The above table shows
the estimated nuclear arsenals of the countries suspected to hold
the greatest number of thermonuclear devices. This list does not
include the countries
thought to hold smaller arsenals, or those who
are currently developing nuclear weapons.
US, USSR, France ,
China , Israel and Great Britain have a substancial nuclear
With Smaller Arsenals
Pakistan and India
have nuclear weapons.
In May 1974 India tested 10 kiloton device.
In 1979 a US satellite
detected a flash of light
in the Indian Ocean, near South Africa.
South Africa denied
In 1989 President Carter reported that this was
probably not a nuclear test.
Countries assumed to
be near creating nuclear deterrent include Argentina, Brazil, Iran,
Iraq, North and South Korea. Iraq the closest to creating a usable
bomb. At the time of the Gulf War it was estimated the country was
between 2-5 years from producing a usable bomb.
In order to
reduce the number of nuclear weapons, and thus reduce the cost of
manufacturing and maintaining a nuclear arsenal, 3 Arms limitation
treaties have been ratifed by the leading nuclear powers.
Limitation Treaty "SALT" + "SALT 2".
In 1998, US and USSR, signed intermediate range nuclear forces
treaty. This eliminated an entire class of nuclear missiles.
Reduction Treaty "START" called for 70% reductions in nuclear
arsenals over 7 years.
Although the risk of
all out nuclear war between America and Russia is now remote, the
threat of nuclear exchange still hangs over us.
Of special concern is the break up of the Soviet Union as there is
now no overall control.
The greatest concern,
however, is rogue countries or terrorists acquiring nuclear
material . There have been several unsuccessful attempts to smuggle
nuclear material out of the former Soviet Union.
It is not known how many attempts have succeeded.