Top 7 Nuclear Power Nations in the World

It is a well known fact that nuclear weapons are one of the highly recognized powers in the world. Although it has many drawbacks, countries are using it to bring benefits in terms of peace and sovereignty.

1. The United States of America

The world's super power nation, the United States 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 2013, 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. Around 7,650 warheads are also stock up in this superpower nation. The U.S. tested its first nuclear weapon in 1945 in what it known as "Trinity."

2. Russia

A northern Eurasian nation, Russia 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.

Before the Soviet Union collapsed, its arsenal included 45,000 nuclear warheads. However, at present, Russia possessed an estimated 8,420 total nuclear warheads, of which 1,720 are strategically operational, 1,070 warheads are assigned to land-based missiles, 350 are assigned to nuclear submarines and 300 are ready to be deployed on aircraft.

3. United Kingdom

A land of kings and queens, 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 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.

The United Kingdom was the third nation in the world after the United States and Soviet Union to improve and test an atomic weapon. The British government proclaimed a shift to the present framework to happen by 2024.

4. France

Among the five 'Nuclear Weapons States' under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, France possesses one of the world's third-largest nuclear arsenals. 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. According to the report, there are 300 warheads, 290 operational weapons and about 240 are nuclear submarines, while the other 50 are ready to be deployed on aircraft. In January 2006, President Jacques Chirac stated that a terrorist act or the use of weapons of mass destruction against France would result in a nuclear counterattack.

5. China

With 240 estimated warheads, China has come up in the list of top nuclear power countries in the world. This country 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 kept ready for dismantlement or being held for a future nuclear submarine.

6. India

It was in the mid-1960s when India started building its own nuclear weapons after China began nuclear tests. This developing country 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 around 80 to 100 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 report, India is actively working to produce more warheads.

7. Pakistan

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. The country 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 the report. 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. As per the report, there are 90-110 estimated warheads.
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