US Nuclear Target List – and Safest Locations to Consider (2021-Updated)

When Joseph Biden was sworn in on January 20, 2021, as the 46th President of the United States, he inherited several significant crises from the previous governments, including the escalating climate change, raging pandemic, and an attempted coup by the predecessor. The power of nuclear weapons involves one of the aspects that has continued to cause many fears among Americans.

Immediately after his inauguration president, Biden gained official control of the nuclear weapons. However, it becomes challenging to handle the issues revolving around nuclear weapons.

US NUCLEAR TARGET LIST (2021 UPDATED)
Soldier Holding Rifle

Despite that, the United States receives several nuclear threats from nations such as Russia, China, and North Korea that hold a more significant percentage of the world's nuclear weapons.


Most of the United State's nuclear target destinations have been identified by considering strategic assets such as:

  • Overpopulated states.
  • Military bases.
  • Depots for military ammunition.
  • States with major industries that can contribute to economic decline if destroyed by nuclear attacks.
  • States with significant infrastructure facilities such as water reservoirs, power plants, and information technology systems.

The US nuclear target list

There are several locations in the U.S. listed in the nuclear target map as potential zones for nuclear strikes, and they include:

  • Fort Ritchie in Maryland
  • Camp David.
  • The pentagon.

Camp David and the Pentagon appear the first and most apparent nuclear target zones. In particular, these locations are highly targeted because they house numerous government equipment and information that the U.S. can rely on in a global war. When it comes to Jim Creek, it manages to appear in the FEMA map of likely nuclear targets because it plays a critical role in the U.S. security system.

us nuclear target list
Aspen Lodge: President Biden's cabin at Camp David

The Naval Radio station houses a low-frequency radio transmitter that the United States Navy depends on to transmit communication orders to the submarines of the U.S. that operate in the Pacific. Therefore, eliminating naval radio stations could prevent or inhibit the U.S. Navy missiles submarines from receiving commands of returning fire in case of a nuclear strike.

us nuclear target list, Jim Creek Naval Radio Station
Jim Creek Naval Radio Station

The federal government has also identified Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and New York as most likely to be targeted for nuclear attacks. These states are not only the largest and densest cities in the United States, but they also have critical infrastructures such as major financial hubs, energy plants, wireless transmission systems, and government facilities that are essential to the country's security. For instance, Washington DC is also a potential target because it serves as the central command center for the U.S.

Other major potential nuclear target areas include states with military, naval, and air force bases such as:


The Naval Station Norfolk- is one of the largest global naval bases, which is located in South-Eastern Virginia. Although the base was established more than 100 years ago, it currently houses more than 150 000 personnel, including the Department of Defense soldiers, reservists, family members, and dependents.

us nuclear target list
Naval Station Norfolk

San Diego, California- It is one of the states with the largest bases for the U.S. Navy. It is also one of the Pacific fleet's major home ports, and it has approximately 50 ships with more than 120 tenant commands.

US nuclear target list
San Diego Naval Base

Seattle, Washington- Seattle is also one of the nuclear targets in the U.S. because it hosts several navy bases. Arguably, the Naval Station in Bremerton and the Naval submarine base in Bangor merged to form the third-largest navy base in the United States known as Naval base Kitsap.

US nuclear target list
Naval submarine base in Bangor

The naval base supports fleet ballistic missiles, surface ships, and other nuclear weapons.


Los Alamos National Laboratory- The laboratory is the primary local for nuclear bomb design in the U.S., located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although there are other labs, Los Alamos is the target because if the pillar of bomb design and hosts the world's most famous scientists.


Joint Base San Antonio- It is a military located in Texas and is under the Air Force base wing jurisdiction. It is also a joint base for Martindale Army airfield, Lackland Air Force, and U.S. Army Fort Sam Houston.

US nuclear target list
Joint Base San Antonio

Fort Bragg- It is the home of the United States special forces and airborne forces, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and Army Forces command that is located in Fayetteville, North Caroline.


Kansas City National security campus- It is a facility that produces approximately 85 percent of nuclear components that are used in the U.S. nuclear weapon arsenal.


Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs- Cheyenne Mountain serves as a center for military communications.

US nuclear target list
Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs

Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska- It serves as the headquarters for the air force weather agency and U.S. Strategic Command.

According to the FEMA map of likely nuclear targets, the most active nuclear power plants in the United States are also included in the list. Some of such plants include:


The Safest States from nuclear attack

The United States is not a completely safe place, but it only has safer places for nuclear targets.

The areas that are considered the safest states from nuclear attack include Salem, Oregon that has invested bolstered seismic infrastructure facilities that can mitigate damages from nuclear damage. Further, states which do not have nuclear power plants, such as Northern California, West Virginia, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Minnesota, are considered safer.

US nuclear target list
West Virginia, one of the safest places in the United States, from nuclear attacks

The least populated states in the U.S. also have a limited likelihood of attacks. Such states include Alaska, Vermont, North and South Dakota, Delaware, and Wyoming. However, it does not mean that you will be safe from nuclear attacks if you live in a sparsely populated area. All you have to consider is the assets which are a considerable target. Maine is also one of the safest places because it has fewer violent crimes, low natural disaster risks, and no nuclear bases nearby.

US nuclear target list
Saturated early morning light hits the buildings and architecture of downtown Wilmington Delaware, one of the least populated states in the US; making it safer from nuclear targets

Most of America's top states are at larger risks because they host the country's most vital systems, firms, and components that make them a target for nuclear attacks. In most cases, the federal government considers states with energy centers, refineries, ports, densely populated areas, airfields, and military bases as potential nuclear targets. Since most of the states in the U.S. have a risk of a nuclear target, the Biden administration should look for ways of maintaining national security.

For instance, the administration should try to fulfill its campaign promise of extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the only remaining arms control treaty with the Russian government that expired in early 2021. The treaty can also serve to improve the perilous relations between Russia and the U.S.

Such a model can also serve as means for dialogues with other nuclear-armed nations, including North Korea and China. Perhaps, through that, the new government can guarantee the safety of the states listed in the nuclear target list.