The history of Iranian nuclear program dates back to 1953, when “Atoms for Peace” program of United States was initiated in the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, its nuclear program was verified by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. Iran has been always criticized by the IAEA for manipulating data and hiding the facts of their ongoing nuclear development programs. However, the construction of Iran’s first nuclear power plant, Bushehr reactor, was started in 1975 but due to extreme political pressure from the West, it took a long time and was finally launched on August 21, 2010. Iran was significantly assisted by Germany and Russia in constructing this reactor. Determined for constructing more nuclear power plants in coming future, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran, has clearly stated that nuclear energy must not be compared to a nuclear bomb.
9. North Korea:
Widely supported by Soviet Union, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has no known nuclear reactors till the date but it has a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons. The first nuclear test by North Korea was conducted on October 9, 2006, which generated an earthquake with estimated magnitude of 4.3 in North Korea. This earthquake was detected by Japanese seismological authorities as well as by United States Geological Survey. Initially, there were two operating reactors in North Korea but due to political pressure from the United Nation Security Council, both of them were dismantled. According to U.S. officials, North Korea was significantly supported by Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistani nuclear scientist, for the enhancement of its nuclear technology. After denying the intrusive verification measures during the “six-party talks”, North Korea reactivated its nuclear programs and performed the second nuclear test on May 25, 2009, much more powerful than the previous one.
On January 20, 1972, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, contemporary Prime Minister of Pakistan, rallied some top-notch engineers and senior academic scientists in Multan to develop nuclear weapons for their nation. However, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commision (PAEC) was grounded in early 1956 but it came in its utmost action to respond ‘Smiling Buddha’, India’s nuclear test of 1974. Inspired from the Manhattan Project of the United States, Project-706 was initiated under the guidance of renowned nuclear scientist Munir Ahmad Khan. Prior to this project, Munir Ahmad Khan was working as as Director at the Nuclear Power and Reactor Division of International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Eventually, on May 28, 1998, Pakistan tested five nuclear devices in the Chagai Hills of Balochistan. In current scenario, there are three commercial nuclear power plants in Pakistan but the profiles of academic scientists involved in the development of nuclear weapons are kept highly confidential and absolutely isolated from the public. This nuclear power of the world is better known for its extreme secrecy.
One of the deadliest nuclear powers of the world, India has six nuclear power plants and also ranks number one in the development of thorium based fast breeder reactors. However, it is opponent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention as well as the Biological Weapons Convention. Strict follower of the no-first-use policy, India became sensation in the world of nuke technology by carrying out its much anticipated mission — Operation Shakti. During this mission, three nuclear devices were successfully tested on May 11 and two on May 13, 1998 at the Pokhran test range. Till the date, India has not officially stated about the stockpile of its nuclear arsenal but according to the Federation of American Scientists, it has an estimated backlog of 75-110 nuclear weapons. Despite of being a non-signatory to the NPT, India is involved in nuclear commerce with the rest of the world.
“What Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Teller, the three of them are Jews, made for the United States, could also be done by scientists in Israel, for their own people”. This obsessive statement was made by David Ben Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, to occupy the nuclear weapons for preventing the reoccurrence of The Holocaust. In 1952, HEMAD GIMMEL, a unit of the Israel Defense Forces Science Corps was converted in the chief laboratory of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. This unit was widely supported by the nuclear scientists of France. However, Israel has repeatedly admitted for not constituting nuclear weapons but according to intelligence agencies across the world, there are at least 75-400 nuclear warheads with the power to deliver them by submarine, aircraft and intermediate-range ballistic missile. The extremely confidential trial of nuclear weapons in Israel are theorized to carry out zero yeild in nature but on September 22, 1979, a flash resembling a nuclear explosion was reported in the southern Indian Ocean by Vela, a U.S. satellite to detect nuclear tests.
Top-notch of the international nuclear security matters and the legendary head in the ring weapon’s stockpile, the United Kingdom has conducted 45 nuclear tests till the date. The genesis of nuclear weapons in United Kingdom dates back to the World War II, when British scientists started their work on developing the atomic bomb under the code name of “Tube Alloys”. The first test of atomic device, Operation Hurricane, was conducted on October 3, 1952 in the Monte Bello Islands. Combat ship, “HMS Plym” was used as the explosion platform to detonate 25 kiloton atom bombs. The last test, Julin Bristol was conducted on November 29, 1991, at the Nevada Test Site, collaborated by the United States. The ‘special relationship’ of United Kingdom and United States has postulated the switch-over of classified technological information.
The development of nuclear weapons in France was initiated in the regime of Charles de Gaulle. With the stockpile of at least 300 operational nuclear warheads, this country is considered as the great abode of weapons of mass destruction. The first nuclear test, Gerboise bleue, was conducted during the Algerian War in French Sahara on February 13, 1960. Between 1960 and 1996, total 210 nuclear tests were performed. 17 of them were conducted in Algerian Sahara whereas remaining 193 were conducted in French Polynesia. During the “Beryl” test on May 1, 1962, a fatal accident occured due to the improper sealing of the shaft. Approximately, four times more powerful than the bomb used in Hiroshima, this explosive penetrated the shaft and released radioactive dust and rock in the atmosphere. In this awful incident, nine soldiers along with high political figures were severely contaminated by the radiation.
Because of extreme secrecy, it is almost a wild-goose-chase to specify the exact size of China’s nuclear warheads. Initially, China was majorly supported by Soviet Union but after the termination of this collaboration, China pulled itself to continue the development of nuclear weapons. In the era of late 50s and early 60s, China remarkably followed the route to heighten its international power and also to burst the dominance of superpowers of nuclear technology. October 16, 1964, witnessed the first test of China’s nuclear device at the Lop Lake site, located between the deserts of Kuruktag and Taklamakan. Before ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT) on September 24, 1996, China conducted its last test of nuclear device on July 29, 1996. However, there is considerable uncertainty about its arsenal of nuclear weapons but according to a report of the Defense Intelligence Agency of United States, China constitutes at least 140-160 nuclear weapons.
The nuclear program of Soviet Union was started during the World War II, with the crystal-clear approach to confront the rapidly raising Manhattan Project of the United States. Under the guidance of renowned physicist, Igor Vasilievich Kurchatov, Soviet Union conducted its first successful nuclear test First Lightning on August 29, 1949. It is said that Soviet military intelligence, GRU, has played a significant role in obtaining the confidential and technical aspects of US nuclear programs. According to a report of the Federation of American Scientists, the number of nuclear warheads in Russia is far greater than the stockpile of United States. After ratifying the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) in 2002, Russia and the United States agreed to cut down their stocks to not more than 2200 nuclear warheads.
Inexorably advanced and the great granddaddy of nuclear technology, America works as an essential pillar for international security with large scale of strategic calculations. The nuclear arena of United States was fathered in the presidentship of Franklin Roosevelt with the cover name Manhattan Project. This project was a joint venture of America, Canada and United Kingdom, channelized by General Leslie Groves. “Trinity” was the first nuclear test, conducted on July 16, 1945, in the Jornada del Muerto desert, near New Mexico. From that day till September 23, 1992, United States was widely involved in robust nuclear testing. By all accounts, total 1,054 nuclear tests along with two attacks (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) were performed during this time span. After signing the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, America halted its atmospheric tests to prevent the diffusion of nuclear fallout and commenced the underground tests.