Russia and the US top the list with a combined arsenal of close to 12,000, reflecting the hangover from the Cold War.
Initially, the United States had hoped to maintain a monopoly on nuclear weapons but the secrets and the technology for building the atomic bomb soon spread.
The United States conducted its first nuclear test in July 1945 and dropped two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945.
Four years later, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test. The United Kingdom followed in 1952, France in 1960, and China in 1964.
The United States and other like-minded countries negotiated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996.
India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals. Iraq initiated a secret nuclear programme under Saddam Hussein before the Persian Gulf War in 1991. North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in January 2003 and has successfully tested advanced nuclear devices. Iran and Libya also pursued secret nuclear activities in violation of the treaty and Syria is suspected of having done the same.
At the time the NPT was concluded, the United States and the then Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear stockpiles. Beginning in the 1970s, the US and Soviet/Russian leaders negotiated a series of bilateral arms control agreements and initiatives that limited, and later helped to reduce, the size of their nuclear arsenals.
According to Arms Control Association, the US currently deploys 1,357 while Russia deploys 1,456 strategic warheads on several hundred bombers and missiles, and are modernising their nuclear delivery systems.
Published : February 22, 2022
By : THE NATION