Top 10 Nuclear Powers of the World

Today, nuclear weapons are thousands of times more powerful than the twin bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Since 1945, the race to keep ahead of other countries in terms of nuclear power in the name of nuclear deterrence  has in essence, never stopped. Today we take a look at top 10 nuclear powers in the world, declared or not declared.

No 10. Iran – Not declared, Accused

First test Never
Nuclear stockpile size 2,400 kilogram of low-enriched uranium
Last nuclear test Never
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Signatory

Top American Military officials say that Iran can produce atleast 1 nuclear weapon within a year from now and a workable atomic bomb in two to five years. While, the west accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons, Iran’s leaderships denies it and says that the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and is meant to produce electricity to power their medical reactors.

Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 1979 after staring it in the 1960s. It was again resumed in mid 1990s, as revealed in secret documents obtained in 2002. Just recently, a fourth round of sanctions was imposed against Iran’s nuclear program by the UN.

No 9. Israel – Not declared

First test Possibly 1979
Nuclear stockpile size Upto 400
Last nuclear test Possibly 1979
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Signatory

Israel is not only believed to posses full-fledged nuclear weapons but also is capable to deliver these through intercontinental ballistic missile, aircraft, and submarine. Israel started researching in the nuclear field soon after its founding. It built its first reactor in the 1950s and its first nuclear weapon in the 60s, but currently Israel maintains a state of nuclear ambiguity. Many European countries including Britain and France were involved in facilitating Israel towards its nuclear goal.

Israel is also believed to have created mini-nuclear bombs which are small enough to be fitted in a suitcase. Furthermore, Israel is also reported to possess an unknown number of neutron bombs.

Below is a 44 minute BBC documentary on Israel’s nuclear program worth watching:

No 8. North Korea

First test 2006
Nuclear stockpile size Less than 10
Last nuclear test 2009
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Non-signatory

Apart from possessing a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons, North Korea is a “full fledged” nuclear state. Currently, North Korea has two operating nuclear reactors. To date, North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests, which have been confirmed by Survey and Seismic activity monitoring authorities.

No 7. Pakistan

First test 28 May, 1998
Nuclear stockpile size 70-90
Last nuclear test 30 May, 1998
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Non-signatory

Pakistan initiated (infact , re-initiated) its nuclear program in response to India’s “Smiling Buddha” nuclear tests. “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb?” said the Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto after India’s tests.

Pakistan’s nuclear program started way back in 1956, but the program was frozen when the first Martial law was imposed by President Ayub Khan. Pakistan’s Nuclear Engineer tried to convince the President to resume the program but failed, the President said that if Pakistan ever needed the bomb, Pakistan could somehow acquire it off the shelf.

The Pakistani Air Force has two units, No. 16 Sqn and No. 26 Sqn, operating the Nanchang A-5C, aptly suited to the delivery of nuclear warheads.

No 6. India

First test 1974
Nuclear stockpile size 40-95
Last nuclear test 1998
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Non-signatory

India possesses nuclear weapons and is also capable of delivering them through aircrafts and surface ships. Its nuclear-capable submarines are under development. India’s first nuclear test was, interestingly, named “Smiling Buddha” as it was a “peaceful nuclear explosive”. A wave of economic sanctions against India by America, Japan and other countries materialized after the 1998 explosions.

No 5. China

First test 1964
Nuclear stockpile size 240
Last nuclear test 1996
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Signatory

After testing its first atomic bomb, China tested its hydrogen bomb in 1967. China currently has 180 active nuclear warheads. China is the only nuclear weapons state to give a security assurance to non-nuclear-weapon states: “China undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones at any time or under any circumstances.”

No 4. France

First test 1960
Nuclear stockpile size 300
Last nuclear test 1995
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Ratifier

France is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is known to possess weapons of mass destruction. It also tested a fusion bomb in 1968. France decided to build a nuclear bomb in 1958 under Charles de Gaulle and then tested it in 1960, making it the fourth country to do so. France has so far conducted more than 200 nuclear tests.

No 3. United Kingdom

First test 1952
Nuclear stockpile size 225
Last nuclear test 1991
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Ratifier

United Kingdom ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. the United States and the United Kingdom have cooperated extensively on nuclear security matters since the 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement. The two countries have been sharing classified information too. Surprisingly, the United Kingdom possesses a single nuclear weapon delivery system; trident submarines.

No 2. Russia

First test 1949
Nuclear stockpile size 2,825, Peak stockpile: 41,000
Last nuclear test 1990
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Ratifier

Soviet Union became the 2nd nation to detonate a nuclear bomb in 1949. Till 1990, Russia carried out atleast 715 nuclear tests involving 969 nuclear devices. “Joe-1” was the name of the first Soviet nuclear explosion. It had a yield of 22 Kilotons.

The “Tsar bomb” (pictured above), by far the heaviest nuclear bomb of all time was also tested by Russia in 1967. It had a yield of whopping 57,000 kilotons. Tsar was originally designed to have a yield of 100,000 kilotons, but was reduced to 57,000 kilotons due to fear of excessive radioactive fallout

The 2nd largest nuclear bomb in terms of yield was the Castle Bravo, detonated in 1954 by the US; it had a yield of 15,000 Kilotons.

No 1. United States

First test 1945
Nuclear stockpile size 5,113
Last nuclear test 1992
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty status Signatory

US has carried out a total of 1,054 nuclear tests and possesses missiles with ranges upto 13,000 km. US’s first test, “Trinity”, in 1945, was also the world’s first explosion of its kind which introduced the world to a new type of menace, which ultimately every nation on earth will pursue. One of the world’s greatest scientist, Albert Einstein, was the one who urged President Franklin Roosevelt to build a nuclear bomb; inventors became the destructors.

Today, more than 20 facilities operate in the US which contribute to its nuclear program. Interestingly enough, US has accidently dropped many nuclear weapons which thankfully didn’t turn into an ugly affair, for example near Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1957, near Thule Air Base, Greenland in 1968, Savannah, Georgia in 1958,  Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1961, in the sea near Palomares, Spain in 1966 and off the coast of Okinawa in 1965.

Here is an interesting video or audio (if you will) on “if America got nuked”…

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