The world has so far witnessed numerous massive destruction that took away uncountable lives. Despite devastation, nations are acquiring unlimited numbers of nuclear arsenals, considered as weapons of mass destruction, in the name of achieving peace, sovereignty and to protect its soil. In the race to do so, some nations have gone ahead of others, and made through the list of nations that houses powerful nuclear weapons. Here are the names of such countries as listed by IndiaTv
Russia, a northern Eurasian nation has the largest accumulation of nuclear weapons in the world. It has the second largest fleet of ballistic missile submarines and is the only country apart from the United States with a modern strategic bomber force. According to the Federation of American Scientists, an organization that assesses nuclear weapon stockpiles, Russia possessed an estimated 8,500 total nuclear warheads in 2013, of which 1,800 are strategically operational.
2. United States
The United States, the world’s super power nation is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon in war. It was the first country to develop nuclear missiles. This country has conducted more nuclear tests than the rest of the world combined. The United States is also the only nuclear power with weapons deployed in other countries through NATO’s nuclear sharing program. As of December 2012, the U.S. was estimated to have about 2,150 operational warheads. An additional 2,500 warheads are believed to be in reserve and 3,000 more are retired and awaiting dismantlement, as per the Federation of American Scientists.
France possesses one of the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenals. France is one of the five ‘Nuclear Weapons States’ under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. At present, the French military is currently thought to retain a weapons stockpile of around 300 operational nuclear warheads on its four nuclear submarines. The rest are either meant for aircraft, in maintenance or awaiting dismantlement, says the Federation of American Scientists.
4. United Kingdom
The United Kingdom was the third country to test independently developed nuclear weapons, in October 1952. It is one of the five nuclear-weapon states under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. This country is thought to maintain a stock of around 225 thermonuclear warheads, of which 160 are operational. Since 1998, the Trident programme has been the only operational nuclear weapons system in British service.
China has developed and possessed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and nuclear weapons. China’s hunt for nuclear weapons started in 1950s after the U.S. moved nuclear assets into the Pacific during the Korean War. After successfully testing the first nuclear device in 1964, China conducted its first thermonuclear test in 1967. Till date this country is estimated to have about 140 warheads assigned to land-based missiles and 40 warheads assigned for aircraft. The rest are either awaiting dismantlement or being held for a future nuclear submarine.
Israel is widely known to possess nuclear weapons and is the sixth country in the world to have developed them. On the other hand, this nation maintains a policy known as “nuclear ambiguity” which means it has never officially admitted to having nuclear weapons. But, according to the Federation of American Scientists, Israel is thought to have about 80 atomic weapons and enough plutonium for as many as 200. Over the years, Israel has acquired submarines and aircraft capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
It was in the year 1972, subsequent to its third war with India, Pakistan decided to start a nuclear program under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Pakistan responded to India’s nuclear tests in 1998 by announcing that they exploded six underground devices in the Chagai region near the Iranian border. Pakistan is actively working towards producing more warheads, said Federation of American Scientists. It has the ability to deliver nuclear payloads via aircraft and land-based missiles. It does not have a sea-based launch mechanism. It is also reported that the nuclear weapon technology and the weapon-grade enriched uranium was backed by China.
India started building its own nuclear weapons after China began nuclear tests in the mid-1960s. India tested its first nuclear device in 1974. Though the country has not made any official statements about the size of its nuclear arsenal, recent estimates suggest that India has between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons. It has aircraft and land-based missiles capable of delivering nuclear payloads, and it is planning to add naval assets to its nuclear program. According to the Federation of American Scientists, India is actively working to produce more warheads.
9. North Korea
North Korea has declared in 2009 that it had developed a nuclear weapon, and probably possesses a small stockpile of relatively simple nuclear weapons. The country’s nuclear program began with the installation of a Soviet reactor in Yongbyon. In a 1994 agreement with the United States, North Korea pledged to suspend its weapons program in exchange for assistance building reactors to generate power. So far, North Korea has conducted three underground nuclear tests and has also carried out ballistic missile tests. The country already has enough plutonium for about 10 warheads, an expert says.