If you ever wondered which 9 countries with nukes are and does Turkey have nuclear weapons, you’ve come to the right place. Every time a new superior weapon has been introduced on the battlefields in our history, it has dramatically changed the world, starting with spears and swords to gunpowder and tanks. But never has the change been as thorough as it was with the invention of nuclear weapons, and not just in warfare, as it can be seen on our list of countries that produce the most nuclear power.
After the United States demonstrated nuke’s destructive power over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, it became clear to other world powers that in order to retain its status, they need to develop nuclear weapons of their own. The nuclear race marked the beginning of the Cold War and soon countries around the world were deeply involved in nuclear research and testing and the nuclear club grew in numbers.
One question that was on everyone’s mind during the 2016 failed coup was does Turkey have nuclear weapons. Technically, it does, in a sense that there are between 50 and 90 B61 tactical nuclear bombs stored in within the secure vaults of Incirlik Air Base, currently used by the NATO members for strikes against ISIS. Theoretically, at least part of that arsenal (up to 40, according to Hans M. Kristensen) is reserved for the use of Turkish Air Force, with prior approval by NATO and the United States, although that is prevented by Turkish lack of aircraft capable of launching B61 (they also prevent US Air Force from permanently basing such aircraft on Turkish soil), not to mention political backlash that would arise from such unilateral breach of NATO procedures.
Turkey isn’t the only NATO member hosting US nuclear weapons. Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Netherlands all have similar agreements with the United States. While in the height of the Cold War and the ever-present danger of Soviet tank armies rolling over Western Europe in a matter of weeks, if not days, it may have been prudent to have a cache of tactical nukes on hand in proximity to the frontline, today the whole thing makes no sense. The decision to keep nukes in Turkey has been particularly criticized. The proximity of Syria and frontlines against ISIS makes it possible – however remotely, due to heavy security – that a terrorist force may get its hands on the nuclear weapons. The other point of concern is Turkish internal instability. During the coup attempt, at one point, entire Incirlik Air Base was cut off from country’s electrical grid, forcing it to use generators in order to function. The Turkish commander of the base, General Bekir Ercan Van, was arrested, adding to concerns and numerous calls for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from the Turkish base. With Russia being more and more perceived as a threat by NATO European members that would be a tough decision to make.
But even if Turkey doesn’t have nuclear weapons, there are plenty of them laying around. These 9 countries with nukes have enough firepower to completely destroy life on the planet several times over. According to Federation of American Scientists, there are about 16,400 nuclear warheads in the world, with at least 4,200 of them operational and in the active state. The rest are in storage and kept in reserve. For each of the nine, we listed the number of nuclear warheads – in some cases suspected or estimated – and method of delivery, land (ICBMs), sea ( submarines), air (bombers) or much coveted nuclear triad, all three of them. While MAD may have stopped USA and USSR turning us all into ash, in today’s world of asymmetrical warfare and desperate people with guns who don’t care about retaliatory strikes, nukes don’t seem as much of a deterrent as they were.