Special Report

The 8 Countries With The Largest Nuclear Arsenals

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9. North Korea
> Total nuclear warheads: 20
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: N/A
> Number of stored warheads: N/A
> Year of first test: 2006
> Defense budget (2020): N/A

Ever fearful of foreign intervention, leaders of the Hermit Kingdom have aggressively pursued the development of nuclear weapons systems to serve as a deterrent. North Korea maintains a “no-first-use” policy since its fourth nuclear weapons test in 2016, but the country’s strictly controlled media has made nuclear threats for perceived provocations, like U.S.-South Korean military exercises. FAS estimates that North Korea may have produced enough fissile material to build between 40 and 50 nuclear weapons, though it may not have assembled that many.

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8. Israel
> Total nuclear warheads: 90
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: N/A
> Number of stored warheads: 90
> Year of first test: 2008
> Defense budget (2020): $21.7 billion

It is an open secret that Israel has nuclear weapons, but because the country does not acknowledge its possession of such weapons, it is very difficult to conduct research on Israel’s nuclear capabilities. Still, it is believed that Israel has air and land-based nuclear weapons delivery systems as well as a rumored sea-based land-attack cruise missiles. Israel’s primary security concern is that Iran could soon develop its own nuclear weapons.

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7. India
> Total nuclear warheads: 160
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: N/A
> Number of stored warheads: 160
> Year of first test: 1974
> Defense budget (2020): $72.9 billion

India and Pakistan have stockpiled plenty of nuclear arms to wipe each other out amid cold war-like tensions regarding the territorial dispute of the Kashmir region that both countries claim. India can launch nuclear weapons by air, land, and sea, and it is believed to be expanding its land-based ballistic missile stockpile. India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads but has likely produced only 150 to 160.

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6. Pakistan
> Total nuclear warheads: 165
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: N/A
> Number of stored warheads: 165
> Year of first test: 1998
> Defense budget (2020): $10.4 billion

Tensions between Pakistan and India make this one of the world’s most tense nuclear standoffs. Both countries are expanding their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems. U.S. intelligence may vastly underestimate how many nuclear weapons Pakistan would have developed by 2020. Like its adversary, India, Pakistan can launch nuclear warheads from air, land, and sea. FAS estimates that the country’s stockpile could grow to around 200 by 2025.

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5. United Kingdom
> Total nuclear warheads: 225
> Number of deployed nuclear warheads: 120
> Number of stored warheads: 60
> Year of first test: 1952
> Defense budget (2020): $59.2 billion

The U.K. has the fifth-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, with more than half available for quick deployment on four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The U.K. is the only nuclear weapon country that has only one deterrence system. One Vanguard carrying about 40 warheads is deployed at sea at all times as an ongoing deterrent. In 2021, the U.K. government announced the country would increase its stockpile ceiling to up to 260 warheads.

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