NBC Weapons: The Once And Future Nuclear Powers



July 7, 2008: Over the last 63 years, ten nations (United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, Israel, South Africa, Pakistan, India, and North Korea) have developed nuclear weapons. South Africa developed theirs in the 1970s and 80s, but dismantled the program in the early 1990s. They are the only nation, so far, to develop nukes, then give them up.

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine inherited nuclear weapons when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 (and everyone agreed that whatever Soviet assets were on the territory of the 14 new nations created from parts of the Soviet Union, were the property of the new country.) Russia, with the financial and diplomatic help of Western nations, bought the nukes from those three nations and dismantled the weapons.

Argentina, Brazil, Libya, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan all had nuclear weapons development programs, but dismantled them, either voluntarily or through various forms of persuasion.

Iran and Syria currently have nuclear weapons development programs, but are under great pressure to stop them. Some other industrialized nations (like Japan and Taiwan) are believed to have plans to rapidly (in less than a year) develop nuclear weapons. This would be done if they were threatened by a nearby nuclear power (like China, or, for Japan, Russia as well).

North Korea is also under a lot of pressure to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. Apparently, North Korea has only developed a crude bomb design, and needs lots of money, and several years, to create a usable bomb (or warhead for one of its ballistic missiles).


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