Military > WMD > Overview: Countries Compared

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Author: Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Hi Marshall, info on Israel's possible WMD capability is not official, since Israel neither confirms nor denies it has either nuclear or non-nuclear missile capability. Follow the links given for more.
DEFINITION: An overview of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.
Argentina From the 1960s to the early 1990s, Argentina's nuclear program and missile activities aroused concern that the country was seeking to develop nuclear weapons and possibly aid other countries in developing and delivering them. Argentina has since eschewed nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons but retains an ambitious nuclear energy program. It dismantled its ballistic missile program in the early 1990s.
Azerbaijan No weapons of mass destruction or related delivery systems were located on the territory of Azerbaijan--a nation with a Turkic and majority-Muslim population--when it regained its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In spite of a long-standing conflict with neighboring Christian Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, Azerbaijan has not sought to develop WMD capabilities and is a signatory of a number of international accords, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).
Belarus Belarus has no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in its possession. As a signatory to a number of arms reduction treaties, Belarus transferred all of its Soviet-era nuclear warheads to Russia in the 1990s. It does not possess biological or chemical warfare programs. Though Belarus inherited no major production or design facilities from the Soviet Union, a number of firms continue cooperation with Russian missile/space enterprises.
Brazil Brazil has abjured nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and curtailed its ballistic missile program in the early 1990s. From the 1970s to the early 1990s, however, Brazil’s nuclear program aroused concern that the country was seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The international community—and Washington in particular—raised additional concerns that technology from Brazil’s space launch vehicle (SLV) program would be used for production of ballistic missiles. Brasilia is now a member of all key international nonproliferation regimes.
Cuba Fidel Castro spearheaded Cuba's communist revolution by leading a rebel army to victory in 1959. Relations between Washington and Havana deteriorated rapidly; the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba in October 1960 (which is still in effect today) and broke diplomatic relations in January 1961. Taking advantage of Cuba's fear of U.S. armed aggression against the island, the Soviets persuaded Cuba into adopting closer economic and political ties, including military and defense arrangements; later that year, Castro formally embraced Marxism. Tensions between the United States and Cuba peaked during the October 1962 missile crisis. Under Castro, Cuba became a highly militarized society. Massive Soviet military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities and expand its military presence abroad, spending millions of dollars in exporting revolutions, most visibly in Angola, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua. Cuba's support for these guerrilla movements, its Marxist-Leninist government, and its alignment with the USSR led to its isolation in the hemisphere. Cuba does not possess nuclear weapons, and there are no credible reports of Cuban efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. In 2002, Cuba acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), ratified the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco), and has an Additional Protocol with the IAEA. Cuba is not reported to possess chemical weapons (it acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] in 1993), nor are there credible reports of Cuban possession of long-range ballistic missiles. Cuba is generally regarded as having a program of research on biological warfare (BW) agents, though the scope and focus of this effort remains obscure and controversial. Numerous US administrations have claimed that Cuba possesses a limited offensive biological weapons program and has provided dual-use biotechnology to other nations—suspicions that stem from Cuba's possession of one of the most advanced biomedical industries in Latin America and its large-scale production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines. Cuba has been a member of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) since 1976. In 1990, Cuba's Air Force, with about 150 Soviet-supplied fighters, including advanced MiG-23 Floggers and MiG-29 Fulcrums, was probably the best equipped in Latin America. In 1994, Cuba's armed forces were estimated to have 235,000 active duty personnel. Cuban military power has been sharply reduced by the loss of Soviet subsidies. By 1999, the Revolutionary Armed Forces numbered about 60,000 regular troops.
Egypt A recipient of substantial U.S. military aid, Egypt does not appear to be aggressively pursuing nonconventional weapons capabilities at this time. Nonetheless, it is one of the few countries that has used chemical weapons in warfare (Yemen Civil War, 1963-1967) and is suspected of maintaining a chemical warfare (CW) capability, as well as a moderately advanced missile program. Cairo has been a leader in promoting a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East and the strongest critic of Israel's nuclear weapons program, linking its refusal to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to Israel's nonparticipation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Estonia Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, Estonia was home to major Soviet nuclear and military facilities. After it regained its freedom in 1991, Tallinn dismantled many of the Soviet-era facilities, and joined international treaties, regimes, and organizations, including both NATO and the European Union in the spring of 2004. Nonproliferation issues concerning Estonia stem primarily from the field of export controls.
