How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

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As tensions rise and rhetoric intensifies, we take a look at Russia’s nuclear capabilities.

On Wednesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization, threatening to use “all available weapons” in case of an attack.


In a pre-recorded speech, Putin accused Western countries of arming Ukraine’s military and encouraging Kyiv to attack Russia.

“To threaten the territorial integrity of our country and protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all weapons systems available to us,” he said. “This is not a hoax. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that WeatherVen can change and point to them.”

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The United States and Kyiv’s Western allies have said Moscow’s latest moves – including a planned referendum in the occupied Ukrainian territories – showed that Russia’s campaign was failing.

As tensions rise and rhetoric intensifies, we take a look at Russia’s nuclear capabilities.

Which countries have nuclear weapons?

According to estimates by the Federation of American Scientists, by the beginning of 2022, nine countries had about 12,700 weapons.

While Russia and the US have destroyed thousands of their retired armaments, they still account for 90 percent of the world’s total nuclear weapons.

At its peak in 1986, the two rivals had about 65,000 nuclear weapons, making the nuclear arms race one of the deadliest events of the Cold War.

South Africa is the only country to have voluntarily given up nuclear weapons. In 1989, the then government halted its nuclear weapons program and began dismantling six of its nuclear weapons in 1990.

Two years later, South Africa joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear country.

(al Jazeera)

Russia’s nuclear program

Russia has an estimated 5,977 nuclear warheads. There are currently about 1,588 armaments deployed, which means they are on bases of intercontinental missiles and heavy bombers. About half (2,889) of Moscow’s weapons are not deployed on launchers but in storage.

The remaining 1,500 weapons have been retired and are set to be destroyed.

The USSR conducted its first nuclear test on August 29, 1949. Codenamed RDS-1, the test was conducted at the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan. Between 1949 and 1990, the Soviet Union conducted a total of 715 nuclear tests.

In 1961, the Soviet Union conducted the world’s largest nuclear explosion by detonating the Tsar Bomba over Novaya Zemlya, north of the Arctic Circle. The explosion yield was 50 megatons, 3,300 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

(al Jazeera)

treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons

Established in 1968, the purpose of the NPT is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The treaty prohibits signatories other than the US, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programs for electricity generation overseen by the United Nations.

There are currently 190 nations signed to the treaty, with only India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan never being party to it. North Korea signed the treaty in 1985 but withdrew in 2003. Three years later, under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, the country detonated its first nuclear weapon.

interactive non-proliferation treaty
(al Jazeera)

How many nuclear weapons does Russia have?

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