Not long ago, Herman Cain was mocked for not knowing that China has nuclear weapons. I realized, when listening to the news reports, that I didn’t know exactly which nations have nuclear weapons, so I decided to find out. The chart below will tell you what I learned. The information comes from the Arms Control Association.
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 initiated a secret nuclear program under Saddam Hussein before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has tested nuclear devices since that time. Iran and Libya have pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty’s terms, and Syria is suspected of doing the same.
Nations with nuclear weapons
|Nonproliferation Treaty Nations||Comments|
|China||Has an estimated 240 warheads|
|France||Has fewer than 300 operational warheads|
|Russia||Approximately 2,400 operational strategic warheads , approximately 2,000 operational tactical warheads, and approximately 7,000 stockpiled strategic and tactical warheads.|
|United Kingdom||Fewer than 160 deployed strategic warheads, total stockpile of up to 225.|
|United States||5,113 active and inactive  nuclear warheads and approximately 3,500 warheads retired and awaiting dismantlement. The 5,113 active and inactive nuclear warhead stockpile includes 1,968 strategic warheads, approximately 500 operational tactical weapons, and approximately 2,645 inactive warheads.|
|Nations with nuclear weapons that haven't signed the Nonproliferation Treaty||Comments|
|India||Up to 100 nuclear warheads|
|Israel||Between 75 and 200 nuclear warheads|
|Pakistan||Between 75 and 90 nuclear warheads|
|Nations to watch||Comments|
|Iran||No known weapons or sufficient fissile material stockpiles to build weapons. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the institution charged with verifying that states are not illicitly building nuclear weapons, concluded in 2003 that Iran had undertaken covert nuclear activities to establish the capacity to indigenously produce fissile material. The IAEA is continuing its investigation and monitoring of Tehran’s nuclear program.|
|North Korea||Has separated enough plutonium for up to 12 nuclear warheads.|
|Syria||In September 2007, Israel conducted an airstrike on what U.S. officials have alleged was the construction site of a nuclear research reactor similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor. Intelligence officials briefed members of congress on the airstrike eight months later in April 2008, discussing the evidence leading to their judgment that the site was an undeclared nuclear reactor. While the extent of Syrian-North Korean nuclear cooperation is unclear, it is believed to have begun in 1997. Subsequent IAEA investigations into the U.S. claims uncovered traces of undeclared man-made uranium particles at both the site of the destroyed facility and Syria’s declared research reactor. Syria has failed to provide adequate cooperation to the IAEA in order to clarify the nature of the destroyed facility and procurement efforts that could be related to a nuclear program.|