For years after the Cold War, the stockpile of nuclear weapons has decreased. There is renewed interest in the whereabouts of nuclear weapons storage after announcements from leaders in the US and Russia about expanding or updating arsenals. It’s unclear whether either of these powers plan more bombs, though we do know the two continue to lead all other countries on numbers deployed and in storage. But where are those nuclear weapons? In the case of the United States and other nations, we can answer that question.
Los Alamos, New Mexico, is famous as the birthplace of the nuclear bomb. The Manhattan Project was housed at Los Alamos Laboratory, where the only bombs used in wartime were built. New Mexico was also home to the first nuclear weapon tests, though no weapons are known to be stored in the state. There are 10 states that are known to store nuclear weapons, as well as other labs and power plants across the country.
View Nuke Facilities in the US in a full screen map
Research by magazine Mother Jones plotted locations on the BatchGeo map above from data released in 2011.
Here are the locations of nuclear weapons in the United States:
- Naval Base Kitsap (Washington)
- Malstrom Air Force Base (Montana)
- Nellis Air Force Base (Nevada)
- Warren Air Force Base (Colorado and Wyoming)
- Minot Air Force Base (North Dakota)
- Pantex plant (Texas)
- Whiteman Air Force Base (Missouri)
- Barksdale Air Force Base (Louisiana)
- Naval Submarine Base (Georgia)
Many of these locations hold warheads awaiting dismantlement. More than half of the potential arsenal is in Amarillo, Texas, at the Pantex plant, which will dismantle them. There do remain some active missile silos, in Montana, North Dakota, and at Warren Air Force Base, which is in both Colorado and Wyoming.
While this data is from 2011, data suggests it’s only decreased slightly during that time. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists suggests the stockpile in the US fell by 633 between 2009 and 2016, or about 12%.
Historically, nuclear weapons are at an all time low. The trend downwards began in the mid 1980s, after a rapid increase by Russia during the Cold War. The United States arsenal peaked in 1967, though it wasn’t until the late 1970s that Russia surpassed the US. As the chart shows, all other countries barely register when compared to the United States and Russia.
Despite public gesturing by leaders of both countries, a treaty is still in place to continue decreasing United States and Russian nuclear weapons. The New START (STrategic Arms Reduction Treaty) sets limits for deployed missiles/bombers, deployed warheads, and launchers (deployed or non-deployed). According to the treaty, these limits must be met by early in 2018.
View Nuclear Weapons Worldwide in a full screen map
The Federation of American Scientists has compiled the data on many nuclear stockpile locations. Obviously missing from the map above is Russia’s weapons, though we can see some of the US arsenal stored outside of the United States. Additionally, other nuclear countries are shown, including the United Kingdom and Turkey.