Nuclear weapons have long had a central role in international security. At the height of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union reached a position of mutually assured destruction, whereby a nuclear attack would ensure the complete annihilation of both countries.
While nuclear disarmament has reduced the destructive potential of the world’s military powers, approximately 9,425 operational nuclear warheads remain ready to be deployed. While most countries have been working to reduce their nuclear stockpiles or have pledged not to pursue nuclear capabilities, some nations have been upgrading and expanding their nuclear arsenals.
Notably, North Korea has generated international notoriety and earned aggressive sanctions as it continues to develop its nuclear capabilities. The nation is believed to have successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on the Fourth of July.
Using data provided by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine countries with the largest nuclear stockpiles. Most countries do not publicize the exact figures of their nuclear weapons inventories, so some SIPRI figures are estimates based on expert analysis.