Updated Jun 10, 2018

The big picture: The world's other nuclear weapons hot spots

An entrance to one of India's missile test ranges. Photo: Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images

For all the attention North Korea is getting, there’s a web of nuclear threats around the world that risk setting off an arms race all on their own — even if the North Korean threat goes away.

The big picture: It’s worth taking the time to focus on the other standoffs. Heightened risk is not a certainty that nuclear conflict breaks out, but the web is tangled enough that a spark of conflict could have wide-ranging global consequences.

Iran

Iran began increasing its uranium enrichment following the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, and it may not remain in the deal with other countries much longer. Most of the incentive to remain in the deal came from economic benefits of doing business with the United States — and Europe alone will have trouble enticing Iran to stay in the deal.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudis have said they would consider making nuclear weapons if Iran restarts its nuclear weapons program. And Saudi Arabia has been seeking U.S. help in starting a nuclear program, even though Riyadh hasn’t accepted terms of uranium enrichment that would prevent the program from escalating beyond peaceful aims. Israel has gotten involved in the conversation in an attempt to prevent a potential arms race in the region.

China

Its nuclear policy states that it would only use nuclear weapons in response to an attack — but analysts close to the Chinese government fear that the U.S. National Security Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review frame China as a potential target for the U.S. as a primary rival on the world stage. And China has been working to catch up to the U.S. in the meantime.

India, Israel, and Pakistan

These three countries never signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which was drawn up as a way to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. And they each have nuclear arsenals.

  • Pakistan and India’s nuclear tension and arms race goes all the way back to the signing of the NPT in 1968‚ and their rivalry goes back even farther, to the partition of British India in 1947. According to the Brookings Institution, the cascade of geopolitical influence is dizzying in this case, too: Pakistan responds to India’s moves in the nuclear realm, and India responds to both Pakistan and China. And China in turn, responds to India and the U.S. This circle of tension has kept the region nearly on the brink of nuclear conflict since the 1960s.
  • Israel has maintained its nuclear weapons arsenal to keep up with the possibility that Saudi Arabia and Iran could become nuclear states, although it has kept a “strategic ambiguity” about it, neither confirming nor denying its existence. It’s believed that Israel began its program in the 1950s and that its weapons can reach Libya, Iran, and Russia, creating potential flash points there.
A few other powers…
Countries that had nuclear weapons/programs
  • Libya gave up its nuclear weapons in 2003. Many analysts believe Libya’s experience giving up nuclear weapons and Muammar Gadhafi’s downfall following the abandonment is scaring North Korea’s Kim Jong-un away from denuclearization.
  • Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine had nuclear weapons at one time following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but returned them to Russia.
  • Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan all also abandoned nuclear weapons programs.
  • South Africa developed nuclear warheads but dismantled them before joining the NPT in the 1990s.
  • Iraq dismantled its nuclear weapons program for UN inspectors after the Persian Gulf War.
Go deeper:

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to less than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,401,701 — Total deaths: 345,060 — Total recoveries — 2,149,407Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 1,643,238 — Total deaths: 97,720 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

President Trump doubled down on his push to reopen schools, tweeting late Sunday: "Schools in our country should be opened ASAP."

Zoom in: Trump pushed back on NIAD Director Anthony Fauci cautioning against the move earlier this month, calling his concerns "not an acceptable answer."