The content of this unofficial handbook is the sole responsibility of the the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters. Please refer to the applicable statute, regulation, Department of Defense directives and instructions, or Department of Energy orders for definitive guidance in all areas related to U.S. nuclear weapons. This handbook is neither authoritative nor directive, although every effort has been made to ensure that it is accurate and comprehensive.

The revised 2020 Nuclear Matters Handbook provides an overview of the U.S. nuclear deterrent and a basic understanding of nuclear matters and related topics. This overview is intended for anyone seeking an introduction to nuclear weapons and for those who need a more detailed understanding to perform their professional functions.

Each chapter in the handbook features a unique aspect of the nuclear deterrent and is designed to stand alone in providing information specific to the topics addressed. There are many interdependencies among the elements of the nuclear deterrent, the authorities under which it operates, and the many organizations that make up the DoD Nuclear Enterprise and the NNSA Nuclear Security Enterprise as well as other U.S. government agencies and international partners that contribute to the U.S. nuclear deterrent. This handbook makes those connections where feasible, but should be considered a reference document rather than a cohesive narrative.