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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

World nuclear forces: who has what?

Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have been detonated on over two thousand occasions for the purposes of testing and demonstration. With world events more uncertain than ever before, an in-depth look at nations’ nuclear capabilities (and intentions) is crucial to security services and diplomats all over the world. At the start of 2016, nine states — the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — possessed approximately 15,395 nuclear weapons. Overall inventories of nuclear warheads are declining (primarily due to the USA and Russia reducing their holdings), but the global pace of reductions is slowing.

Although they are decreasing in terms of quantity, both the USA and Russia have extensive modernization programmes under way. The nuclear arsenals of the other seven states are considerably smaller, but all plan to develop new weapon systems. China (like Russia and the USA) has embarked on long-term upgrades, whilst India and Pakistan are both expanding their nuclear weapon stockpiles. Israel, which neither officially confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons, is testing a long-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile, and North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear programme.

Discover more about the nine nuclear states’ stockpiles and policies, with this interactive map.

Featured Image Credit: Hydrogen Bomb, Atomic Bomb by WikiImages. Public Domain via Pixabay.

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