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The Thermonuclear Men’s Club

By Kevin Filan

Once upon a time, we lay awake at night worrying that the Evil Empire would lob missiles in our direction. Today things are considerably more complicated: the current “War on Terrorism” involves several thermonuclear powers. Dr. Strangelove would have a field day. On the other hand, maybe he wouldn’t. The idea of an all-out, world-ending exchange of missiles has gone out of fashion. In its place we have scenarios for “tactical nuclear war,” or situations involving the deployment of one or more small nuclear weapons to knock out factories or bunkers. Apocalypse may not be right around the corner, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing some mushroom clouds in the near future.

Here are the members of the Thermonuclear Men’s Club – the countries which have one or more nuclear weapons. The list of “Up and Coming” could be considerably longer: any country with a nuclear reactor can generate the fissile material for a bomb. Among the countries which have reportedly made steps toward acquiring the bomb are Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey. Most of these countries have abandoned their quest, at least publicly, but it is likely the club will be expanding in the very near future. Nuclear weapons provide a deterrent against invasion and provide their possessor with cachet: many countries see the A-bomb as the difference between “Third World” and “Regional Superpower.”

( Select a region to learn more. )

Great Britain

Israel

Russia

The Up and Coming: Iraq and Iran

France

India

Pakistan

United States

China

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