[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

While we debate the past

Apr 21, 2006 09:00 PM
by Cass Silva

Thought you might all find this interesting.Cass

Estimated worldwide nuclear stockpiles The following is a list of nations that have admitted the possession of nuclear weapons, the approximate number of warheads under their control in 2002, and the year they tested their first weapon. This list is informally known in global politics as the "Nuclear Club". Note that with the exception of Russia and the United States (which have subjected their nuclear forces to independent verification under various treaties) these figures are estimates, in some cases quite unreliable estimates. Also, these figures represent total warheads possessed, rather than deployed. In particular, under the SORT treaty thousands of Russian and US nuclear warheads are in inactive stockpiles awaiting processing. The contained radioactive fuel can then be recycled for use in nuclear reactors that drive nuclear power plants and some military submarines and warships.
 From a high of 65,000 active weapons in 1985, there were about 20,000 active nuclear weapons in the world in 2002. Many of the "decommissioned" weapons were simply stored or partially dismantled, not destroyed.[1]
 World map with nuclear weapons development status represented by color. Red: Five "nuclear weapons states" from the NPT. Dark orange: Other known nuclear powers. Yellow: States suspected of having possession of, or suspected of being in the process of developing, nuclear weapons and/or nuclear programs. Purple: States which at one point had nuclear  weapons and/or nuclear weapons research programs. Green: Other states capable of developing nuclear weapons within several years if the decision to do so were made.
  Declared nuclear weapons states  Country Warheads active/total* Year of first test    United States 5,735/9,960[2] 1945 ("Trinity")    Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) 5,830/16,000[3] 1949 ("RDS-1")    United Kingdom <200[4] 1952 ("Hurricane")    France 350[5] 1960 ("Gerboise Bleue")    People's Republic of China 400[6] 1964 ("596")    India 40-50[7] 1974 ("Smiling Buddha")    Pakistan 24-48[8] 1998 ("Chagai-I")    North Korea 0-10[9] none[10]   *All numbers are estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council, published in  the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, unless other references are given. If differences between active and total stockpile are known, they are given as two figures separated by a forward slash. If no specifics are known, only one figure is given. Stockpile number may not contain all intact warheads if a substantial amount of warheads are scheduled for but have not yet gone through dismantlement; not all "active" warheads are deployed at any
 given time. When a spread of weapons is given (e.g., 0-10), it generally indicates that the estimate is being made on the amount of fissile material which has likely been produced, and the amount of fissile material needed per warhead depends on estimates of a country's proficiency at nuclear weapon design.
 States that have tested a nuclear weapon    
 An early stage in the "Trinity" fireball.
    The United States developed the first atomic weapons during World War II out of the fear that Nazi Germany would first develop them. It tested its first nuclear  weapon in 1945 ("Trinity"), and remains the only country to have used nuclear weapons against another nation, during the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (see: Manhattan Project). It was the first nation to develop the hydrogen bomb, testing it ("Ivy Mike") in 1952 and a deployable version in 1954 ("Castle Bravo").
    The USSR tested its first nuclear weapon ("Joe-1") in 1949, in a crash project developed partially with espionage obtained during and after World War II (see: Soviet atomic bomb project). The direct motivation for their weapons development was the development of a balance of power during the Cold War. It tested a primitive hydrogen bomb in 1953 ("Joe-4") and a megaton-range hydrogen bomb in 1955 ("RDS-37"). After its dissolution in 1991, its weapons entered officially into the possession of  Russia.
    The United Kingdom tested its first nuclear weapon ("Hurricane") in 1952, drawing largely on data gained while collaborating with the United States during the Manhattan Project. Its program was motivated to have an independent deterrence against the USSR, while also remaining relevant in Cold War Europe. It tested its first hydrogen bomb in 1957.
    France tested its first nuclear weapon in 1960, also as an independent deterrence and to retain perceived Cold War relevance (see: Force de frappe). It tested its first hydrogen bomb in 1968.
