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Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons are the common name given for explosive devices that are created with a nuclear reaction. These weapons harness an indestructible force that is accomplished through the separation or formation of atoms. The two ways that an atom can release nuclear energy are Nuclear Fissions and Nuclear Fusions. A Nuclear Fission involves the separation of the nucleus within an atom to split into 2 smaller fragments, typically involving Uranium or Plutonium. Nuclear Fusion involves the combination of two smaller atoms being brought together, typically hydrogen or hydrogen isotopes. The two nuclear bombs that really demonstrated the truly breath-taking destructive power were shown during WWII, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With an approximate 200,000 death toll, the nuclear bombs have created an everlasting presence that still affects the cities to this date. Currently, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) defines Nuclear-Weapon states as those that have built and test nuclear weapons prior to 1967, this includes USA, Russia, UK, France and China. Apart from these states, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have openly tested and declared possession of nuclear weapons. Israel is also estimated to have nuclear weapons but remains ambiguous about the issue regarding this topic.

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United States of America

The United States of America, being the largest superpower in the world currently has the second largest amount of Nuclear Weapons, behind Russia. With a current 6800 nuclear weapons, the USA has demonstrated their presence within international affairs as a country that is not afraid to use them. Being the first country to have ever manufactured nuclear weapons, the USA is also the only country to have used them in combat. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were attacked during WWII with nuclear weapons by the USA, truly revealing the destructive force of the weapons, as well as the involvement of USA in international affairs. It has also been estimated that since the creation of nuclear weapons, in 1945, America has created the most amount of nuclear warheads, a total of 70,000.

Russia

Russia currently has the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world, they should not be taken lightly. With approximately 7000 nuclear warheads, Russia keeps the exact number a secret among the government. Being the country with the largest amount of nuclear weapons is definitely a scary sight, especially when 90% of all nuclear weapons belong to 2 countries. With a total production of 55,000 nuclear weapons since 1949, Russia had a total peak amount of nuclear warheads in 1988 with 45,000 weapons. Russia and America have also created a bilateral treaty called START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which negotiated the most complex arms control treaty in history. The final implementation of this treaty in 2001 reduced strategic weapons by about 80 percent. The new START treaty has listed aggregate limits that each country is allowed to maintain, such as 1550 Nuclear Warheads on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers. The New START Treaty came into force in 2011, lasting for ten years, this treaty terminated the 2002 Moscow treaty that was currently in place.

India

India is also one of the very few countries in this world that possess Nuclear weapons. Although they have merely a fraction of other states, their presence in international affairs is acknowledged. India has the second largest population in the world, along with a very strong military force. Although the 110 current nuclear weapons that India has seem miniscule, India was estimated to have a total 8300 kg amount of civilian plutonium, enough to create 1,000 nuclear weapons. India, being one of the four countries not signed onto the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) poses a huge threat to the rest of the world. Not being included in the restriction of nuclear development means that India has the potential to create thousands of nuclear weapons, all that's needed is the resources. The first nuclear test was conducted in 1974 as a matter of peaceful purposes due to the aggression that China was demonstrating at the time. This raised concerns that the purpose of the weapons would change from peaceful to weapons purposes, along with the statement of the first Prime Minister of India in regards to nuclear weapons, “But if India is threatened, she will inevitably try to defend herself by all means at her disposal”. As a response to the continued tests in 1998, USA and China imposed sanctions on India, however, these sanctions are currently not in place, they have been lifted.

France

France currently has one of the strongest military powers in the world. Being the fourth country to independently test nuclear weapons in 1960, France is acknowledged as one of the five Nuclear Weapons States in the NPT. Having the third-largest amount of nuclear weapons, France currently has 300 nuclear warheads, less than 5% of USA or Russia’s total stockpile. Regardless of France’s position as having the third-largest amount of nuclear weapons, this position is extremely over-rated. Russia currently has 7000 nuclear weapons and USA has 6800 nuclear weapons, France has a mere 300 nuclear explosives in its arsenal. France, unwilling to sign the Partial Test Ban Treaty, later signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), in 1996 and 1998, respectively. The CTBT is a multilateral treaty banning all nuclear explosions for both civilian and military purposes. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, this treaty has not yet entered fully been forced as 8 nations have not yet ratified the treaty.

Iran

Iran currently has no nuclear weapons and is acknowledged in the international community likewise. After signing many treaties that restrict their ability to possess them such as the NPT, they are renowned for have a strong nuclear program overall. After having suffered major casualties from weapons during the 1980 Iran-Iraq war, Iran has gained first-hand knowledge of the destructive forces that these weapons possess. With almost 100,000 Iranian troops and civilians being victimized, this theocratic state has created public and categorical religious decrees against the production, use, development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei along with other major clerics, this decree is meant to last. More current versions of this decree however forbid the use of nuclear weapons, but say nothing about the production.

Nigeria

Nigeria is a state that currently does not have any nuclear weapons, and hasn’t showed any interest in researching, developing or creating any. Since 1970, Nigeria has been a part of the NPT, recognized as a Non-Nuclear Weapon State and has also signed and ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Recently, Nigeria had discussions with North Korea in regards to North Korea sharing nuclear missiles technology with them. Currently there have been no details released on whether Nigeria would receive these weapons, but they insist that the nuclear weapons would be solely used for peacekeeping and maintaining safety in its territory.

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