Which countries have nuclear weapons?

At present there are 9 countries in the world that possess nuclear weapons. They are:

  • Russia
  • United States
  • China
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Israel
  • North Korea

These states have roughly 12,100 nuclear warheads, with over 9,500 in active military stockpiles, according to the Federation of Atomic Scientists' 2024 State of the Worlds Nuclear Forces. While this is a significant decline from the approximately 70,000 warheads owned by the nuclear-armed states during the Cold War, nuclear arsenals are expected to grow over the coming decade and today’s forces are vastly more capable.


Who has the most nuclear weapons?

Russia has the most confirmed nuclear weapons, with over 5,500 nuclear warheads. The United States follows behind with 5,044 nuclear weapons, hosted in the US and 5 other nations: Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Total nuclear warheads owned by these 2 countries alone counts for nearly 90% of nuclear weapons in the world.

Total number of warheads for North Korea and Israel is unconfirmed. However, it has been estimated that North Korea has enough fissile material to develop between 40-50 individual weapons, whilst Israel has material for up to 200, with an estimated 90 existing warheads.


What does these countries having nuclear weapons mean?

A single nuclear warhead could kill hundreds of thousands of people, with lasting and devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences. Detonating just 1 nuclear weapon alone over New York would cause an estimated 583,160 fatalities.

Combined, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea possess over 12,000 nuclear weapons, most of which are many times more powerful than the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima. Thirty-two other states are also part of the problem, with 6 nations hosting nuclear weapons, and a further 28 endorsing their use.


Tactical nuclear weapons

A tactical nuclear weapon is any weapon that’s not been classified as “strategic” under US- Russian arms control agreements. The Federation of American Scientists currently estimates Russian non-strategic nuclear warheads at 1,912, and approximately 100 U.S. non-strategic warheads deployed in five European countries.  While these are often framed as “smaller” or “low yield” nuclear weapons,  and it’s implied that they would cause less damage, these warheads can have explosive yields up to 300 kilotons, or 20 times that of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. 



umbrella-state.svg The 9 nuclear-armed states:

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umbrella-state.svg The six states hosting another country's nuclear weapons: 

Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey all host U.S. nuclear weapons. The United States insists that it maintains operational control of these weapons but their stationing in these countries helps U.S. nuclear war planning. In 2023, the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, announced that his country had started taking delivery of Russian tactical nuclear weapons.

supports.svg The 28 Other Nuclear Endorsers

Twenty-eight countries (plus the six hosts) also "endorse" the possession and use of nuclear weapons by allowing the potential use of nuclear weapons on their behalf as past of defence alliances, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

All thirty-four countries that endorse nuclear weapon usage are:


Albania, Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, FinlandGermany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, North MacedoniaNorway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Turkey