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The fast-dwindling stockpile of U.S. nuclear weapons is now positioned in 16 states - nine fewer than just three years ago, according to private nuclear arms specialists who have tracked the locations for a decade.

North Dakota has replaced South Carolina as the state with the most nuclear warheads, and Louisiana's Barksdale Air Force Base is now the single largest nuclear arms site in the country, a report by Robert Norris and William Arkin said.The states that have had all nuclear weapons removed since 1992 are Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey and New York, they said. Georgia, Louisiana and North Dakota now have more than they did in 1992.

The Pentagon as a matter of policy refuses to discuss locations of nuclear weapons.

The report by Norris and Arkin will be published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Norris said it is based on publicly available documents. The two are authors of numerous authoritative books on nuclear weapons.

In all about 7,000 nuclear warheads are stationed on U.S. territory, plus about 480 at land-based sites in Europe, Arkin and Norris estimated. Also, about 1,500 additional warheads are aboard submarines at sea, they said.

At the peak in the 1980s, there were roughly 24,000 U.S. nuclear warheads around the world. Now there are about 9,000, and by the turn of the century the total will be about half that if strategic arms reductions treaties are implemented.

In 1992, the Bush administration removed all the American nuclear weapons from South Korea; now the only overseas sites are air bases in Germany, Britain, Turkey, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Belgium, Norris and Arkin said.

South Carolina has seen a drop in the number of nuclear warheads on its soil since 1992 because of the retirement of many ballistic missile submarines that were based at Charleston, Norris said in an interview.

Louisiana has seen a slight increase from 910 warheads three years ago to 1,010 now because of its central role in storing nuclear gravity bombs and cruise missiles to arm the several dozen B-52H bombers at Barksdale, Norris said.

North Dakota leads all states with 1,710 warheads, up by about 60 from three years ago. They are for B-52 bombers at Minot Air Force Base and Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles at Grand Forks Air Force Base, Norris said.

Georgia has had an increase in nuclear weapons because of the growth in recent years of the fleet of Trident ballistic missile submarines based at King's Bay. Norris and Arkin estimate there are 768 active warheads for the King's Bay subs; the same number are in Washington state for Trident subs at Bangor.

Since 1992, major nuclear storage sites have been closed at Sierra Army Depot in northern California; Concord Naval Weapons Station in the San Francisco Bay area; Earle Naval Weapons Station in New Jersey and Seneca Army Depot in New York.

Norris said the last 50 Tomahawk nuclear cruise missiles in Hawaii for Pacific Fleet attack sub-marines have been removed in the past year, leaving Hawaii with zero warheads.

States with nuclear warheads, according to Arkin and Norris:

- North Dakota, 1,710 at Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases.

- Louisiana, 1,010 at Barksdale Air Force Base.

- Georgia, 768 at King's Bay Naval Submarine Base.

- Washington, 768 at Bangor Naval Submarine Base.

- Wyoming, 582 at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base.

- South Dakota, 350 at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

- Texas, 350 at Dyess Air Force Base.

- Nebraska, 255 at missile sites that are part of Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.

- Montana, 250 at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

- Nevada, 200 at Nellis Air Force Base.

- Missouri, 150 at Whiteman Air Force Base.

- Colorado, 138 at missile sites that are part of Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.

- New Mexico, 120 at Kirtland Air Force Base.

- California, 100 at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.

- Virginia, 100 at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown near Norfolk.

- South Carolina, 100 at Charleston.