A nuclear bomb is probably the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. The two timesit was used in war, it killed between 90,000 and 166,000 people in Hiroshima andfrom 60,000 to 80,000 people in Nagasaki. The seemingly innocuous terms “LittleBoy” and “Fat Man” developed new meanings after those August bombings in Japan.
Unfortunately, mankind did not learn its lesson. Today, there are thousands ofnuclear weapons still around. Around 10 countries have conducted nuclear bombtesting. South Africa used to have around six nuclear weapons back in the 80's, butvoluntarily disassembled them in the 90's. The Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan also hadnuclear weapons after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, but they had sincevoluntarily disposed or transferred them to Russia.
In the west, NATO countries Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Turkeyall have nuclear weapons in their territories, but the Americans own all of these.Canada and Greece also used to have American weapons in their countries, butthey were removed in 1984 and 2001, respectively.
Other countries, however, still have their own arsenal. Here are the top countrieswith nuclear warheads.
9 North Korea – less than 10 nuclear warheads
North Korea has always been belligerent and regularly uses its weapons asbargaining chips whenever they want something from other countries. It was actuallya signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, but they withdrew in2003 after the United States cut off energy assistance because of North Korea’ssuspected uranium enrichment program. It conducted its first test in 2006. While theAmericans confirmed this, it is believed that it was not a complete success. Moretests followed in 2009 and 2013.
8 India – 80 to 100 nuclear warheads
India is not a party to the NPT. In 1974, it conducted its first nuclear test code namedthe “Smiling Buddha,” the first one conducted after the NPT came into force in 1970.India has rejected calls for its nuclear disarmament, insisting that everyone shouldalso do so. It rejected the NPT because of the discrimination that comes with it inwhich the world would be divided into nuclear “haves” and “have-nots.” In the late80's, it weaponized 24 nuclear arms for delivery by air. In 1998, it tested some of itsweaponized warheads in what it dubbed as Operation Shakti. It came in the sameyear that its archrival, Pakistan, tested its first nuclear weapon.
7 Pakistan – 90 to 110 nuclear warheads
Like India, Pakistan is not a party to the NPT. Pakistan had vowed in the 60's todevelop its own nuclear weapon in case India gets one. The Pakistanis are believedto have several in its arsenal ever since the 80's. In 1998, however, after Indiaconducted five tests, Pakistan made six nuclear tests in what it called “Chagai-I.”
6 Israel – 80 to 200 nuclear warheads
Israel probably got a nuclear weapon way back in 1967. The weapon assembledwas probably crude and never got tested. However, in 1979, Israel was believedto have conducted a test in the Indian Ocean in cooperation with South Africa.Mordechai Vanunu, a technician who had photographs and detailed technicalinformation on how to separate lithium-6, confirmed the advanced state of theIsraeli nuclear weapon program in 1986. Separating lithium-6 is a key step for theproduction of tritrium, which is essential in developing fusion-boosted fission bombs.Israel is a signatory to the NPT.
5 United Kingdom – 225 nuclear warheads
The United Kingdom was able to test its first nuclear weapon in 1952 in what itdubbed as “Hurricane.” The British made use of data largely gathered from theManhattan Project. It was the third country to have the bomb, even as it tried tomaintain its status as a great power by having its own deterrent against the SovietUnion. It also tested its first hydrogen bomb in 1957’s “Operation Grapple.” Out ofthe 225 nuclear warheads it has, 160 are still active. It is a party to the NPT.
4 China – 240 nuclear warheads
China tested its first nuclear weapon in 1964 in what it dubbed as “596.” It wasmeant as a deterrent to both the United States and Soviet Union. It then tested ahydrogen bomb in “Test No. 6” in 1967. It is a signatory of the NPT, though it neverratified it. The country, however, has a strict “no first-use” policy, meaning it providesan unqualified negative security assurance that it would only use the weapon whenan enemy strikes them with the bomb first.
3 France – 300 nuclear warheads
France had its first nuclear weapon test in 1960 in an operation dubbed as “GerboiseBleue.” It used its own research and they ramped up its development after the SuezCrisis in the late 50's. It was also meant to maintain its status as a great power,like the United Kingdom. In 1968, it tested its first hydrogen bomb in what it calls“Operation Canopus.” It voluntarily disarmed 175 weapons after the Cold War,though 290 are still active. It is a party to the NPT.
2 United States – 7,700 nuclear warheads
The United States was the first country to develop nuclear missiles. It happenedduring World War II when it collaborated with the United Kingdom and Canada inthe Manhattan Project as it raced against Nazi Germany to be the first to have thebomb. It tested its first nuclear weapon in 1945 in what it dubbed as “Trinity.” It thenused the weapon twice against Japan. In 1952, it tested the hydrogen bomb in “IvyMike,” before following it up with a deployable weapon in 1954’s “Castle Bravo.” It isa signatory to the NPT. It has the most number of active nuclear weapons at 2,150.
1 Russia – 8,500 nuclear warheads
Russia tested its first nuclear weapon in 1949’s “RDS-1,” as it attempted to balanceout the West’s advantage during the Cold War. It tested its first hydrogen bomb in1957’s “RDS-37.” It also had the most powerful bomb ever exploded in Tsar Bomba.Before the Soviet Union collapsed, its arsenal included 45,000 nuclear warheads.Russia has trimmed it down to 8,500, though only 1,740 are active. It is a party to theNPT.