Growing Nuclear Arsenals

China's arsenal may match America's and Russia's by 2030.

4989
Open as PDF

Nuclear Weapons 2023
(click to enlarge)

Amid the war in Ukraine and intensifying geopolitical competition, the world’s nuclear powers are scaling up and modernizing their arsenals. The countries with the most nuclear warheads deployed are the United States and Russia. Together, they possess close to 90 percent of all nukes. In 2022, Russia deployed an additional 86 nuclear warheads, bringing its total to 1,674. The U.S. added 26 – a reversal of its longstanding downward trend – giving it a total of 1,770 deployed warheads.

However, China is trying to catch up. Its nuclear arsenal grew to 410 from 350 last year, and according to SIPRI, it may catch up with the Russians and Americans by the end of the decade. At the same time, the major powers are reducing transparency about their nuclear weapons, and Moscow and Washington suspended dialogue on strategic stability. Nevertheless, the number of nuclear weapons around the world is well below past decades and is not growing significantly. In addition, the U.S. and Russia remain committed to avoiding armed confrontation – and especially nuclear escalation.

Geopolitical Futures (GPF) was founded in 2015 by George Friedman, international strategist and author of The Storm Before the Calm and The Next 100 Years. GPF is non-ideological, analyzes the world and forecasts the future using geopolitics: political, economic, military and geographic dimensions at the foundation of a nation.