A Look at the American Nuclear Arsenal, From 1945 to 2013

With the Air Force’s handling of the nuclear arsenal in question this week, here’s a look at the program itself in one chart.

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Matt Vasilogambros
Jan. 17, 2014, 9:59 a.m.

When it comes to Amer­ica’s nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al, any er­ror could be cata­stroph­ic.

That’s why news of cor­rup­tion and crime com­ing out of the U.S. Air Force this week was so alarm­ing. On Wed­nes­day, the Air Force said that 34 of­ficers re­spons­ible for launch­ing this coun­try’s nuc­le­ar mis­siles were sus­pen­ded be­cause they were cheat­ing on their monthly pro­fi­ciency tests on how to op­er­ate the war­heads.

Ad­di­tion­ally, oth­er Air Force of­ficers in charge of nuc­le­ar codes are in­volved in an in­vest­ig­a­tion in­volving il­leg­al drugs.

Air Force of­fi­cials say the coun­try’s nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al is safe. But what does it ac­tu­ally look like?

Us­ing stat­ist­ics from a Bul­let­in of the Atom­ic Sci­ent­ists study from Septem­ber, here is a look at nuc­le­ar weapons since 1945. The num­ber of nuc­le­ar weapons stopped its steady in­cline in 1986 after the U.S. and So­viet Uni­on agreed to two nuc­le­ar arms re­duc­tion treat­ies.

THe nuc­le­ar world: from 1945-2013 | Cre­ate in­fograph­ics

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