Special Report

Every Nuclear Nation's Capabilities

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6. Pakistan
> Nuclear stockpile: 140-150
> Year of first nuclear test: 1998
> Annual military spending: $11.4 billion (20th most)
> GDP: $304.9 billion

Pakistan, which has been in conflict with India since the two countries became independent in 1947, is prioritizing the development and deployment of nuclear weapons. SIPRI estimates that Pakistan has up to 150 nuclear warheads. Pakistan conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 1998.

While India has adopted a no first-use doctrine and intends to only deploy nuclear weapons in retaliation to a nuclear attack, Pakistan has not. Pakistan’s weapons are intended to be used in a first-strike capacity against non-nuclear forces. Pakistan’s arsenal includes nuclear-capable short-range missiles that analysts believe are meant for small-scale conflict against conventional forces. Pakistan is also augmenting its sea-based nuclear capability to match India’s nuclear triad. Like India, Pakistan has not signed the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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5. United Kingdom
> Nuclear stockpile: 215
> Year of first nuclear test: 1952
> Annual military spending: $50.0 billion (seventh most)
> GDP: $2.63 trillion

The United Kingdom, which became the third nuclear power-nation in 1952, once had one of the largest nuclear stockpiles in the world. Today, the U.K. is reducing its nuclear inventory and has about 215 warheads. Its goal is to downsize its arsenal to as low as 180 by the mid-2020s. The British nuclear deterrent consists entirely of a sea-based force of four Vanguard class Trident nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs)

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4. China
> Nuclear stockpile: 280
> Year of first nuclear test: 1964
> Annual military spending: $250.0 billion (second most)
> GDP: $12.23 trillion

China conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 1964 and is today believed to have an arsenal of about 280 warheads. Of the total number of nuclear warheads, about 234 are land- and sea-based ballistic missiles.

The world’s most populous nation is modernizing and increasing the size of its nuclear stockpile, including its inventory of intercontinental ballistic missiles. China’s push to improve the quality of its weapons systems is in response to the ballistic missile defenses and precision-guided conventional strike systems that the United States is deploying. China has emphasized its commitment to minimum deterrence and a no first-use policy.

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3. France
> Nuclear stockpile: 300
> Year of first nuclear test: 1960
> Annual military spending: $63.8 billion (fifth most)
> GDP: $2.58 trillion

In 1960, France became the fourth country to test a nuclear weapon, and today it has a stockpile of about 300 warheads, the largest arsenal of any country other than the United States and Russia. The main aspect of France’s nuclear weapons capability is its fleet of four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which entered service in 1997. One of these submarines is on patrol at all times.

Since the late 1980s, France has been gradually reducing its nuclear capability. The country dismantled its nuclear test site in the South Pacific by 1998 and has eliminated all land-based weapons from its nuclear arsenal.

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2. United States
> Nuclear stockpile: 6,450
> Year of first nuclear test: 1945
> Annual military spending: $649.0 billion (most)
> GDP: $19.48 trillion

The United States was the first country to build nuclear weapons and remains the only nation to use an atomic weapon during wartime. When the Soviet Union detonated an atomic bomb in 1949, that ushered in an arms race between the Cold War opponents. At its peak in 1967, the United States had amassed 31,255 active warheads.

Since that time, the United States has dismantled the majority of its weapons. Today, the U.S. military has about 6,450 nuclear warheads. The United States is reducing warheads in accordance with the 2010 New START treaty. According to SIPRI, the United States has begun a nuclear modernization program that aims to replace or upgrade its land-, sea- and air-based nuclear weapons systems.

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1. Russia
> Nuclear stockpile: 6,850
> Year of first nuclear test: 1949
> Annual military spending: $61.4 billion (sixth most)
> GDP: $1.58 trillion

By 1986, the Soviet Union had an estimated 45,000 warheads stockpiled. After the Soviet Union had broken apart in 1991, its nuclear weapons were distributed among several of the new republics, including Kazakhstan and Ukraine, but were believed to be consolidated in Russia by 1996. Since then, Russia has been involved in a global process of disarmament. SIPRI estimates the country has about 6,850 warheads.

The reduction in Russia’s deployed strategic warheads is in accordance with the 2010 New START treaty. The U.S. Air Force’s National Intelligence and Space Center estimates that Russia’s ICBM force will continue to decrease because of arms control agreements and the retirement of aging missiles.