Since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was opened
for signature on July 1, 1968, a total of 187 countries have joined, including
the five acknowledged nuclear-weapons states—the United States, Russia, the
United Kingdom, France, and China. The only countries that have not become
parties of the NPT are Cuba, India, Israel, and Pakistan.
The NPT obligates the five signatory nuclear-weapons countries not to transfer
nuclear weapons, other nuclear explosives devices, or their technology to any
non-nuclear-weapon state. By the same token, the non-nuclear-weapon parties
must not acquire or produce nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.
While there have been no confirmed violations of the NPT by any of its signed
members, experts believe some non-nuclear NPT countries, such as Iraq, may
have obtained nuclear technology or equipment from private parties in other
states. Iran, also a party to the NPT, may have been pursuing a secret nuclear
weapons program for the past 20 years.
The Cold War is over, but the ominous threat of nuclear war still remains
today. The post-Cold War era in which we now live holds different dangers that
are equally if not more threatening. Russia's missiles are aging and her early-warning
satellite system is flawed. Hundreds of tons of weapons-usable
nuclear materials currently stored in poorly secured warehouses all over Russia
could potentially fall into the wrong hands. Rogue factions, such as that or
those that perpetrated the horrific terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September
11, 2001, have expressed interest in acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological
weapons for use on civilians.
Use the map above to circle the globe in search of its nuclear arsenals and find
out exactly what nuclear weapons comprise the arsenals of the five acknowledged
weapons states and where they are kept. Find out, in addition, what weapons the
non-NPT countries have and where in the world nuclear weapons may be in the
process of secret development.
To see definitions of technical terms, click on the highlighted words or visit the
Note that maps and missile images in this feature are not drawn to
scale, and that to adhere to practice standard in the field of nuclear-weapons
technology, all measurements in this feature are given in metric.
To figure the equivalent in pounds, go to our metric conversion table.
Lexi Krock is editorial assistant of NOVA Online.
Maps and flags: Courtesy of the CIA World Factbook;
Missile Illustrations: Courtesy of Missile.index, http://www.index.ne.jp/missile_e/index.html