Special Report

Every Nuclear Nation's Capabilities

Source: Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia Commons

11. Syria
> Nuclear stockpile: N/A
> Year of first nuclear test: N/A
> Annual military spending: N/A
> GDP: $40.4 billion

Syria is a non-nuclear weapon-nation with a chemical weapons program. It is also suspected of having a biological weapons capability. In the past, the country has shown interest in acquiring nuclear capability. That led to the destruction of its suspected Al-Kubar nuclear facility by Israel in 2007. Syria still poses a risk of nuclear proliferation, though the civil war that has ravaged the country since 2011 has limited its weapons capabilities, including reducing its short-range ballistic and cruise missile inventory.

Source: silverjohn / Getty Images

10. Iran
> Nuclear stockpile: N/A
> Year of first nuclear test: N/A
> Annual military spending: N/A
> GDP: $454.0 billion

Aided by its former ally — the United States — Iran has been developing nuclear technology since the 1950s. That assistance ended after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, but Iran continued to develop its nuclear energy program and bolster its enrichment capabilities.

Concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions intensified after 2003, and as a result, the U.N. security council voted on sanctions in 2006. In 2015, Iran agreed to reduce the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds, ban enrichment at certain facilities, and limit uranium research and development in exchange for relief from the sanctions. Three years later, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement and reimposed sanctions against the regime, claiming Iranian support for terrorism justifies the withrdrawal.

Source: Lucas Green / Getty Images

9. North Korea
> Nuclear stockpile: 10-20 (estimate)
> Year of first nuclear test: 2006
> Annual military spending: N/A
> GDP: N/A

The true extent of North Korea’s nuclear program continues to be elusive because the nation is a closed society. Its nuclear weapons ambitions are the centerpiece of its national security and a threat to South Korea. It is estimated that North Korea may have as many as 20 nuclear weapons.

In 2016, North Korea said it was producing highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear weapons. On Sept. 3, 2017, the country conducted its sixth nuclear test explosion at the Punggye-ri underground test site and announced this was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb, though the scientific community was skeptical of this. North Korea is also expanding and modernizing its ballistic missile force and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) capabilities. Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump have discussed denuclearization of the peninsula during two summit meeting within the last year.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

8. Israel
> Nuclear stockpile: 80 (estimate)
> Year of first nuclear test: N/A
> Annual military spending: $15.9 billion (17th most)
> GDP: $353.3 billion

Israel will neither confirm nor deny the existence of a nuclear arsenal, and it will not acknowledge having conducted a nuclear test. The Middle Eastern nation has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Even so, SIPRI estimates Israel has about 80 nuclear weapons. Several bunkers believed to contain about 30 nuclear bombs for delivery by combat aircraft are located at an airbase south of Tel Aviv, according to SIPRI, with the remaining 50 weapons poised for delivery by land-based ballistic missiles.

Source: Muhammad Mahdi Karim / Wikimedia Commons

7. India
> Nuclear stockpile: 130-140
> Year of first nuclear test: 1974
> Annual military spending: $66.5 billion (fourth most)
> GDP: $2.65 trillion

India makes public announcements about its nuclear tests but does not provide information about its nuclear inventory. India and Pakistan have had a tense relationship — since the two nations became independent in 1947 they have fought three wars, though none of the conflicts has escalated into a nuclear war. The two nations, nevertheless, are in a nuclear arms race.

India conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 1974 and is believed to have as many as 140 nuclear weapons. India has declared a policy of no first use, and claims that its nuclear arsenal is solely a deterrent. According to SIPRI, India is expanding its nuclear arsenal and capacity for building nuclear warheads. The country is also building the naval portion of its nuclear triad (land, air, and sea) by adding to its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. India has not signed the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons