North Korea on Wednesday threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, the latest in a series of mutual provocations as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate. That development came after President Donald Trump said Tuesday that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues its aggressive behavior.
Trump followed up on Wednesday in a series of tweets boasting about the U.S. nuclear arsenal. “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” he tweeted. “Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!”
Here’s what you need to know about the size and reach of the American nuclear arsenal.
How Many Nuclear Weapons Does the U.S. Have?
As of July 8, the United States has 6,800 warheads, according to data from Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris at the Federation of American scientists. 2,800 of them are retired, 4,000 are stockpiled, and 1,800 are deployed. The total number of U.S. warheads is second only to Russia, which currently has 7,000 of them.
Aside from North Korea, the other nuclear powers have between 80 and 300 warheads each, and 1,135 in total. As of July, North Korea was thought to have the material for a maximum of 20 warheads.
It was previously thought that North Korea lacked the technical sophistication to make nuclear warheads small enough to be delivered via long-range missile. But as Kelsey Davenport, the Director for Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association, explains, U.S. intelligence officials believe that’s no longer the case, as reported by The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“North Korea has been developing the capability to put a nuclear warhead on the tip of a ballistic missile for years. And what yesterday’s intelligence assessment indicates is that the United States now thinks North Korea has achieved this capability,” said Davenport. “Essentially the United States is assessing that North Korea can put a warhead onto a ballistic missile and actually deliver it.”
How Far Can U.S. Nuclear Weapons Reach?
Davenport estimates that the range of a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile exceeds 10,000 kilometers, or approximately 6,213 miles.
“U.S. ballistic missiles are extremely reliable and very accurate and some of these weapons can be launched within minutes,” she…