During the initial days of the invention of nuclear technology, the United States wished for a monopoly on its new weapon. However, the secrets and the technical know-how to make the atomic bomb soon spread to different countries.
The first nuclear test was conducted by the United States in July 1945 and it dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities – Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The second nuclear test was conducted by the Soviet Union in 1949.
Over the next two decades, the United Kingdom, France, and China joined the bandwagon of countries with nuclear power.
Check out the Countries with Nuclear Weapons
In order to ensure the nuclear weapon ranks are not expanded further, the United States and its allies negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in the year 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.
List of Nuclear-Weapon States:
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are the nuclear-weapon states(NWS) that are officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the NPT.
As of 2021, the US has 1,389 strategic nuclear warheads that are deployed on 665 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
Out of the total estimated 230 B-61 stockpile, it is estimated that the US has 100 B-61 nuclear gravity bombs at six NATO bases in five European countries.
i) Aviano and Ghedi in Italy
ii) Büchel in Germany
iii) Incirlik in Turkey
iv) Kleine Brogel in Belgium and
v) Volkel in the Netherlands
Last year in October, the U.S. State Department gave an indication that the cumulative total of U.S. “active” and “inactive” warheads is 3,750 as of September 2020.
About 350 total warheads.
Around 290 warheads.
As of 2021, Russia has 1,458 strategic warheads deployed on 527 intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers.
Russia’s military arsenal consists of around 4,497 nuclear warheads as of January 2021 according to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
About 225 strategic warheads.
Non-NPT Nuclear Weapons Possessors:
Three countries – India, Israel, and Pakistan have never joined the NPT however these countries possess nuclear weapons.
Have a look at the arsenal estimates:
India: Around 156 nuclear warheads.
Israel: An estimated 90 nuclear warheads.
Pakistan: Approximately 165 nuclear warheads.
North Korea was part of the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state but it withdrew in 2003. North Korea has around 40-50 warheads.
Please note that all the figures mentioned above are taken from Arms Control Association.
Below are the States which had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Weapons Programs at a point in time:
- Three erstwhile soviet union countries- Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons after the collapse of the soviet union in 1991, but they gave them back to Russia and joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states.
- South Africa developed nuclear weapons secretly but later decided to dismantle them and later joined the NPT in 1991.
- Before the 1991 gulf war, Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program but it was forced to dismantle it under the observation of UN inspectors. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 has ended Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
- Libya voluntarily abandoned its efforts to secure nuclear weapons in December 2003.
- Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan also discarded their nuclear weapons programs.
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