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  • The light from an atomic bomb test explosion is reflected in the waters of Enewetak Atoll May 30 1956

    The light from an atomic bomb test explosion is reflected in the waters of Enewetak Atoll May 30 1956 | Photo: Reuters

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The United States' 2,150 deployed (operational) nuclear weapons have a total yield of around 1,027 megatons, enough to completely level an area with a circumference of 6,575 km.

The United States' 2,150 deployed (operational) nuclear weapons have a total yield of around 1027 megatons, enough to completely level an area with a circumference of 6,575 km.

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The nuclear bombs would also be capable of destroying most civilian buildings in an area with a circumference of 17,459 km — around four times the size of the United States, according to teleSUR calculations.

The United States' total operational nuclear weapons would moderately damage civilian buildings in an area with a circumference of 48,269 km — an greater than the circumference of the planet.

Central London would be completely destroyed by a single megaton bomb, meaning the U.S.' 1,027 megatons would eliminate around 1,027 cities the size of central London, or would instantly kill 647 million people, if set off in urban areas.

Globally, however, according to the 2010 Blackaby Papers, there are at least 23,000 nuclear weapons in existence, sufficient to wipe out the entire human population of the planet many times over.

The exact destruction ability of U.S. nuclear stocks is difficult to calculate. teleSUR's figures do not include the additional 2,500 bombs in reserve storage, or the 3,000 or so that are awaiting dismantlement. The exact figure is secret, but a report published by Hans Kristensen and Roberto Norris last year, titled U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2013, and used for this article, is likely the most accurate available.

Further, the destruction capacity of the bombs depends on a range of factors: the kinds of bombs (detailed below), how high and where they are set off, as well as the type of destruction, for example, instant damage, or the long-term consequences of radiation, cloud cooling, and so on.

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According to a range of sources, including the Arms Control Association, in 2009 or 2010, the United States had: 500 Minuteman III warheads, 1,152 Trident II D5 warheads, and 316 B-52H and B-2A. In 2009 (used for calculating the above statistics), it had 550 Minuteman III warheads, 1,152 various Trident warheads, and 150 B61-7, and 350 ALCM/W80-1 warheads.

The Minuteman warheads have a yield (destruction capacity of) 1.2 megatons, the Tridents range between 100 and 475 kilotons, and the B61-7 and ALCM/W80-1 have up to 340 kilotons and 150 kilotons respectively. To put those into perspective, the Nagasaki bomb, Fat Man, had between 18 and 23 kilotons of TNT.

The U.S. Department of Defense estimate of the annual cost of U.S. nuclear “deterrent” is US$16 billion, while Brookings says other estimates place the cost higher, at US$30 to US$35 billion.

US$1 trillion is the estimated cost of modernizing current U.S. nuclear arsenal, including operation costs, life extension programs and new delivery systems to replace aging elements, according to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 2014.

The U.S, as it polices the world, alleging it is invading Iraq, Syria, Libya, to get rid of “evil forces”, is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in warfare, on Japan during World War II.

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