The nuclear club: who’s in and who’s out

With North Korea in mind, Left Foot Forward has taken a look around the world at who's in and who's out of the WMD club.

With North Korea ramping up its anti-US rhetoric, many in and around the Korean peninsula are increasingly worried. Much of this concern stems not only from the fact that North Korea is increasingly unpredictable, but from the belief that North Korea possesses a nuclear weapon.

A totalitarian country directing aggressive rhetoric towards its neighbours is one thing. A regime doing so while sitting on top of at least one nuclear weapon is quite another.

With the hermit kingdom in mind, Left Foot Forward has taken a look around the world at who’s in and who’s out of the WMD club.

Currently there are eight public nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, North Korea and Pakistan.

The first four are designated nuclear states under the 1970 non-Proliferation Treaty which sought to limit the spread and growth of nuclear arms. Since then, India, Pakistan and most controversially North Korea have all developed nuclear weapons in direct contradiction of the treaty.

It is believed that Israel is the ninth nuclear power, with estimations that the country has in the region of 120 nuclear warheads. The Israeli government refuses to confirm or deny this.

Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Ukraine all returned their nuclear weapons to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

South Africa once possessed nuclear warheads but disassembled them in the early 90’s shortly before the apartheid government fell.

Argentina, Brazil, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Japan, South Korea have all allegedly attempted at some point to produce nuclear weapons in but have scrapped their programmes before results could be reached.

Australia, Canada, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Serbia before Yugoslavia disintegrated, were all suspected to possess nuclear programmes at some point during the cold war but scrapped them.

Nuclear map

Source: infoplease

The graph below shows the growth and decline in nuclear weapons since the end of the Second World War.

Nuclear Weapons

Source: Johnston archive

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