Georgia Independent for three years (1918-1921) following the Russian revolution, Georgia was forcibly incorporated into the USSR until the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. As part of its Soviet legacy, Georgia possesses a decommissioned nuclear reactor and three nuclear research institutes, as well as a number of military bases contaminated with radioactive waste. Nonproliferation issues concerning Georgia stem primarily from the area of export controls. Georgia does not possess or produce nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, but the country's industrial and medical sectors use components that could also be used in WMD systems.
Japan Japan's 1947 constitution, which renounces the right to use force or the threat of force as a means of settling international disputes, sets important limits on Japanese security policy. Japan does not have any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, although it has the technical capability to produce basic nuclear weapons and missiles in a relatively short time. The Japanese government is highly active in the international nonproliferation and disarmament arena, and party to all relevant multilateral treaties and regimes. As the only country to have suffered a nuclear weapons attack, Japan has been especially active in the field of nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. Japan ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1976 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1997. Before 1945, Japan developed and employed both chemical and biological weapons. Japan is now a state party to both the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). Japan is also a member of the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and the Zangger Committee. Japan has an active nuclear energy program, one of the world's leading chemical industries, a growing biotechnology sector, and an active commercial space program.
Latvia Forcibly incorporated into the USSR in 1940, Latvia regained its independence in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Latvia has since joined relevant international treaties, regimes, and organizations, including both NATO and the European Union in the spring of 2004. Latvia does not possess or produce nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
Libya Libya has shown interest in and taken steps to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems. Indeed, it is one of the few states to have employed chemical weapons in a conflict (Chad, 1987). Libya's motivation to acquire WMD, and ballistic missiles in particular, appears in part to be a response to Israel's clandestine nuclear program and a desire to become a more active player in Middle Eastern and African politics. On 19 December 2003, Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qadhafi publicly confirmed his commitment to disclose and dismantle WMD programs in his country following a nine-month period of negotiations with U.S. and U.K. authorities.
Lithuania Independent between the two World Wars, Lithuania was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. On 11 March 1990, Lithuania became the first of the Soviet republics to declare its independence, a proclamation not recognized by Moscow until September 1991. Since 1991, Vilnius has joined international treaties, regimes, and organizations, including both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004. Lithuania does not possess or produce nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
Moldova Formerly part of Romania, Moldova was incorporated into the Soviet Union at the close of World War II. Moldova declared itself independent of the Soviet Union in May 1991. However, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River populated by ethnic Russians and Ukrainians in the self-proclaimed "Transnistria" republic. Moldova does not produce or possess nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons.
North Korea Since its origin in 1948, North Korea generally has maintained hostile relations with South Korea, Japan, and most Western countries. It has developed a capability to produce short- and medium-range missiles, chemical weapons, and possibly biological weapons. On 10 February 2005, a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry announced that North Korea had manufactured nuclear weapons. This announcement followed Pyongyang's January 2003 declaration that the country was withdrawing from the NPT. On 19 September 2005, the North Korean delegation to the Six-Party Talks in Beijing signed a "Statement of Principles" whereby Pyongyang agreed to abandon all nuclear programs and return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards. However, on the following day a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry declared that the United States would have to provide a light-water reactor to North Korea in order to resolve the lack of trust between the two countries. In October 2002, North Korea confirmed U.S. intelligence reports that it had a clandestine enriched uranium weapons program in violation of the Agreed Framework and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In December 2002, Pyongyang lifted the freeze on its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program and expelled IAEA inspectors who had been monitoring the freeze under the Agreed Framework of October 1994. North Korea’s pledge to suspend missile flight-testing until 2003 reduced tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the region, but it continues to export ballistic missiles and missile technology. In December 2002, Spanish and American naval forces intercepted a North Korean ship loaded with Scud missiles bound for Yemen; however, the shipment was allowed to proceed to its destination. North Korea conducted cruise missile tests in February and March 2003, but has not conducted a ballistic missile test since August 1998. North Korea possesses chemical weapons and is believed to have a biological weapons program even though Pyongyang has signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
Pakistan Pakistan embarked on a nuclear weapon program in the early 1970s after its defeat and break up in the Indo-Bangladesh war of 1971. Islamabad regards nuclear weapons as essential to safeguard the South Asian balance of power and offset its conventional inferiority and lack of strategic depth against India. The technological complexity associated with nuclear weapons and their systems of delivery is also closely tied to Pakistan's post-colonial identity as the first Muslim nation to have acquired such a capability. There is no reliable, publicly available information to suggest that Pakistan has biological or chemical weapons.
