Countries With Nuclear Weapons
Before discussing the countries that have nuclear weapons, it’s important to understand what nuclear weapons are. A nuclear weapon is defined as an explosive. There are two types of explosives: fission bombs and thermonuclear bombs.
Fission bombs are detonated through a fission nuclear reaction. Bombs that are detonated through a combination of fission and fusion are thermonuclear bombs. Nuclear weapons have been used twice during war. The first was detonated by the United States against Japan near the end of World War II. The uranium fission bomb was detonated over the city of Hiroshima. Just three days later, a plutonium bomb was detonated by the United States over the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Over 200,000 people died as a result of these bombings, lead some to question the ethics behind the use of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear bombs haven’t just been detonated those two times, although that was the only two times they were used in war. Nuclear weapons have been tested and demonstrated thousands of times.
There are just eight nations that have successfully detonated nuclear weapons. Five of these nations are designated as nuclear-weapon States through the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or the NPT. These nations are the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.
Three additional states have conducted nuclear testing but are not part of the NPT. These nations are North Korea, India and Pakistan. Israel also possesses nuclear weapons but does not acknowledge this face and it is unknown as to whether or not it has actually conducted testing.
Other nations previously held nuclear weapons. Those include South Africa and the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. As of 2017, the estimated number of nuclear weapons worldwide is 9,220.