The post-Cold War world had already dropped nuclear weapons from sight and the public attention waned from it. However, the U.S. 2016 elections and the Trump administration invigorated the nuclear issue into the spotlight. Currently, nine states have a nuclear weapon in their arsenal. The U.K., U.S., France, Russia and China all signed a treaty of non-proliferation. The remaining four states were not part of the treaty.
Here are the four non-treaty states that own nuclear weapons:
India is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The country tested a ‘peaceful nuclear explosive’ known as Smiling Buddha in 1974. The test was the first one since the treaty came into being. India’s secrecy on developing nuclear weapons caused great concern from other nations.
Indian officials rejected the treaty during the 1960s. It argued that the treaty unnecessarily restricted ‘peaceful activity’ such as ‘peaceful nuclear explosives’. India would not concede to the demands of international control of their nuclear programs. The country will only participate with the treaty if all countries engaged in a unilateral disarmament of their own nuclear weapons. Indian authorities asserted that the treaty is a neo-colonial regime which denied security. India maintained its stance that its nuclear capability remains peaceful. However, in 1998, India tested ‘weaponized’ nuclear warheads called Operation Shakti.
North Korea was a former member of the treaty. The regime announced its withdrawal on January 10, 2003. The withdrawal came after the U.S. accused it of having a secret uranium enrichment program. The U.S. cut off energy assistance under the Agreed Framework of 1994. In 2005, North Korea announced that they possessed functional nuclear weapons. In October 2006, the regime stated that they will conduct a test due to the growing intimidation from the U.S. North Korea had several successful nuclear tests. The current regime of Kim Jong Un stands as the greatest threat to a nuclear arms race due to the unpredictability of his regime.
Pakistan did not take part with the treaty. The country started the development of nuclear weapons during the ‘70s. Former Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ai Bhutto stated in 1971 that if India could build nuclear weapons, then his country will follow suit.
In 2004, Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani metallurgist, admitted that he headed to an international black market involved in selling nuclear weapons technology. Khan had been selling gas centrifuge to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
Undisclosed Nuclear State
Israel is believed to possess nuclear weapons but the country has not acknowledged its nuclear forces. The nation had nuclear weapons available as early as 1967. Israel did not sign the NPT. The country engaged in strategic ambiguity. Officials stated that they are the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the region but refuses to confirm or deny a nuclear weapons program or arsenal. Israel’s action is interpreted as an attempt to get the benefits of the deterrence but at a minimal political cost.