Nuclear pursuits: Non-P-5 nuclear-armed states, 2013

By Timothy McDonnell | January 1, 2013

"Globe" by Judy ** is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons the countries India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and South Africa have?

Over the past decade, a number of governments around the world have begun to declassify more information on their nuclear weapons programs—Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, to name a few. Though this progress is patchy, and could even be reversed in certain cases, the material helps scholars begin to understand the underlying sources of national decision making when it comes to nuclear issues.

The states that have developed nuclear arms can be divided into two categories. In the first group are the nuclear weapon states, which, as defined under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), are allowed to possess nuclear weapons—China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States. In the second group are the nuclear-armed states—India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and South Africa—which have developed nuclear weapons outside the framework of the treaty. Unsurprisingly, a considerable amount of information is known about the nuclear weapon states’ arsenals because of their maturity and relative stability. With the exception of South Africa, considerably less is known and understood about the arsenals that belong to the nuclear-armed states…

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The Nuclear Notebook is usually researched and written by Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists and Robert S. Norris, a senior fellow with the FAS. In this Nuclear Notebook, guest author Timothy McDonnell reviews the five states that developed nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and South Africa—and explores the milestones associated with each country’s weapons program. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook column has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987.


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