Which Country has the Most Nuclear Warheads
In the 21st century, the role of the nuclear weapon and the perspective of Nuclear has varied a lot than it was at the time of cold war. During the cold war, the sole purpose of having a nuclear warhead was to balance the terror, to produce a sufficient impact on the enemy. The nuclear weapon has the power to ensure the safety of a small state from the small actions of a relatively large state. The advancements in nuclear weaponry also enable the mighty powers to ensure their safety and standards. Atomic assets of a country define the security and strength of a state.
There is a total of 8 states that have declared themselves as the nuclear state. Israel is not included as there is an ambiguity about either it possesses the nuclear power or not. But according to Wikipedia Israel is suspected of owning the atomic weapon. Among the eight states that possess nuclear weaponry, five have included in the NPT. The Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (otherwise known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty) was made to promote the constructive use of Nuclear energy and to prevent the nuclear weaponry and technology from spreading.
For the renewal of treaty, a meeting is held every five years and is known as Review Conference. The agreement was primarily made to ensure and promote it’s purposed for a period of 25 years when it was made between 1965-68 but later on the parties on the table decided to extend the duration. The treaty was unconditionally extended in a review conference held in New York in 11th May 1995.
The states that are under the non-proliferation treaty are as follows:
1. United States of America:
The United States was the very first country to use nuclear energy to produce atomic weapons, and up till now, it is the only country in the world that has made use of Nuclear Warheads in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Research and testing of nuclear weapons were on the peak during the World War the Cold War.
The development of nuclear weaponry in the United States was started in the reign of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. In the beginning, the project was initiated as per the instructions of National Bureau of Standards. Later on, the program was transferred under the management of the Office of Scientific Research and Development. But after a short time, the project was passed on to the command and authority of the United States Army. Back then it was known as Manhattan Project, and it was a mass collaboration of America, UK, and Canada. Later on, around 30 constructions were made at different locations for research and testing the components of nuclear weapons.
The hefty investment in breeding plutonium to produce the weapon, the United States developed three nuclear weapons that were ready for use back in 1945. Trinity Explosion was the very first atomic explosion in the world and had a yield of approximately 20 kilotons. Little Boy was a gun design bomb that was used on Hiroshima (Japan) on 6th August 1945. Later on, another nuclear weapon was launched upon Nagasaki which was named ‘Fat Man,’ and it destroyed about 60% of the city, killing 35,000 people.
Last Nuclear test was conducted on 23rd September 1992. The US now possess a stockpile of 4000 warheads.
Russia, formerly known as the Soviet Union, tested it’s first nuclear warhead back in 1849 during and after the world war. It was the second country to possess developed and tested the atomic weapon. The primary objective of production of Nuclear Warhead in Russia was to maintain the balance of power in the Cold War. The Soviet Union is well known to have tested the biggest explosion in the human history as the first megaton-range hydrogen bomb theoretically had a yield of around 100 megatons, which was reduced intentionally to 50 when it was detonated. The Soviet Union had about 4500 nuclear warheads back in 1986.
The exact amount of nuclear warheads owned by Russia is not enclosed by the state, but according to a research conducted by Federation Of American Scientists, the estimated number of warheads held by Russia is around 4,000. Russia has 1,950 nuclear warheads that are active, and if we compare it to the statistics of the United States, America has 1,650. Also, Russia also has around 1500 tactical nuclear warheads that are kept in the central storage.
In the Annual State of the Nation Address held on 1st March 2018, President Putin declared that Russia now possesses a new class of nuclear weapons with extraordinary capabilities. Putin stated that they had upgraded their weaponry and they now have an intercontinental missile namely ‘Avangard,’ which can travel 20 times the speed of sound which makes it impossible for the missile defense systems to detect it. They also are known to have underwater torpedo and cruise missile based on nuclear energy, and they both have unlimited range.
In 2002, U.S. and Russia had an agreement under the SORT treaty that each of the countries will reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons and both countries agreed to have not more than 1500 warheads in the stock. The United States rejected the treaty back in 2003 to reduce inventory to 1500 warheads. Russia took a bold step and denied to discuss the reduction of nuclear warheads.
