Who Owns the Biggest and Most Powerful Nuclear Weapons at the Moment and Why?

Who Owns the Biggest and Most Powerful Nuclear Weapons at the Moment and Why?

Nuclear Weapons are becoming more and more advanced with the passage of time and the Cold War has played a massive role in that.

Only eight sovereign states, in history, have successfully tested nuclear weapons. However, only five of these states are considered to be nuclear-weapon states. These five states, by order of acquisition, are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China. The remaining three states, Pakistan, India, and North Korea, are not given this status because they haven’t conducted the tests according to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The first nuclear weapon test was carried out by the United States in July 1945. Afterward, the US used their new deadly weapon on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The US hoped to keep this weapon’s technology a secret but failed in doing so. Just four years later, Russia (Known as the Soviet Union at the time) tested their own nuclear weapon. Following that, the United Kingdom conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1952. China followed suit in 1964. As the nuclear armaments in the world started increasing, the US, along with a few other states signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CNTB) in 1996.

In the later years, the United Nations introduced the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The popularity of this treaty grew rapidly among different parts of the world but the elimination of nuclear weapons was not that easy as there were about 14,485 nuclear weapons at that time. This figure gives an estimate of all the nuclear states and the countries that do not have their own nuclear weapons but rely on other’s nuclear arsenal for protection. As far as the country with the most nuclear weapons goes, Russia leads the race with nearly 6,850 nukes. Until now, the United States of America is the only country to have used a nuclear weapon against an enemy.

In the western hemisphere, the US is the only country with a nuclear arsenal. That being said, US is also the only country which has some of its nukes stored in other countries. Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Turkey have a total of 180 weapons stored. All the countries that are under the protection of nuclear weapons or store others’ weapons are in direct violation of the TPNW. Not every country has nukes stored on land. France for example can deploy its weapons from its trademark Rafale aircraft aboard its aircraft carrier ships. On the other hand, the UK has four Vanguard-class submarines, which have the capability of launching nuclear missiles.

In this era, the only nuclear tension that exists is between Pakistan and India. Both of these countries refuse to back down their nuclear stances. Fortunately, both countries follow a “no first use” policy. Some experts believe that if there is a new cold war, it will be between these two neighbors. Let’s take a look at the number of warheads each nation has. As mentioned before, Russia leads with 6850 nukes, closely followed by USA’s 6450. The numbers plummet in other nations. France has 300 such weapons with China trailing behind closely with 280. The UK is reported to have 215 nukes. Pakistan has 150 nuclear-grade weapons and its neighbor India has 140. Allegedly, Israel has 80 warheads and at the last is North Korea with 20 nukes.

When it comes to Russia, the state has carried out 715 nuclear weapon tests since 1949. This is massive compared to many other states which have less than 715 tests even when combined. It is believed that the main reason for Russia having such a massive number of nukes is the Cold War. The Cold War arms race resulted in both superpowers developing a lot of nuclear weapons, with Russia taking a significant lead. Russia also possesses a nuclear triad. It means that the country can launch these weapons from land, air, and sea. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is reported to have said,

“Despite making limited reductions to their nuclear forces, both Russia and the USA have long-term programs underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear-weapon production facilities.”

As far as denuclearization goes, the US and North Korea have signed an agreement to decrease the number of warheads they possess. It is clear, however, that both countries view denuclearization from a different perspective. The other countries, however, are slowly increasing and modernizing these weapons as time passes.

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