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Pakistan has more nukes than India!

Last updated on: June 14, 2016 11:29 IST
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India is behind Pakistan with regards to nuclear warheads but beats Israel as well as North Korea, a report by the Stockholm-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute revealed.

The other nuclear weapon-possessing states have much smaller arsenals, but have all either begun to deploy new nuclear weapon delivery systems or announced their intention to do so, it added.

At the start of 2016, nine nations -- the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea -- possessed approximately 4,120 operationally deployed nuclear weapons.

If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possessed a total of approximately 15,395 nuclear weapons compared with 15,850 in early 2015, the report said.

The United States, Russia and the United Kingdom are reducing their warhead inventories, but the pace of reduction is slowing compared to the past 25 years. France and Israel have relatively stable inventories, while China, Pakistan, India and North Korea are increasing their warhead inventories. present a comprehensive listing of these nations and their collective and active nuclear stockpile, based on the study's findings.

1) India

IMAGE: The study estimates an increase in the size of the Indian nuclear stockpile from the 90-110 warheads estimated in January 2015. Photograph: Reuters

Estimated warheads: 100-120

Deployed warheads: N/A

First test: 1974

In addition to the 4,490 in the military stockpile, an estimated 2,800 retired warheads are estimated to be awaiting dismantlement. Details are scarce, but Russia is dismantling approximately 500 retired warheads per year, according to the report. 

2) United States

IMAGE: The US is planning significant redesigns of its employed nuclear warheads mounted on ballistic missiles, known as interoperable warheads, which mix components from different types of existing warheads into new designs. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

Estimated warheads: 7,000 

Deployed warheads: 1,930

First test: 1945

As of January 2016, the USA maintained a stockpile of approximately 4,500 operational nuclear warheads.

This included approximately 1,930 deployed nuclear warheads, consisting of roughly 1,750 strategic and 180 non-strategic (tactical) warheads. In addition to this deployed arsenal, about 2,570 warheads were held in reserve, and another roughly 2,500 retired warheads were scheduled for dismantlement, for a total US stockpile of approximately 7,000 warheads.

The USA has plans to invest in its nuclear infrastructure. These include modernizing nuclear command and control facilities and building new nuclear weapon production and simulation facilities

3) Russia

IMAGE: Russia’s nuclear modernisation is motivated by the need to replace old systems, maintain rough overall parity with the USA, enhance weapon survivability and efficiency, and enhance national prestige. Photograph: Reuters

Estimated warheads: 7,290

Deployed warheads: 1,790

First test: 1949

As of January 2016, Russia maintained an arsenal of approximately 4,490 nuclear warheads assigned to nuclear-capable delivery vehicles.

About 2,540 of these are strategic warheads, of which around 1,790 are deployed on ballistic missiles and at bomber bases. Russia also possessed nearly 1,950 non-strategic (tactical) nuclear warheads, all of which are in central storage. A further 2,800 warheads are in reserve or retired and awaiting dismantlement, for a total Russian stockpile of roughly 7,290 warheads.

The size of Russia’s nuclear arsenal is expected to decline further over the next decade, even without a follow-on arms reduction treaty, due to financial constraints.

4) Britain

IMAGE: According to the study, the overall size of the nuclear stockpile, including non-deployed warheads, will decrease to no more than 180 by the mid-2020s. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Estimated warheads: 215

Deployed warheads: 120

First test: 1952

As of January 2016, the British nuclear stockpile consisted of approximately 215 warheads.

In its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the British government reaffirmed plans to cut the size of the nuclear arsenal. The stockpile of operationally available nuclear warheads has already been reduced from 180 to the new limit of 120. The overall size of the nuclear stockpile, including non-deployed warheads, will decrease to no more than 180 by the mid-2020s.

5) France

IMAGE: The main component of France’s nuclear arsenal consists of four Triomphant class SSBNs. The French Navy is modernizing the Triomphant class submarines to carry the M51 SLBM, with the work expected to be completed by 2019. Photograph: Reuters

Estimated warheads: 300

Deployed warheads: 280

First test: 1960

France’s nuclear arsenal comprises approximately 300 warheads that are earmarked for delivery by SLBMs and aircraft-launched cruise missiles. The main component of France’s nuclear arsenal consists of four Triomphant class SSBNs.

The French Navy is modernizing the Triomphant class submarines to carry the M51 SLBM, with the work expected to be completed by 2019. 

6) China

IMAGE: Of China’s triad of land, sea and air-based nuclear forces, only the land-based ballistic missiles and nuclear-configured aircraft are currently considered operational (with aircraft only in a secondary nuclear role). Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

Estimated warheads: 260

Deployed warheads: N/A

First test: 1964

China maintains an estimated total stockpile of about 260 nuclear warheads, a number that has remained relatively stable over many years but is slowly increasing. 

In 2015, China published its latest biennial defence white paper, which reaffirmed that China’s nuclear strategy is defensive in nature and that its nuclear forces have only two purposes -- ‘strategic deterrence and nuclear counterattack’. These forces are maintained at the minimum level required for safeguarding China’s sovereignty and national security.

The 2015 defence white paper also reaffirmed China’s long-standing nuclear no-first-use policy as a cornerstone of its deterrence posture.

7) Pakistan

IMAGE: Pakistan has developed nuclear-capable short-range missiles that appear to be intended for tactical nuclear roles and missions with their purpose apparently to off set India’s superior conventional forces in limited conflict scenarios. All photographs: Mian Khursheed/Reuters 

Estimated warheads: 110-130

Deployed warheads: N/A

First test: 1998

As of January 2016 Pakistan was estimated to possess a stockpile of 110–130 warheads. This marked an increase from the 100–120 warheads estimated for 2015.

Pakistan has acknowledged that it is seeking to match India’s nuclear triad by developing a sea-based nuclear force. There has been considerable speculation that the sea-based force will initially consist of nuclear-armed, submarine-launched cruise missiles deployed on submarines or on surface ships.

8) Israel

IMAGE: Of Israel's arsenal approximately 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft. Photograph: Ammar Awad/Reuters

Estimated warheads: 80

Deployed warheads: N/A

First test: N/A

Israel continues to maintain its long-standing policy of nuclear opacity. It neither officially confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons. Israel is estimated to have approximately 80 nuclear weapons. 

There are unconfirmed reports that Israel may be equipping its fleet of six German-built Dolphin class diesel-electric submarines with SLCMs. Israel has consistently denied these reports, and the reliability of many of them is uncertain.

9) North Korea

IMAGE: There has been considerable speculation that North Korea is seeking to build nuclear weapons using spent fissile material in order to overcome the constraints imposed by its limited stock of weapon-grade plutonium. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Estimated warheads: 10

Deployed warheads: N/A

First test: 2006

North Korea maintains an active but highly opaque nuclear weapon programme.

It is estimated that North Korea may have built up to 10 nuclear warheads, although there is no open-source evidence that it has produced or deployed operational weapons. The estimate is based primarily on calculations of the amount of plutonium that may have been produced by the graphite-moderated reactor located at the Yongbyon nuclear centre. 

The table below presents the status quo of warheads, both active and reserve, that are at the disposal of the nuclear nations.

CountryYear of first nuclear testDeployed warheads*Other warheadsTotal 2016
USA 1945 1,930 5,070 7,000
Russia 1949 1,790 5,500 7,290
UK 1952 120 95 215
France 1960 280 20 300
China 1964   260 260
India 1974   100-120 100-120
Pakistan 1998   110-130 110-130
Israel     80 80
North Korea 2006   10 10
Total   4,120 11,275 15,395

* Deployed means that the warheads is placed on missiles or located at bases with operational forces.

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