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PORTSIDE  August 2010, Week 2

PORTSIDE August 2010, Week 2

Subject:

Where Are All the Nuclear Weapons Located in the World?

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Date:

Fri, 13 Aug 2010 21:52:25 -0400

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[Go so source url for a world map of nuclear weapons by
country. -- moderator]

Where Are All the Nuclear Weapons Located in the World?

By Ed Grabianowski, 
Aug 12, 2010 01:18 PM
http://m.io9.com/5611368/where-are-all-the-nuclear-weapons-located-in-the-world

It's been 65 years since a nuclear weapon was used in
war. Yet the Doomsday Clock still stands at six minutes
to midnight, and there are more than 20,000 nuclear
warheads in the world. Here's where they are.

The exact status of the world's nuclear weapon supply
is only known through educated guesswork and occasional
information leaks. Nations with nuclear weapons hold
their locations and attributes close to the vest at
best (the U.S., Britain) or cloak them almost
completely in utter secrecy (North Korea, Israel).

___Where most of the weapons are: US and Russia

But there are several organizations that analyze and
track nuclear weapons, the most prominent being the
Federation of American Scientists and the Center for
Defense Information. Despite their best efforts, our
knowledge of global nuclear stockpiles is alarmingly
similar to this Onion article ("World's Nuclear Arsenal
'Pretty Much' Accounted For"
(http://www.theonion.com/articles/report-worlds-nuclear-arsenal-pretty-much-accounte,728/), 
an odd bit of satire that is almost completely
accurate.

Two nations have more nuclear weapons than all other
nations combined: the U.S. and Russia. If you subscribe
to George Carlin's "Bigger Dick Foreign Policy Theory,"
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDkhzHQO7jY)
you can infer that these are the two most insecure
nations in the world, with roughly 10,000 nuclear
weapons each, several thousand of them operational.
Using the weapons stores from these two nations alone,
we can still obliterate all life on Earth several times
over without much effort.

____Who else has nukes, and who will get them soon?

The chief treaty limiting nuclear weapons is the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, first drafted in
1970. While 189 nations have signed the treaty, only
five of them are known nuclear states: the U.S.,
Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. The UK,
France and China are thought to have a few hundred
operational weapons each. The treaty forbids giving
nukes to nations that don't have them or helping them
develop their own. It also encourages disarmament and
allows for the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The
good news is both the U.S. and Russia have dismantled
thousands of nuclear weapons since the 1990s, thanks in
part to the treaty. There's still plenty of bad news
though.

There are quite a few nations with nuclear weapons that
aren't part of the treaty. India and Pakistan are known
to have nuclear weapons, each holding a few dozen.
Israel steadfastly refuses to confirm or deny that they
have nukes, but analysts are certain they do, and
estimate they hold as many as 200 of them. North Korea,
once a signatory to the treaty, withdrew from it and
has conducted two nuclear tests. However, it is
believed they have fewer than 10 warheads and no
operational method of delivering them.

____Who hosts their nukes in foreign countries?

Many other nations have had access to nuclear weapons
in a variety of ways. The U.S. positioned nuclear
weapons in countries like Turkey, Belgium and Canada,
claiming this circumvented treaty restrictions because
the weapons remained under U.S. control. Former Soviet
republics Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine inherited
nuclear weapons when the Soviet Union collapsed (5,000
of them, in Ukraine's case). Since then, all of those
weapons have been dismantled or transferred to Russia.

____Does anybody ever go from being a nuclear power to 
    a non-nuclear power?

South Africa is an interesting case in that they
developed their own nuclear weapons, then signed the
treaty in the early 90s and completely dismantled their
entire nuclear arsenal. Meanwhile, Libya was found in
violation of the treaty and their secret nuclear
weapons program was investigated and shut down in 2003.
Iran's nuclear program has been suspected of being used
for weapons development and subject to sanctions by the
U.S., but the U.N. has taken the position that it is
better to keep Iran working within the framework of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty than to alienate the nation,
and declared their program to fall within the legal
bounds of the "right to peaceful nuclear research."

Unfortunately, the danger isn't restricted to the big
names in the "nuclear club." In the recent documentary
Countdown to Zero, director Lucy Walker reports that
dozens of nations now have access to nuclear fuel which
could potentially be weaponized, and there are verified
instances of smugglers trying to sell weapons grade
uranium to terrorists. Perhaps even worse, access to
nuclear launch codes is less restrictive than during
the Cold War, with lower-level officials having the
power to launch devastating nuclear attacks.

We've settled into complacency regarding the nuclear
nightmare. Walker wondered in a CBC interview, "Is it
just ignorance and a misunderstanding that they went
away? Is it exhaustion? Is it that we're worried about
climate change, and we can only think of one thing at a
time?"

The Doomsday clock is still ticking.

SOURCES:

Al Jazeera. "The World's Nuclear Stockpile."
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/04/20104735153263423.html

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
http://www.thebulletin.org/

CBC News, "Nuclear Weapons Doc Paints Scary Scenario."
http://www.cbc.ca/arts/film/story/2010/07/30/countdown-to-zero.html

Center for Defense Information. "Current World Nuclear
Arsenals."
http://www.cdi.org/nuclear/database/nukestab.html

Federation of American Scientists. "Status of World
Nuclear Forces."
http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html

Send an email to Ed Grabianowski, the author of this post, at [log in to unmask]

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