    The People's  Republic of China tested its first nuclear weapon in 1964, much to the surprise of Western intelligence agencies. It had long sought assistance in becoming a nuclear power from an uneasy USSR, but assistance stopped after the Sino-Soviet split and the weapon was developed as a deterrent against both the USA and the USSR. It tested its first hydrogen bomb in 1967 at Lop Nur. The country is currently thought to have had a stockpile of 400 warheads since the early 1980s, though with considerably fewer than this actually deployed.[11]
  An Indian Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile displayed at the Republic Day Parade 2004. (Photo: Antônio Milena/ABr)
    India tested a "peaceful nuclear device", as it was described by Indian government, in 1974 ("Smiling Buddha"), the first test developed after the creation of the NPT, and created new questions about how civilian nuclear technology could be diverted secretly to weapons purposes (dual-use technology). It appears to have been primarily motivated as a deterrent against China. It tested weaponized nuclear warheads in 1998 ("Operation Shakti"), including a hydrogen bomb (though the yield of this device is debated with some speculation that the secondary fusion stage failed to ignite). In July 2005, it was officially recognized by the United States as a "responsible nuclear" state and agreed to full nuclear cooperation between the two nations. This is seen as an "official" entry into the nuclear club of the above nations.
    Pakistan covertly developed its nuclear weapons over many decades with active Chinese assistance, beginning in the late 1970s. It is contended that Pakistan began its nuclear development programs in response to India's nuclear device. It is unknown when Pakistan began its nuclear development projects, but by the 1980s it was suspected of having successfully developed nuclear warheads. However, this was to remain speculative until 1998 when Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests at the Chaghaii hills, a few days  after India conducted its own tests.
 Suspected nuclear states Countries believed to have at least one nuclear weapon, or programs with a realistic chance of producing a nuclear weapon in the near future:
 On October 5, 1986, the British newspaper The Sunday  Times ran Mordechai Vanunu's story on its front page under the headline: "Revealed — the secrets of Israel's nuclear arsenal."
    Israel - Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to officially confirm or deny having a nuclear arsenal, or to having developed nuclear weapons, or even to  having a nuclear weapons program. Although Israel claims that Dimona is a "research reactor," no scientific reports based on work done there have ever been published. Extensive information about the program in Dimona was also disclosed by technician Mordechai Vanunu in 1986. Imagery analysts can identify weapon bunkers, mobile missile launchers, and launch sites in satellite photographs. It is believed to possess nuclear weapons by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Israel may have tested a nuclear weapon along with South Africa in 1979 (see Vela  Incident). According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists, they may possess 300-400 weapons, a figure which would put them above the median in the declared list.[12]
    North Korea - On January 10, 2003 North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In February 2005 they claimed to possess functional nuclear weapons, though their lack of a test has led many experts to question whether or not they have a working weapon.
 States suspected of having clandestine nuclear programs The question of whether individual states without nuclear weapons are trying to develop them is often a controversial one. Accusations of clandestine nuclear programs are often vehemently denied, and may be politically motivated themselves, or simply erroneous. Below are countries who have been accused by a number of governments and intergovernmental agencies as currently attempting to develop nuclear weapons technology who are not suspected as yet having developed it.
 At the Uraniums Conversion Facility in Isfahan, Iran, yellowcake is converted into uranium hexafluoride as part of Iran's nuclear fuel cycle, which has been alleged to be part of a clandestine attempt to develop nuclear weapons.
    Iran - Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and says its interest in nuclear technology, including enrichment, was for civilian purposes only (a right guaranteed under the treaty), but the CIA and many other western countries suspect that this may be a cover for a nuclear weapons program, claiming that Iran has little need to develop nuclear power domestically and that it has consistently chosen nuclear options which were dual-use technology rather than those which could only be used for power generation.[13] The Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi stated on the intentions of his country's nuclear ambitions: "Iran will develop nuclear power abilities and this have to be recognized by the treaties."[14] As of February 4, 2006,  the International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the United Nations Security Council in response to Western concerns on their possible nuclear programs. On April 11, 2006, Iran's president announced that the country had
 successfully enriched uranium to reactor-grade levels for the first time.
 States formerly possessing nuclear weapons Nuclear weapons have been present in many nations, often as staging grounds under control of other powers. However, in only a few instances have nations given up nuclear weapons after being in control of them; in most cases this has been because of special political circumstances. The fall of the USSR, for example, left many former Soviet-bloc countries in possession of nuclear weapons.
    Ukraine - signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ukraine inherited about 5,000 nuclear weapons when it became independent from the USSR in 1991, making its nuclear arsenal the third-largest in the world.[15] By 1996, Ukraine had voluntarily disposed of all nuclear weapons within its territory, transferring them to Russia.[16]
    Belarus – Belarus had 81 single  warhead missiles stationed in their territory after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. They were all returned to Russia by 1996. Belarus signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[17]
    Kazakhstan – Kazakhstan inherited 1,400 nuclear weapons from Soviet Union, returned them all to Russia by 1995.  Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[18]
    South Africa – Produced six nuclear weapons in the 1980s but disassembled them in the early 1990s, and is thus the only nation known to have willingly given up nuclear status after developing their own weapons. Possibly tested a low yield device in 1979, perhaps with Israel, over the southern oceans in the Vela Incident. Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[19]
 States formerly possessing nuclear programs These are nations known to have initiated serious nuclear weapons programs, with varying degrees of success. All of them are now regarded as currently no longer actively developing, or possessing, nuclear arms. All of the listed countries (or their descendants) signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Argentina – Conducted a nuclear weapon research program, under military rule of 1978, at a time when it had signed, but not ratified, the Treaty of Tlatelolco. This program was abandoned  after the return of civilian rule in 1983. Argentina later signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [20]. However, unofficial reports and US intelligence postulate that Argentina continued some kind of nuclear weapons program during the 1980s and 1990's, mainly because of rivalry with Brazil. [21]
    Australia – Following World War II, Australian defence policy premised joint nuclear weapons development with the United Kingdom. Australia provided uranium, land for weapons and rocket tests, and scientific and engineering expertise. Canberra was also heavily involved in the Blue Streak ballistic missile program. In 1955, a contract was signed with a British company to build the Hi-Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR). HIFAR was considered the first step towards the construction of larger reactors capable of producing substantial volumes of plutonium for nuclear weapons. However, Australia's nuclear ambitions were abandoned by the 1960s, and the country signed the NPT in 1970 (ratified in 1973). [22]
    Brazil – Military regime conducted a nuclear weapon research program (code-named "Solimões") to acquire nuclear weapons in 1978, in spite of having ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco in 1968. When an elected government came into power in 1985, though, the program was  ended.[23] On July 13, 1998 President Fernando Henrique Cardoso signed and ratified both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), denying that Brazil had developed nuclear weapons.[24]
    Egypt – Had a nuclear weapon research program from 1954 to 1967. Egypt signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [25]
    Nazi Germany – During World War II, Germany, under Nazi rule, researched possibilities to develop a nuclear weapon. However adequate resources were not invested into the effort and the project was found to be many years from completion by the end of the war. The research site was also sabotaged by the British spies and Norwegian partisans which slowed down their research (see Norwegian heavy water sabotage). Historian Rainer Karlsch, in his 2005 book Hitlers Bombe, has suggested that the Nazis may have tested some sort of "atom bomb" in Thuringia in the last year of the war; it  may have been a radiological weapon rather than a fission weapon), though little reliable evidence of this has surfaced. (See: German nuclear energy project) Germany is now a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Although it has an advanced science and technology infrastructure and would be capable of creating a nuclear weapons program (and could probably be considered a "nuclear
 capable" state), the government has decided to decrease even the civil use of nuclear energy.
    Iraq – Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Had a nuclear weapon research program during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraqi nuclear reactor Osiraq. In 1996, the UN's Hans Blix reported that Iraq had dismantled or destroyed all of their nuclear capabilities. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, charging that there was evidence the nation had "weapons of mass destruction" that likely included some form of nuclear program. However in 2004 the Duelfer Report concluded Iraq's nuclear program was terminated in 1991.[26]
    Imperial Japan – Japan conducted research into nuclear weapons during World War II though made little headway.[27] (see Japanese atomic program). Japan signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While Japan has the technological capabilities to develop nuclear weapons in a short time there is no evidence they are doing so. Japan's constitution forbids it from producing nuclear weapons and the country has been active in promoting non-proliferation treaties. There exists some suspicion that nuclear weapons may be located in US bases in Japan.[28]
    Libya – Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. On December 19, 2003, Libya admitted having had a nuclear weapon program and simultaneously announced its intention to end it and dismantle all existing Weapons of Mass Destruction to be verified by unconditional inspections.[29]
    Philippines – Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the Philippines started its nuclear research program in 1958, creating the  Philippine Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) thru Republic Act 2067 (Science Act of 1958) enacted by Congress to undertake research and development activities in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The government built one facility in Quezon City for nuclear research which consists of a live nuclear rector and during the early 1980s, under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, the government built its first nuclear power plant, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Bataan province in the main  island of Luzon, but was never used because of the change of government under the Corazon Aquino administration. Under the present 1987 Philippine Constitution, any kind of nuclear materials are banned from Philippine soil.
