Nuclear Weapons and WMD Delivery Systems

Nuclear Weapons and WMD Delivery Systems


Nation-state efforts to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, or their underlying technologies constitute a major threat to the security of the United States, its deployed troops, and allies.


North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs continue to pose a serious threat to US interests and to the security environment in East Asia. North Korea's export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its construction assistance to a Syrian nuclear reactor, destroyed in 2007, illustrate its willingness to proliferate dangerous technologies. North Korea has also expanded the size and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces - from close-range to intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) - and continues to conduct test launches. Pyongyang is also committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States.


China has established a Rocket Force and continues to modernize its nuclear missile force by adding more survivable road-mobile systems and enhancing its silo-based systems. In addition, China continues to develop submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and might produce additional nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.


Russia has developed a ground-launched cruise missile that the United States has declared is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Russian officials have said the Treaty is unfair because it prohibits Russia, but not some of its neighbors, from developing and possessing ground-launched missiles with ranges between 500 to 5,500 kilometers.


The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran has enhanced the transparency of Iran's nuclear activities, mainly through improved access by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and investigative authorities under the Additional Protocol to its Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement. Iran's ballistic missiles are capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.