With all the talk lately about the United States going to war with Iraq over their suspected arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction”, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what countries actually possess nuclear capabilities. With that being said, here’s a list countries and a brief description. All numbers are best estimates.
Definitely Got ‘Em”
United States – about 12,000 warheads spread throughout 14 states and 7 other countries. The U.S. holds the distinction of being the only country to have ‘em deployed outside its borders. First tested in 1945
and most recently tested in 1992
, the U. S has conducted 1,030 nuclear tests.
United Kingdom – about 380 warheads. The Brits are moving towards a single type of weapon – the Trident II missile carried on Vanguard class submarines. First tested in 1952 and most recently tested in 1991, the UK has conducted 45 nuclear tests.
France – about 450 warheads of three different types housed in four undisclosed locations. First tested in 1960 and most recently in 1996, France has conducted 210 nuclear tests.
Pakistan – best guesstimates are between 12 –18 at various locations. First tested in 1998, Pakistan has conducted 6 nuclear tests.
India – thought to be about the same as Pakistan. First tested in 1974 and most recently conducted tests in 1998, India has conducted 5 nuclear tests.
China – about 400 warheads located in 20 sites, submarines included. Of the 400, 250 are thought to be of a “strategic” nature with the remaining missiles being classified as “tactical”. First tested in 1964 and most recently tested in 1996, China has conducted 45 nuclear tests.
Russia – about 22,500 warheads located in about 90 sites. Amazingly, these were consolidated after the break up of the former USSR. First tested in 1949 and most recently tested in 1990, Russia has conducted 715 nuclear tests.
They Ain’t Sayin’
Israel – will neither confirm nor deny the existence of nuclear capabilities. Estimate are though that they have over 100 warheads.
Can’t Really Be Sure
Iraq – supposedly dismantled under United Nations after the Gulf War in 1991. It’s a hot topic these days.
Iran – pretty much a wild card – nobody knows for sure.
North Korea – recently admitted to strengthening their position in the development of nuclear capabilities.
Couldn’t Be Bothered
Brazil – thought about in the 80’s but the program has been shut down
Argentina – see Brazil
Algeria – built a reactor in 1991 but gave control of it to the International Atomic Energy Agency
Ukraine – former Soviet Republic that gave the warheads back to Russia
Belarus – pretty much the same as the Ukraine
Kazakhstan – same as Belarus and Ukraine
South Africa – had ‘em but voluntarily dismantled both the weapons and the program. The only country to this date ever to do so.
Libya – originally was under the "Can't Really Be Sure" heading but as esteemed user Noung points out, the war in Iraq caused them to re-think their position and they wish to "normalize" relations with the West.