How Many Countries Possess Nuclear Weapons?

How many countries possess nuclear weapons? We’ve been answering that very question in a two-part series on the What In the World podcast. You can check out part two right here, in fact:

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

We broke them up into two episodes because, in real life, the various nuclear states are split into two groups.

First, there are the legally recognized nuclear states: United States, Russia, France, China, England.

Second, the rogue states: India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea.

We covered the five legally recognized nuclear states in the first of these two podcasts. If you want to hear it, sign up at our Patreon page.

No matter what episode you’re listening to, you should totally follow along with the notes and links we’re about to post right now. Here goes!

The Five Legally Recognized Nuclear States


United States



  • 260 nuclear weapons
  • Nuclear program started in response to US and Soviet programs
  • Only of the five recognized nuclear states with a strict “no first use” policy


The Four Non-Recognized Nuclear States


  • 130 nuclear weapons
  • Program dates back to the 1950s and the earliest days of conflict with India
  • Developed with help from infamous nuclear scientist AQ Khan



  • 80 nuclear weapons
  • Allegedly started production of warheads immediately after end of Six Day War
  • Has never officially confirmed nor denied possessing nuclear weapons

North Korea

To hear ‘What In the World’ and the rest of Unpops Network shows completely ad-free every single week, sign up on our Patreon page. For a limited time only you can get all of our podcasts for just $5 per month!