Strategic Weapons: June 21, 2005


There are emerging and nascent nuclear powers in the world. This is how it has been since 1945, when the Soviet Union stole the secrets to the atomic bomb to gain parity with the United States. For the past sixty years, countries have schemed and scrambled to become nuclear powers. The genie is out of the bottle, to an extent, and getting it back in is extremely unlikely. Four countries (India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan) have small, but growing nuclear arsenals these are the emerging nuclear powers. Several other countries, most notably Iran and Brazil, can best be described as nascent nuclear powers.

India is one of the larger emerging nuclear powers. It has a large force of missiles (75 Prithvi, each with a range of up to 250 kilometers, and 20 Agni, each with a range of 2,000 kilometers). India also has been known to have detonated several nuclear weapons in 1998. Their arsenal is generally cited in the range of 60 to 80 warheads, but it could be as high as 200. In addition to the missile arsenal, India could use aircraft like the Jaguar and MiG-27, to deliver a nuclear strike. India could also use submarines to fire cruise missiles, and has fired the Prithvi from underwater, indicating that an effort to

Israel is arguably the emerging power with the largest nuclear arsenal, although, they have not officially declared a nuclear arsenal. This arsenal is estimated to have as few as 80 to as many as 300 nuclear weapons. Some are on Jericho ballistic missiles (50 Jericho 1, with a 500-kilometer range and 50 Jericho 2, with a range of 1500 to 4000 kilometers), others are reportedly on 12 Popeye Turbo cruise missiles (with a range of 200 to 1500 kilometers) launched from Dolphin-class submarines. The balance are gravity bombs used from Israeli aircraft like the F-16, F-15I, F-4, and A-4. The Israeli nuclear arsenal is probably on par with that of France in terms of quantity, and larger than the United Kingdom, but details are kept very quiet, and Israel has not publicly declared itself to be in possession of nuclear weapons.

Pakistan developed nuclear weapons in response to Indias program. This is a much more limited program, due to efforts by the United States to keep it in check. Pakistans 1998 nuclear tests brought sanctions, but the Pakistani program, led by the now-notorious Abdul Qadeer Khan, produced about 30 weapons. Pakistan is capable of adding four to eight weapons per year. Some are used on the Shaheen missiles (The Shaheen is a copy of the Chinese M-11, the Shaheen I is a copy of the M-9, and the Shaheen II is a copy of the Chinese M-18, with a 2,000 kilometer range) and the Ghauri III (a copy of the North Korean Nodong missile, with a 2,500-kilometer range). Pakistans F-16s could also be used to deliver gravity bombs.

North Korea is the last of the emerging nuclear powers. It has a small arsenal, anywhere from 13 to 20 weapons. It also has a large missile arsenal (100 Nodong missiles, with a 1,300 kilometer range; 10 Nodong-B missiles, with a range of 2,750 to 4,000 kilometers, and 5 Taepo Dong 2 missiles, with a range of 13,500 miles), but its nuclear weapons seem limited to gravity bombs from aircraft.

Two other countries are trying to join this club of emerging nuclear powers. Brazil has been pursuing some sort of nuclear weapons program since 1975, and suspicions have been heightened due to public statements by President Lula da Silva criticizing the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refusals to cooperate with the IAEA on some inspections.

Iran is the other, and more notable nascent power. It is also one of concern, due to its sponsorship of Hezbollah. Irans arrival to the nuclear weapons club is estimated to be sometime in 2005, but the ability is said to be almost definite by 2010. These efforts are centered around Bushehr.

Two other countries are worth noting as a dormant nuclear power. South Africa had six nuclear weapons in the 1980s, delivered from aircraft (the Buccaneer or Cheetah). They were dismantled in 1991, and South Africa is now declaring no nuclear ambitions. This is the only time that any nation has voluntarily given up nuclear weapons. Libya also has given up a nuclear weapons program, after spending as much as $140 million, including $100 million in payments to Pakistani scientists, although this was done while the United States was preparing to liberate Iraq. Qaddafi decided that surrendering his nuclear weapons program was the safest course of action. Harold C. Hutchison (


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