Top 10 Countries with Nuclear Weapons

The top 10 nuclear weapons countries in the world have a deadly arsenal of weapons, which, of course is better off not used. To know who has what, we'll have a look at some details to compare the most powerful nations as far as nuclear weapons are concerned.
A world free of nuclear weapons will be safer and more prosperous.
―Ban Ki-moon

There are many things that need to be noted when one talks about the pros and cons of nuclear weapons. Whatever the reason(s) for acquiring arms, every country needs to defend its soil. In the race to do so, some countries have gone way ahead of others, and thus find a place in the list of top 10 nuclear weapons countries in the entire world.

The race for arms among the top 10 military powers of the world has been hot since the past 60 - 70 years. There are other countries too that are believed to possess nuclear arms and warheads, but that remains a secret or unconfirmed.

For now, let us have a look at the top 10 nuclear power countries around the world. This list is arranged according to the years in which each country kick-started their respective nuclear programs.

1. United States of America

First Test: 1945

Code Name: Trinity

Active Warheads: 2,100

Total Warheads: 4,800

Status: NPT

During World War II, it was feared that the Nazi regime would strive to develop nuclear weapons. As such, the United States started the Manhattan Project along with Canada and the United Kingdom. Trinity was first developed in 1945. The US bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 2 Japanese cities, and is the only nation till date to have used nuclear weapons against any other country.

2. Russia

First Test: 1949

Code Name: RDS-1

Active Warheads: 1,600

Total Warheads: 4,500

Status: NPT

After the World War, Russia needed to restore some balance of power during the Cold War era. They were desperate and scrambled to develop their own nuclear weapons program, to be on level terms with the US. It is also believed that Russia made use of many spies to help develop their projects. Russia has the distinction of detonating the most powerful device by humans, the Tsar Bomba (50 megatons).

3. United Kingdom

First Test: 1952

Code Name: Hurricane

Active Warheads: 160

Total Warheads: 225

Status: NPT

Hurricane was first tested by the UK in 1952. A lot of its resources and data was taken from the Manhattan Project, that was done in collaboration with the United States. The UK's main aim was that its project act as a deterrent to Russia. It did not want to rely completely on the US for help, and wanted to be an independent nuclear power itself.

4. France

First Test: 1960

Code Name: Gerboise Bleue

Active Warheads: 290

Total Warheads: 300

Status: NPT

Now the French did not want to be lagging behind either. It wanted to be a power to reckon with, at least in Europe, if not around the world. A commendable fact is that most of the project was carried out on indigenous data. Gerboise Bleue was tested in 1960.

5. China

First Test: 1964

Code Name: 596

Active Warheads: 180

Total Warheads: 250

Status: NPT

China was wary of both the US and Russia. 596 was first tested in 1964. But once the Chinese got started, they worked hard and fast, and were striving to be at par with the 2 superpowers of the world, Russia and the US. Although, China is the only country in the nuclear weapons club to have adopted the 'first no use' policy.

6. India

First Test: 1974

Code Name: Smiling Buddha

Active Warheads: NA

Total Warheads: 110

Status: Non-NPT

India tested Smiling Buddha in 1974. India maintained that it was a peaceful nuclear program, but it was alleged that dual-use technology was apparent, where civilian nuclear technology could be secretly channeled to weapons technology. India's aim was to be at par with China, and also make sure that its neighbor Pakistan was aware of its capabilities.

7. Israel

First Test: 1979

Code Name: Vela Incident

Active Warheads: NA

Total Warheads: 110

Status: Undeclared

Israel has never officially declared that it is a nuclear weapons state, and has always maintained that whatever it does is related to its civilian nuclear program. Though, images of bunkers for weapons, mobile missile launchers, and launch sites have been captured through satellite photography on numerous occasions.

8. Pakistan

First Test: 1998

Code Name: Chagai-I

Active Warheads: NA

Total Warheads: 120

Status: Non-NPT

Not wanting to be left behind by India, Pakistan started its own nuclear program, which is believed to have been helped by China. But it was only in 1998 that Pakistan tested Chagai, and is believed to be a nation in hot pursuit of increasing its stockpile.

9. North Korea

First Test: 2006

Code Name: 2006 Test

Active Warheads: NA

Total Warheads: 20

Status: Non-NPT

The first test by North Korea was as recently as 2006. North Korea was a member of the NPT until 2003. Not much is known about the tests and subsequent projects, as North Korea is one of the most secretive countries in the world.

10. Others

Germany/Belgium/Canada/Greece/Italy/Netherlands/Turkey: These are NATO countries, and as a result of the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program, these nations have deployed and stored nuclear weapons that have been provided by the United States. This program is believed to be compliant with the NPT, as the US possesses absolute custody and control of these nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Missiles
Mobile Nuclear Missile

10 Unbelievable Facts About Nuclear Weapons
In order to maintain its nuclear arsenal, the United States of America spends $100 million everyday.
There are thousands of nuclear missiles that the US and Russia have on stand-by, also known as 'hair-trigger alert'. Once these missiles are launched, there is no way to recall them.
'Little Boy', which was dropped on Hiroshima and killed 140,000 people had a yield of 13 kilotons. Today's bombs can have a yield of 50,000 kilotons, or 50 megatons.
A 5 megaton bomb is the same as all the explosives put together that were used in World War II.
The US and Russia together possess more than 90% of the world's nuclear arsenal.
In the past 70 years, around 50 nuclear weapons have been lost, and still remain unaccounted for.
Over the decades, both the US and Russia have spent more than $5 trillion each on building nuclear weapons.
The US alone needs more than 15,000 square miles to maintain its nuclear bases and facilities.
Even if one is hidden in an underground bunker, surviving a nuclear attack still isn't 100% certain.
The amount of nuclear weapons the world possesses right now, is more than enough to wipe out mankind from the face of the earth, many times over.

Besides these top 10 nuclear weapons countries, there are a few countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria that are on the verge of realizing their nuclear dreams, though things are not very clear about them in this regard. Then there were a few countries who were considered nuclear powers earlier. Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine became nuclear powers when they inherited weapons due to the fall of the USSR, but they have given these weapons of mass destruction back to Russia and have joined the NPT. Lastly, countries such as South Africa, Argentina, South Korea, Libya, Brazil and Taiwan have all had nuclear weapon programs earlier, but have shelved them eventually due to varied reasons.