NUCLEAR WEAPONS STATES
An Indian Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile displayed at the Republic Day Parade 2004. (Photo: AntÃ´nio Milena/ABr)
India has never been a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It tested a "peaceful nuclear device", as it was described by the Indian government, in 1974 ("Smiling Buddha"), the first test developed after the creation of the NPT, and created new questions about how civilian nuclear technology could be diverted secretly to weapons purposes (dual-use technology). It appears to have been primarily motivated as a deterrent against China. It tested weaponized nuclear warheads in 1998 ("Operation Shakti"), including a thermonuclear device (though whether the latter was fully successful is a matter of some contention). In July 2005, it was officially recognized by the United States as a "a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology" and agreed to full nuclear cooperation between the two nations. This is seen as a tacit entry into the nuclear club of the above nations. In March 2006, a civil nuclear cooperation deal was signed between President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This deal, ratified by United States Congress and United States Senate in December 2006 would pave the path for the United States and other members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to sell civilian nuclear technology to India. The country is currently thought to have had a stockpile of around 40-50 warheads.
Pakistan is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan covertly developed nuclear weapons over many decades, beginning in the late 1970s. Pakistan first delved into nuclear power after the establishment of its first nuclear power plant near Karachi with equipment and materials supplied mainly by western nations in the early 1970s. After the detonation of a nuclear bomb by India, the country started its own nuclear weapons development program and established secret, mostly underground, nuclear facilities near the capital Islamabad. It is believed that Pakistan already had nuclear weapons capability by the end of the 1980s. However, this was to remain speculative until 1998 when Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests at the Chagai Hills, in reply to the Nuclear tests conducted by India a few days before.
North Korea was a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but announced a withdrawal on January 10, 2003 and did so that April. In February 2005 they claimed to possess functional nuclear weapons, though their lack of a test at the time led many experts to doubt the claim. However, in October 2006, North Korea stated that due to growing intimidation by the USA, it would conduct a nuclear test to confirm its nuclear status. North Korea reported a successful nuclear test on October 9, 2006. Most U.S. intelligence officials believe that North Korea did, in fact, test a nuclear device due to radioactive isotopes detected by U.S. aircraft; however, most agree that the test was probably only partially successful, having less than a kiloton in yield.
On October 5, 1986, the British newspaper The Sunday Times ran Mordechai Vanunu's story on its front page under the headline: "Revealed the secrets of Israel's nuclear arsenal.
Israel - Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to officially confirm or deny having a nuclear arsenal, or to having developed nuclear weapons, or even to having a nuclear weapons program. Although Israel claims that the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona is a "research reactor," no scientific reports based on work done there have ever been published. Extensive information about the program in Dimona was also disclosed by technician Mordechai Vanunu in 1986. Imagery analysts can identify weapon bunkers, mobile missile launchers, and launch sites in satellite photographs. It is believed to possess nuclear weapons by the International Atomic Energy Agency, though unlike Iran, has never been referred to the United Nations Security Council. Israel is suspected to have tested a nuclear weapon along with South Africa in 1979, but this has never been confirmed. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists, Israel possesses around 75-200 weapons.
Nazi Germany - During World War II, Nazi Germany researched possibilities to develop a nuclear weapon; however, for multiple reasons subject to some controversy, the project was not nearing completion at the end of the war. The research site was sabotaged by British spies and Norwegian partisans, which slowed down their research. Historian Rainer Karlsch, in his 2005 book Hitlers Bombe, has suggested that the Nazis may have tested some sort of "atom bomb" in Thuringia in the last year of the war; it may have been a radiological weapon (rather than a fission weapon), though little reliable evidence of this has surfaced. Some of the German scientists involved also claimed to have sabotaged or falsely reported failures due to personal moral disagreement with Nuclear bomb development.
Germany - While Germany is a signatory of the NPT, it has the means to equip itself rapidly with nuclear weapons. It has an advanced nuclear industry capable of manufacturing reactors, enriching uranium, fuel fabrication, and fuel reprocessing and it operates 19 power reactors producing one third of its total electrical needs. On the other hand, Germany has since 1945 made no serious attempts of acquiring or developing its own strategic delivery systems. Considerable numbers of nuclear weapons have been stationed both in East and West Germany during the Cold War, starting as early as 1955. Under the nuclear sharing scheme, West German soldiers would in theory have been authorized to use nuclear weapons provided by the US in event of a massive Warsaw Pact attack. Several dozen such weapons reputedly remain on bases in western Germany. Since 1998, Germany has adopted a policy of eliminating nuclear power, although slow progress had been made. On January 26, 2006, the former defence minister, Rupert Scholz, said that Germany may need to build its own nuclear weapons to counter terrorist threats. The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany also specified that Germany wouldn't acquire nuclear weapons.
Japan - Japan makes extensive use of nuclear energy in nuclear reactors, generating a significant percentage of the electricity in Japan. Japan has the third largest nuclear energy production after the U.S. and France, and plans to produce over 40% of its electricity using nuclear power by 2010. Significant amounts of plutonium are created as a by-product of the energy production, and Japan had 4.7 tons of plutonium in December 1995. Japan also has its own centrifuge-based uranium enrichment program, which could also be used to create highly enriched uranium suitable for bombs. Experts believe Japan has the technology, raw materials, and the capital to produce nuclear weapons within one year if necessary, and some analysts consider it a "de facto" nuclear state for this reason. Japan has been quietly reconsidering its nuclear status because of the ongoing crisis over North Korean nuclear weapons.