    Poland – Nuclear research began in Poland in the early 1960s, with the first controlled nuclear fission reaction being achieved in late 1960s. During the 1970s further research resulted in the generation of fusion neutrons through convergent shockwaves. In the 1980s research focused on the development of micro-nuclear reactions, and was under military control. Currently Poland operates the MARIA nuclear research reactor under the control of the Institute of Atomic Energy, in Świerk near Warsaw. Poland signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and officially possess no nuclear weapons.
    Romania – Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970. In spite of this, under Nicolae Ceauşescu, in the 1980s, Romania had a secret nuclear-weapons development program, that was stopped after the overthrow of Ceauşescu in 1989. Now Romania runs a nuclear power plant of two reactor units (with three more under construction) built with Canadian support. It also mines and enriches its own uranium for the plant and has a research program.[30]
    South Korea – Began a nuclear weapons program in the early 1970s, which was believed abandoned after signing NPT in 1975. However there have been allegations that program may have been continued after this date by the military government.[31] In late 2004, the South Korean government disclosed to the IAEA that scientists in South Korea had extracted plutonium in 1982 and enriched uranium to near-weapons grade in 2000. (see South Korean nuclear research programs)
    Sweden – During the 1950s and 1960s, Sweden seriously investigated nuclear weapons, intended to be deployed over coastal facilities of an invading enemy (the Soviet Union). A very substantial research effort of weapon design and manufacture was conducted resulting in enough knowledge to allow Sweden to manufacture nuclear weapons. A weapon research facility was to be built in Studsvik. Saab made plans for a supersonic nuclear bomber, the A36. However Sweden decided not to pursue a weapon production program and signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Switzerland – Between 1946 and 1969 Switzerland had a secret nuclear program that came into light in 1995. By 1963 theoretical basics with detailed technical proposals, specific arsenals, and cost estimates for Swiss nuclear armaments were made. This program was, however, abandoned partly because of financial costs and by signing the NPT on November 27, 1969.
    The Republic of China (Taiwan) – Conducted a covert nuclear weapon research program from 1964 until 1988 when it was stopped as a result of U.S. pressure.[32] Signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. According to a previously classified 1974 U.S. Defense Department memorandum, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger expressed a view during a meeting with Ambassador Leonard Unger that U.S. nuclear weapons housed in Taiwan needed to be withdrawn.[33] The ROC is said to be currently developing the Tien Chi, a short-range ballistic missile system that could reach the coast of mainland China.[34]
       Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's nuclear ambitions began as early as 1950s when scientists considered both uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. In 1956, the Vinča fuel reprocessing site was constructed, followed by research reactors in 1958 and 1959, for which the Soviets provided heavy water and enriched uranium. In 1966, plutonium reprocessing tests began in Vinča laboratories, resulting in gram quantities of reprocessed plutonium. During the 1950s and 1960s there was also cooperation in plutonium processing between Yugoslavia and Norway. In 1960 Tito froze the nuclear program for unknown reasons, but restarted it, after India's first nuclear tests, in 1974. The program continued even after Tito's death in 1980, divided into two components – for weapons design and civilian nuclear energy, until a decision to stop all nuclear weapons research was made in July 1987. The civilian nuclear program however resulted in a nuclear power plant Krško
 built in 1983, now co-owned by Slovenia and Croatia, and used for peaceful production of electricity.
       Federal Republic of Yugoslavia inherited the Vinča laboratories and 50 kilograms of highly enriched uranium stored at the site. During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Vinča was never hit because NATO was aware of the HEU; indeed, it may have been a reason for the NATO intervention. After the end of NATO bombings the U.S. government and the Nuclear Threat Initiative transported the HEU to Russia – the place from which Yugoslavia originally acquired it.