Russia The collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 left the Russian Federation with the bulk of the massive Soviet weapons of mass destruction complex. This legacy has allowed Russia to retain its great power status even as its economy has collapsed, but the burden of supporting this oversized complex has strained the Russian political and economic system. Russia's nuclear and missile capabilities presupposes its crucial role in arms control and nonproliferation, while the remnants of chemical and biological weapons programs pose major environmental and proliferation threats.
Serbia and Montenegro The Former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), now known as the Federation of Serbia and Montenegro, currently has no active nuclear weapons program, though it intermittently pursued both a nuclear energy and weapons program throughout the Tito regime. The FRY is known to have produced a variety of chemical weapons, with a majority of the stockpile inherited by the FRY. There were allegations of chemical weapons use in the former Yugoslavia during the wars of the 1990s. There is no evidence of a biological warfare program in the FRY or any of its successor states. The FRY has acquired and developed short-range tactical rockets, predominantly multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs), and cooperated with Iraq on the manufacture of rockets and other military projects before Desert Storm. The FRY extensively employs Soviet/Russian air-defense missile systems.
South Africa South Africa's nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile programs reflected perceptions of internal and external threats stemming from its former government's policy of apartheid, as well as the country's advanced state of technical development. Pretoria developed nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles but relinquished these armaments in the early 1990s. The apartheid government also undertook a chemical and biological weapons (CBW) defense program, which reportedly also included offensive research and use of CBW agents against opponents of that government. While the proliferation legacies of South Africa's nuclear and missile programs were effectively resolved through verified disarmament measures that won international acclaim, dismantlement of the country's CBW capabilities was not verified to a comparable degree of certainty. The post-apartheid government of South Africa implemented its nonproliferation and disarmament policy through the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act (No. 87 of 1993) to control the transfer of sensitive items and technologies. South Africa is the first and, to date, only country to build a nuclear arsenal, and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons program. The South African experience demonstrates that at least under some conditions, unilateral disarmament is not only possible, but can improve a nation’s security.
South Korea South Korea has maintained a bilateral security alliance with the United States since the Korean War (1950-1953). Nevertheless, South Korea has an active ballistic missile program and acknowledges the possession of chemical weapons (CW). Seoul abandoned its nuclear weapons program in the 1970s but has the technical capacity to produce nuclear, as well as biological, weapons. South Korea is a signatory to several nonproliferation treaties and has adopted a policy of a "nuclear-free Korean peninsula."
Taiwan Taiwan does not possess nuclear weapons, but began a covert nuclear weapons program in 1964 that ended in 1988 as a result of U.S. pressure. Taiwan signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and has implemented the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) "Program 93+2" safeguards. Despite persistent suspicions of offensive and defensive chemical and biological weapons (CBW) programs, there is no conclusive evidence that Taiwan has developed or deployed chemical or biological weapons. Taiwan is currently developing the Tien Chi, a short-range ballistic missile system that can reach the coast of China.
Tajikistan Tajikistan emerged from a devastating civil war (1992-1997) as one of the poorest countries in the region. The country's geographic location, porous borders, and a robust drug trade raise concerns about the potential for illegal transit of materials that could contribute to weapon of mass destruction programs. Tajikistan does not produce or possess nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons.
Ukraine Ukraine inherited a considerable number of nuclear warheads, missiles, and missile production facilities when the Soviet Union collapsed. In its first decade of independence, Ukraine transferred all nuclear warheads to Russia and eliminated missiles, missile silos, and strategic bombers on its territory. All chemical weapons were returned to Russia for elimination by January 1992. Ukraine possesses no biological weapons and is cooperating with the United States on measures to upgrade security at biological institutes that house dangerous microbes.
United Kingdom The United Kingdom is party to all major nonproliferation treaties and is a member of all major international export control regimes. The British government has made substantial reductions in its nuclear forces, partly due to changes in response to its July 1998 Strategic Defence Review. Though it once possessed biological and chemical warfare programs, London ended both programs in the mid-50s. Its limited missile program is now composed entirely of sea-launched missiles.
United States The United States possesses a substantial nuclear weapons arsenal and associated delivery systems. The 2001 Nuclear Posture Review suggests that the United States may seek to develop, and possibly test, new types of nuclear weapons in the future. The United States destroyed its biological weapons by 1970 and is in the process of destroying its stockpile of chemical weapons. Some critics allege that elements of U.S. government biodefense research are in violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).


"Countries Compared by Military > WMD > Overview. International Statistics at NationMaster.com", The Nuclear Threat Initiative. Aggregates compiled by NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Military/WMD/Overview

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Hi Marshall, info on Israel's possible WMD capability is not official, since Israel neither confirms nor denies it has either nuclear or non-nuclear missile capability. Follow the links given for more.

Posted on 01 Mar 2005

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

Suchita Vemuri, Staff Editor

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