Nuclear weapons are the most inhuman weapon ever created. Twice nuclear weapons have been used in war, against the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II in 1945. In addition to that, over 2,000 nuclear weapons tests have taken place. Even today, hospitals in Hiroshima treat and document new illnesses in survivors. And their children.
How many nuclear weapons are there in the world?
It is not possible to say exactly how many nuclear weapons there are in the world. According to the Federation of American Scientists, FAS, there are approximately 12,700 nuclear weapons in the world. The US and Russia own about 90 percent of them. About 2,000 of these nuclear weapons are ready to be launched within a few minutes, they are on so-called “high alert” and are placed in France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.
Russia: 5,977 nuclear weapons
United States: 5,428 nuclear weapons
China: 350 nuclear weapons
France: 290 nuclear weapons
United Kingdom: 225 nuclear weapons
India: 160 nuclear weapons
Pakistan: 165 nuclear weapons
Israel: 90 nuclear weapons
North Korea: 20 nuclear weapons
For more information: FAS.org
Laws and regulations
Nuclear weapons are the last weapons of mass destruction to be banned by an international agreement, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, TPNW, was adopted in 2017 and entered into force in January 2021.
There are also two other international agreements that are referred to, the first is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, which regulates issues about nuclear proliferation and disarmament. The NPT entered into force in 1970 and the five states that had nuclear weapons prior to the entry into force of the NPT are called “official nuclear weapon states”, they have pledged to disarm their nuclear weapons in exchange for no other states acquiring nuclear weapons.
The second agreement is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, CTBT, which regulates issues surrounding test explosion of nuclear weapons. The CTBT has still not entered into force.
Did you know that:
- International humanitarian law prohibits weapons that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering. Nuclear weapons can kill hundreds of thousands of people in 10 seconds.
- 2,000 nuclear weapons are ready to be launched within minutes. Their explosive power corresponds to approximately 50,000 Hiroshima bombs.
- Even today, hospitals in Hiroshima treat people with radiation sickness and document new illnesses in survivors. And their children.
- If the world’s largest nuclear weapon were detonated over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, lightning would be seen in Berlin and windows would rattle in London.
- Nuclear weapons have been detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And over 2000 times more.
- The UN’s annual budget for disarmament is 10 million dollars. That’s what the nuclear states spend every hour on modernizing their nuclear weapons.
- Only the president has the right to launch US nuclear weapons. Ronald Reagan dropped the code on the floor. Bill Clinton forgot it in a meeting. Gerald Ford forgot it on the flight. Jimmy Carter dropped it off at the dry cleaners.
- Until 1977, the secret password for launching US nuclear weapons was: 00000000.
Sources and more information
Reagan lost nuclear code card during shooting, UPI Archives, December 1981
Jimmy Carter once sent launch codes to the cleaner, and other scary tales of the ‘nuclear football’, Allen McDuffee, November 2017
“00000000”, Bruce Blair, March 2015, Science and Global Security, Princeton University
How we are funded, United Nations Peacekeeping
Nuclear Testing 1945 – Today, CTBTO
Hiroshima & Nagasaki – 70 years on, survivors and their families still gravely affected, International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC