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The Nuclear Factor

What is the current state of nuclear proliferation arsenals around the world?

In 1995, 173 states — by agreeing to make the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permanent — pledged to give up forever the option of acquiring nuclear weapons. They did so in return for an explicitly reaffirmed commitment by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States to eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
In May 1998, India announced that it had exploded five nuclear devices. Two weeks later, Pakistan boasted of six nuclear explosions of its own. Neither country has signed the NPT.
In 2003, news emerged that a network of scientists, engineers and middlemen from Pakistan, Switzerland, England, Germany, Sri Lanka and Malaysia had for years sold nuclear bomb designs and equipment necessary to produce nuclear weapons. Buyers included North Korea, Iran, Libya and perhaps other states. This development raised the specter of a “proliferation Wal-Mart.”
As the NPT now stands, countries can acquire technologies that bring them to the brink of nuclear weapons capability without explicitly violating the agreement. They can then leave the treaty without penalty.
India, Pakistan and Israel have not joined the NPT. They broke no treaty in acquiring nuclear weapons. But in varying degrees, their status beyond the boundaries of the NPT-based regime undermines efforts to prevent the spread or use of nuclear weapons.
Status of Nuclear Weapons Programs

Data Source: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In the 1960s, 21 countries had nuclear weapons — or considered nuclear weapon programs: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yugoslavia.
By the 1980s, 18 countries had weapons or programs: Argentina, Brazil, China, France, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Yugoslavia.
As of 2006, only eight states are confirmed to have nuclear weapons: China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Iran is suspected of having an active nuclear weapons program, while North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion test on October 16, 2006 (estimated at less than one kiloton) and claims to possess nuclear weapons.
Abandoning the Race for Nukes

Data Source: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Currently, 19 countries possess short-range ballistic missiles (with ranges of less than 1,000 km): Afghanistan, Armenia, Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Slovak Republic, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen.
Seven countries possess medium-range ballistic missiles (1,000-3,000 km): China, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
One country possesses intermediate-range ballistic missiles (3,000-5,000 km): China.
Five countries possess intercontinental ballistic missiles (5,500+ km): China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

Adapted from: “Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security” published in March of 2005 by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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