Nuclear weapons are potent weapons that can destroy an entire city in minutes, resulting in the deaths of all inhabitants. Because they have an effect on the environments of future generations, their radioactive influence can be detected long after the damage they cause.
During World War II, the United States used nuclear weapons to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Since then, numerous nations have continued to develop nuclear weapons.
The 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the most significant bilateral and multilateral treaty governing international agreements. The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an agreement between member governments not to increase or spread their nuclear weapons stockpiles.
In addition, the NPT established a commitment to disarmament or reduction of nuclear weapons. The distinction between non-proliferation and disarmament is distinct, and the “Waltz-Sagan dispute” highlights the divergent perspectives. Nuclear weapon development is a closely guarded government secret.
The accuracy of the presented figures is dubious at best, as they are primarily based on educated estimates derived from historical data and judgments regarding nuclear material ownership and the technological capacity to weaponize nuclear material by developing a delivery system. Following are current estimates of nuclear weapons in use by nations.
Countries with the Most Nuclear Weapons Worldwide in 2022
01. Russia has 6,255 nuclear weapons
The Soviet Union conducted the first nuclear test in 1949. (RDS-1). During and after World War II, espionage contributed knowledge to this crash project. After the United States, the Soviet Union was the second nation to develop and test nuclear weapons.
Most estimates indicate that Russia has the world's largest nuclear arsenal. As of 2022, Putin possessed 6,255 nuclear weapons, according to the Stockholm Peace Institute. Other nuclear proliferation watchdogs estimate the range to be between 5,977 and 6,257.
According to estimates, 1,760 warheads are currently in the process of being decommissioned. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Russia inherited 35,000 nuclear weapons, the size of Russia's nuclear arsenal has shrunk significantly.
Since 2011, both Russia and the United States have been bound by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The pact limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs to 1,550.
02. The United State Of America – (5,550 – Nuclear Weapons)
Fearing that Nazi Germany might develop nuclear weapons first, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada collaborated on the Manhattan Project during World War II to create the first nuclear weapons.
On July 16, 1945, it was the first nation to use nuclear weapons in a war, destroying the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons in combat.
It was the first nation to test a hydrogen bomb prototype in 1952, and the first nation to test a deployable weapon in 1954. Throughout the Cold War, the United States continued to improve and expand its nuclear arsenal, but since 1992 it has focused primarily on stockpile management.
The United States possesses approximately 5,550 nuclear weapons, 1,800 of which are ‘deployed,' meaning they are on missiles or in active facilities. The United States has been the only nation to use an atomic bomb in combat until now.
03. China: (290 – Nuclear Weapons)
China conducted its first nuclear weapon test at the Lop Nur test site in 1964. The weapon was intended to deter both the United States and the Soviet Union. China developed a fission bomb that could be loaded into a nuclear missile two years later.
32 months after testing its first nuclear weapon, it tested its first hydrogen bomb. Following the lead of the United States and Russia, each country's nuclear arsenal has been drastically reduced. China has one-tenth the resources of the United States.
A Pentagon report issued last November warned that China's nuclear arsenal was growing faster than the US had anticipated a year earlier. The US is concerned that Beijing will have more than 1,000 weapons by 2030.
04. France: (290 – Nuclear Weapons)
France, with 290 nuclear weapons, is one of the countries with the most nuclear weapons in the world. The majority of these weapons are submarine-based, with the remainder being air-launched cruise missiles.
The country conducted its first nuclear attack test in 1960. France promises to adhere to a “strict sufficiency” policy, keeping its nuclear arsenal at the “lowest strategic level achievable.”
05. The United Kingdom: (225 – Nuclear Weapons)
The United Kingdom tested the first nuclear weapon, dubbed “Hurricane,” in 1952. Early supporters of the atomic bomb idea included Austrian, German, and Polish physicists working at British institutions who had left or refused to return to Nazi Germany or Nazi-controlled countries.
The UK collaborated closely with the US and Canada during the Manhattan Project, but as US secrecy increased after 1945, it was forced to develop its own method of producing and detonating a bomb.
The United Kingdom, after the United States and the Soviet Union, became the world's third country to develop and test nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom possesses approximately 225 nuclear weapons and began its nuclear weapons program during WWII.
Arms are deployed at sea and delivered by Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles manufactured in the United States. Trident is a Royal Navy submarine fleet of four submarines based at HMNB Clyde in Scotland. To date, the government has conducted 45 nuclear weapons tests.
06. Pakistan: (165 – Nuclear Weapons)
Pakistan is not an official signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan has been secretly developing nuclear weapons since the late 1970s.
Pakistan first used nuclear weapons in the early 1970s, when it constructed its first nuclear power plant in Karachi using mostly Western-supplied equipment and components.
Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto stated in 1971 that if India could build nuclear weapons, so could Pakistan: “We would develop Nuclear stockpiles even if we had to eat grass.”
Pakistan currently has 165 nuclear weapons and intends to build more by 2021. The country's tense relationship with India has a significant impact on the rate at which nuclear weapons are produced. In 1988, Pakistan resumed nuclear testing, citing national security concerns.
07. India: (156 – Nuclear Weapons)
India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India implemented the “no first use” policy in 1998. India conducted a test of a “peaceful nuclear explosive” (dubbed “Smiling Buddha”) in 1974.
The test was the first since the NPT's inception, and it raised new concerns about how civilian nuclear technology could be subtly converted to military purposes (dual-use technology).
With 156 nuclear weapons, India has been in an arms race with Pakistan for a long time. However, recent tensions with China make the production of nuclear weapons more difficult. As a result, any attempt by India to modernize its nuclear weapons will be interpreted by Pakistan as a threat, escalating the nuclear arms race.
08. North Korea: (50 – Nuclear Weapons)
North Korea claimed to have operational nuclear weapons in February 2005, but the lack of a test at the time led many analysts to doubt the claim.
North Korea announced in October 2006 that it would conduct a nuclear test to legitimize its nuclear posture in response to rising US threats. On October 9, 2006, North Korea claimed the successful completion of a nuclear test.
North Korea is thought to have the fewest nuclear weapons on the list, with 50, despite being a notoriously secretive country. The government agreed to a freeze on nuclear and long-range missile testing in 2018, but long-range missile testing resumed in 2020.
Under Kim Jong Un's leadership, North Korea has conducted numerous missile tests over the Sea of Japan, heightening fears of an attack. Kim has stated that his country's military and nuclear arsenals will be strengthened.