The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Number of Nuclear Weapons Capable Nations

search icon
Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Beck, Rogers & Black, Kinda & Krieger, Larry & Naylor, Phillip & Shabaka Dahia. World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL. McDougal Littell: 1999. "However, at the beginning of the 1990s, ten nations still possessed nuclear weapons." 10
Kimball, Daryl & Kerr, Paul & Boese, Wade. Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What At A Glance. Arms Control Association. April 2005. "Four years after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, the Soviet Union detonated its first nuclear device. The United Kingdom (1952), France (1960), and China (1964) followed. Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. In the decades since, several states have abandoned nuclear weapons programs, but others have defied the NPT. India, Israel, and Pakistan have never signed the treaty and possess nuclear arsenals. Iraq began a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. North Korea claims to have nuclear weapons and announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003." 9
Status of Nuclear Powers and Their Nuclear Capabilities. globalsecurity.org, 1 January 2005. [see table below]
9
Status of Nuclear Countries & Their Nuclear Capabilities (data as of 01 January 2005)
  US Russia United Kingdom France China Israel India Pakistan North Korea
Weapons
Stockpile 10,640 16,000 200 350 ?400 200 110-150 75 ~13
Deliverable 6,390 3,242 200 350 ~325 200 110 75 ~13

As the knowledge of nuclear technology grows everyday, the efforts taken to restrict the use of this information also grow. Fueled by the fear of a nuclear holocaust, international committees the United Nations drafted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968, which seeks to restrict and control the use and possession of nuclear arms. According to the treaty, there only exist five states that are legally permitted to own nuclear weapons: the US, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France.

But the Treaty could not prevent other nations to develop their own nuclear programs and to build and test their own weapons. India and Pakistan have conducted nuclear tests, and North Korea has publicly declared itself to be in possession of nuclear weapons. Israel, Iran, and Ukraine are among others who are suspected of possession. North Korea has yet to prove their claim, and they have not conducted any confirmed tests. Israel is suspected to be in possession, and South Africa have long since dismantled their nuclear program.

Aside from the declared nations and the suspected nations, there are still many more nations who have had nuclear weapon programs in the past, but are no longer actively developing or in possession of nuclear arms. Countries who previously had nuclear programs are Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Libya, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Yugoslavia. Countries who have not had such programs but possesses the technology and arms to develop nuclear weapons include Canada, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia.

Yuen H. Fong -- 2005