As President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un engage in their war of words, the world is poised on the brink of Mutually Assured Destruction. Global nuclear weapons stockpiles — including both strategic warheads, lower-yield devices a.k.a: tactical battlefield weapons, and weapons awaiting dismantlement — are at their highest level ever. This, in spite of treaties and agreements that aim to reduce the potential for such cataclysm.
While the superpowers have made important strides in the long walk towards disarmament, there are numerous countries that fly below the radar of full disclosure. Some of these countries have opted-out of treaty efforts, and maintain secret nuclear programs and growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
Growth, reduction of global nuclear weapons inventories
The U.S. hope of maintaining a monopoly on nuclear weapons was wishful thinking, as the secrets of nuclear technology soon spread. Four years after the decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the nuclear race was in full swing between the major world powers — China, France, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and the United States.