 Other nuclear-capable states Virtually any industrialized nation today has the technical capability to develop nuclear weapons within several years if the decision to do so were made. Nations already possessing substantial nuclear technology and arms industries could do so in no more than a year or two, perhaps even as fast as a few months or weeks, if they so decided to. The larger industrial nations (Japan and Germany for example) could, within several years of deciding to do so, build arsenals rivaling those of the states that already have nuclear weapons. This list below mentions some notable capabilities possessed by certain states that could potentially be turned to the development of nuclear arsenals. This list represents only strong nuclear capability, not the political will to develop weapons. All of the listed countries have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    Canada - Canada has a well developed nuclear technology base, large uranium reserves and markets reactors for civilian use. While Canada has the technological capabilities to develop nuclear weapons, there is no hard evidence it has done so, nor has Canada ever shown the intention to join the nuclear club outright. Canada has been an important contributor of both expertise and raw materials to the American program in the past, and had even helped with the Manhattan Project. In 1959, NATO proposed to Canada that the RCAF assume a nuclear strike role in Europe. Thus in 1962 six Canadian CF-104 squadrons based in Europe were formed into the RCAF Nuclear Strike Force armed with B28 nuclear bombs (originally Mk 28) under the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program; the Force was disbanded in 1972 when Canada opted out of the nuclear strike role. Canada accepted having American W-40 nuclear warheads under dual key control on Canadian soil in 1963 to be used on the Canadian
 BOMARC missiles. The Canadian air force also maintained a stockpile of AIR-2 Genie unguided nuclear air-to-air rockets as the primary wartime weapon  on the CF-101 Voodoo all-weather interceptor after 1965. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared Canada would be a nuclear weapon-free country in 1971, and the last American warheads were withdrawn in 1984.
    Germany - While Germany is a signatory of the NPT, it has the means to easily equip itself rapidly with nuclear weapons. It has an advanced nuclear industry capable of manufacturing reactors, enriching uranium, fuel fabrication, and fuel reprocessing and it operates 19 power reactors producing one third of its total electrical needs. Since 1998, Germany has adopted a policy of eliminating nuclear power, although slow progress had been made.[35] On January 26, 2006, the former defence minister, Rupert Scholz, said that Germany may need to build its own nuclear weapons to counter terrorist threats.[36]
    Japan - While Japan has no political will for the acquisition of nuclear weapons, the country does make extensive use of nuclear energy in nuclear reactors, generating a significant percentage of the electricity in Japan. Japan has the third largest nuclear energy production after the U.S. and France, and plans to produce over 40% of its electricity using nuclear power by 2010. Significant amounts of plutonium are created as a by-product of the energy production, and Japan had 4.7 tons of plutonium in December 1995. Experts believe Japan has the technology, raw materials, and the capital to produce nuclear weapons within one year if necessary, and some analysts consider it a "de facto" nuclear state for this reason. Others have noted that Japan's most advanced space exploration rocket, the M-5 three-stage solid fuel rocket, is in fact a close copy of the U.S. LG-118A Peacekeeper ICBM. Japan has been quietly reconsidering its nuclear status because of the ongoing crisis
 over North Korean nuclear weapons.[37]
    Italy - Italy has operated a number of nuclear reactors, both for power and for research. The country was also a base for the GLCM nuclear-armed ground-launched variant of the Tomahawk cruise missile during the 1980s, despite strong public outcry. While no evidence suggests that Italy intends to develop or deploy nuclear weapons, such a capability exists - estimates from as far back as the mid-80s show that Italy could begin and complete a nuclear weapons program in as little as 2 to 3 years.
    Lithuania - Nuclear power reactors produce 77% of Lithuania's electricity and it has 2 of the world's most powerful reactors in its territory. However, one of these reactors was recently shut down. Lithuania has the means of legally acquiring fissile materials for power plants. Lithuania also has former launch sites for Soviet Union missiles. However, there is no political will at present to develop nuclear weapons in Lithuania.
    Netherlands - Operates a power reactor at Borsele, producing 452 MW, which satisfies 5% of its electrical needs and has an advanced nuclear research and medical isotopes facility at Petten. Several Dutch companies are key participants in the tri-national Urenco uranium enrichment consortium. By the year 2000 the Netherlands had about 2 tonnes of separated reactor grade plutonium. There is no evidence for nuclear weapon programs in the Netherlands. Also in light of the fierce opposition against nuclear weapon deployment in the 1980s, it is highly unlikely that such a program will ever exist.
    Saudi Arabia - In 2003 members of the government stated that due to the worsening relations with the USA, Saudi Arabia was being forced to consider the development of nuclear weapons. However, so far they have denied that they are making any attempt to produce them.[38] It has been rumored that Pakistan has transferred several nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia, but this is unconfirmed.[39] In March 2006 the German magazine Cicero reported that Saudi Arabia had since 2003 received assistance from Pakistan to acquire nuclear missiles and warheads. Satellite photos allegedly reveal an underground city and nuclear silos with Ghauri rockets south of the capital Riyadh.[40] Pakistan has denied aiding Saudi Arabia in any nuclear ambitions.[41]

Talk is cheap. Use Yahoo! Messenger to make PC-to-Phone calls.  Great rates starting at 1&cent;/min.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application