Russia: Nuclear strike would turn Germany into a wasteland
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While the weapons haven’t played an active part in a conflict since World War 2, the threat has persisted for generations. The Cold War – another terrifying chapter of the 20th century – saw the US and Russia hold the world on the precipice of disaster between 1947 and 1991 as they furiously built nuclear arsenals. Data released by the Federation of American Scientists revealed that, while the conflict ended over 30 years ago, the 21st century is dealing with a nuclear hangover.
Which country has the most nuclear weapons?
The federation, which last updated its estimations on October 7, has identified eight nuclear-armed nations and one capable.
They have an estimated 13,182 warheads between them, 9,600 “earmarked for delivery”.
And most of the nuclear weapons are in the hands of the US and Russia.
The two superpowers possess approximately 90 percent of the world’s arsenal.
Of the 13,132 currently stockpiled, the east and western leaders have 11,857.
The total is weighted more heavily in Russia’s favour, as the country has 6,257.
The US has 657 fewer with its stockpile of 5,600, but still far more than the other nuclear-capable nations.
Russia, the UK, China, Pakistan, India and North Korea are actively adding warheads.
The US, France and Israel are not, with stable stockpiles.
North Korea’s place on the list is theoretical only, with estimations of potential warhead numbers made from its fissile material.
Although they don’t share the same attitudes towards expanding their arsenals, more than half of the nuclear-armed countries on this list have recently agreed never to use them.
On January 3, leaders of the “five nuclear-weapon states” issued a joint statement on the use of warheads.
Leaders from China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US made three key pledges.
They first agreed a nuclear war “cannot be won and must never be fought”, so weapons should “serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war”.
They concluded they must prevent “further spread of such weapons”.
What time is it on the Doomsday Clock?
The recent statement from the five nations was promising for international relations, and was hailed by an official within the US state department as “noteworthy”, given current tensions.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists summarises global tensions with the Doomsday Clock, a theoretical device specifying the planet’s proximity to nuclear annihilation using a “minutes to midnight” as a measurement.
At present, the clock’s hand is the closest to midnight it has ever come in its 77-year history.
Scientists with the bulletin last updated the clock on January 20, 2021, when they moved it to 100 seconds to midnight.
The scientists concluded that, alongside other threats – such as online misinformation and the Covid pandemic – nuclear programmes still posed an existential threat.
They said accelerating nuclear programmes had “moved the world into less stable and manageable territory”, and that developing “hypersonic glide vehicles, ballistic missile defences, and weapons-delivery systems” paved the way for “flexible” use of nuclear warheads “in times of tension”.
The bulletin’s 2022 announcement, due on January 20, 2022, will see if the recent commitment from nuclear nations is likely to bear fruit.
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