3. United Kingdom:
The United Kingdom emerged as the third country to produce and test nuclear, officially becoming a nuclear weapon state. U.K also became a part of NFT and a member of the United Nations Security Council. U.S. and U.K. have cooperated with each other on the security matters under the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement. The friendly relations and loyal cooperation of both countries have led to the exchange of classified scientific information and raw materials related to nuclear technology.
The United Kingdom now has 215 thermonuclear warheads, and 120 of them are ready for use as per the reports of 2016. The only operational nuclear weapon system of U.K. is The Trident Nuclear Programme, and it has been operational since 1998. In 2008, the National Audit Office of U.K. stated that the stockpile of nuclear weapons available for operation is only 160.
France is also a Nuclear State that is one of the states that come under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. France was the third country in the world that produced and tested nuclear bombs. According to the recent research and studies France is known to possess a stockpile of almost 300 operational nuclear warheads. France rejected to sign on the Partial Nuclear Ban test Ban Treaty and it was free to test nuclear weapons.
The first hydrogen bomb of France was tested in 1968. France decided to disarm 175 of the total warheads in stockpile after the cold war. President Jacques Chirac stated that France would use a nuclear warhead in case there is a terrorist attack from any country and the nuclear forces are always ready to operate the missiles in case of emergency. President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that they are taking steps and measures to reduce the number of nuclear warheads that are delivered by aircraft to about one third and they will bring their total nuclear stockpile to about 300.
China is also one of the five countries to sign NPT. China’s first nuclear bomb test was conducted back in 1964. China has not enclosed the number of the nuclear warhead that is available in the stockpile as it’s a state secret, but according to the Federation of American Scientists, China had a nuclear weapon stockpile of 260 warheads. China is the only state to state that it would never use the nuclear technology and weapons of mass destructions against any Non-nuclear-weapon state at any time no matter what happens.
According to research and studies, it’s said that the maximum range of China’s nukes is around 14,000 kilometers. China has had the peak stockpile of nuclear weapons to approximately 434 warheads, but currently, it owns 260 warheads in the stock.
India tested its first nuclear weapon back in 1974. India decided to keep all the nuclear information confidential and the secret development of nuclear weaponry caused conflict with nations like Canada as it was the supplier of nuclear reactors and these assets were only supplied for power generating and peaceful purposes. India is not a member of the non-proliferation treaty. According to a statement made by the US State Department in 2008, the US official said that it would not recognize India as a nuclear state. Speaking to statistics, India has an estimated stockpile of about 130 nuclear warheads.
Pakistan is also a nuclear state that is not a part of the non-proliferation treaty. The nuclear development in Pakistan started back in 1970 after a nuclear power plant was constructed in 1970 near Karachi. Because of the conflicts between Pakistan and India, President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto stated that if India could make nuclear warheads, then Pakistan also has the capability and resources to produce weapons of mass destruction. In response to the five nuclear tests conducted by India in 1998, Pakistan conducted around six nuclear tests just a few weeks later.
As per stats of 2013, Pakistan had a stockpile of about 140 warheads. In November 2014, there was a statement made that stated that Pakistan would strive for ways and means to manage enough fissile material to make 200 warheads.
8. North Korea:
North Korea was a member of the non-proliferation treaty, but it signed off from the agreement on January 10th, 2003 because America assumed that North Korea had a secret uranium enrichment program. Although the country could not do so much testing, it claimed to have a nuclear warhead active and ready to use, back in 2005. North Korea gave an official statement about conducting a successful nuclear test in 2006, but the intelligence of the US stated that the experiment was a failure as it yielded less than a kiloton. North Korea conducted a nuclear experiment on 3rd September 2017 which yielded 250 kilotons.
Which countries have Nuclear Power
According to intelligence and studies, Israel is known to be the sixth country to test and produce nuclear weapons. Israel is also not a member of the non-proliferation treaty. Speaking of an official statement, Israel has never confirmed or denied the possession of nuclear assets but according to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists, Israel most likely possesses nuclear warheads, and the expected stockpile is around 75 to 200 nuclear warheads.