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289 Nuclear Weapons


This is a map of the proportion of worldwide strategic nuclear weapons that are suspected to be controlled by a territory. This can only be ‘suspected’ because there is much uncertainty and secrecy surrounding nuclear weapons. Strategic nuclear weapons are “Nuclear weapons intended to be used against counter-force targets (an opponent's nuclear weapons) or counter-value targets (an opponent's non-combatant population). While the phrase ‘strategic nuclear weapons’ is often used to describe nuclear warheads attached to intercontinental delivery vehicles (missiles or aircraft), such usage is technically incorrect, as strategic targets can be nearby the state with the weapon in question.” (This quote was taken from the data source given below).

Strategic nuclear weapons are differentiated from tactical nuclear weapons, by the data source. Tactical nuclear weapons (also called non-strategic or sub-strategic nuclear weapons) and are defined as “Nuclear weapons intended to be used on the battlefield against conventional targets. In other words, non-strategic targets. In general, no universal definition exists. In other contexts, the phrase ‘tactical nuclear weapons’ is often used to refer to lower yield nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons that travel distances less than what is needed to attack another continent. What defines tactical nuclear weapons in a true sense, however, is not how far they can travel or how powerful their explosive potential is, but how they are used.” These definitions were sourced from the website below, which in turn sourced the definition from the United States Defense Department.

This map shows the suspected strategic nuclear weapons estimated to be located in China , France , India , Israel , Pakistan , Russia , United Kingdom and the United States . Note that there are territories other than the eight listed here, where people have been suspected of having access to a small number of nuclear weapons.

Data sources

These data were sourced from the Centre for Defense Information, 1779 Massachusetts Ave, NW , Washington , DC 20036-2109 . The data were accessed in October 2006, from the website below:

Data for the United States and Russia is reported as being higher by the alternative data source below (this alternative data was not used, but a link is given to exemplify the variations in estimates of nuclear weaponry):

Click here to view detailed data source references

The quotation used to accompany this map was sourced from Takashi Hiraoka, who was Mayor of Hiroshima at the time of the quotation. These words come from the Hiroshima Peace Declaration, on 6 th August, 1995 . A longer version of the quotation than was included with the map reads: “Nuclear weapons are clearly inhumane weapons in obvious violation of international law. So long as such weapons exist, it is inevitable that the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be repeated -- somewhere, sometime -- in an unforgivable affront to humanity itself.” This quotation was sourced from the website below, in December 2006:

More info on the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty was available at the links below, in December 2006:

Excel sheets

Below is an explanation of each of the columns in the excel file:

Column A = Unique numerical territory (see 001).

Column B = Region and territory names (see 001).

Column C = Region code (see 001).

Column D = The ISO 3 code, or ISO ALPHA-3 (see 001).

Column E = Suspected strategic nuclear weapons, in 2002. This is taken from the source data.

Column F = Suspected strategic nuclear weapons in 2002, per million people. This is calculated by dividing the suspected strategic nuclear weapons, in 2002 (Column E) by the population in 2002 (Column G). (F = E / G).

Column G = Population in millions, for year 2002. For source data and derived estimates see 002, ‘Total Population’.