched within minutes.

About 400 nuclear-tipped missiles are stationed underground in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota. They’re staffed 24/7 and kept on hair-trigger alert, ready to launch if and when they receive orders from the president.

Submarines carry hundreds more.

A single nuclear-armed submarine carries the TNT equivalent of roughly seven World War II’s. About 10 such subs are at sea at any given time.

Aircraft are armed too.

About 300 bombs and air-launched cruise missiles are deployed on air bases in the United States. Another 150 bombs are in Europe. All are capable of smaller, lower-yield explosions, which may increase the risk that they’ll actually be used.

The president can use them at any time.

As Commander in Chief, the president enjoys complete control over the US nuclear arsenal. No one in Congress, the judicial branch, or even the US military can legally prevent their use once the president’s order is given.

More are in storage.

Thousands of backup weapons are kept in storage—the so-called nuclear hedge. In total, the US maintains about 4,600 nuclear warheads and bombs.

New weapons on the way.

The United States plans to spend a trillion dollars to rebuild essentially all of its nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Experts fear that the plan, which includes new designs and capabilities, will fuel tensions with Russia and China and ultimately undercut US security.


So are we. There are too many weapons, and our policies and plans around them—hair-triggerpresidential authority, the trillion dollar plan—are simply too risky.

*The total number of W87’s (540) differs from the total of 200 given in Table 1 in the article “United States nuclear forces, 2017” referenced in [1]. However, the authors note in footnote d of the table: “There are a total of 540 W87s in the stockpile. The 200 Mk21-equipped ICBMs can each carry one W87. The remaining 320 W87s are in storage.” We use this information rather than that in the table.


1. United States nuclear forces, 2017, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73:1, 48-57., Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, 2017

2. How U.S. Nuclear Force Modernization Is Undermining Strategic Stability: The Burst-Height Compensating Super-Fuze, Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore A. Postol, 2017

3. Capabilities of B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Increase Further, Hans M. Kristensen, 2013

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