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In the years following World War II, the United Nations was formed. The 5 countries that would later have nuclear bombs – those who would be able to start a nuclear war – were all given permanent seats on the Security Council. This means they are on the Security Council forever. They were also all given equal veto power over decisions in the Security Council. These five countries were: United States, United Kingdom, China, France, and the Soviet Union.
For most of the 1900s, the Soviet Union was a superpower. After the Soviet Union split into a lot of smaller countries in 1991, it wasn't a superpower anymore. Russia got most of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons, and also its permanent seat in the Security Council. Some other countries also have nuclear weapons now, and can also start a nuclear war just as well, but they are not permanent members with veto power. The Republic of India, North Korea and Pakistan are two countries like this.
- Kim Richard Nossal. "Lonely Superpower or Unapologetic Hyperpower? Analyzing American Power in the post–Cold War Era" in Biennial meeting, South African Political Studies Association, 29 June-2 July 1999. . Retrieved on 2007-02-28.
- From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 (Published 2008), by Professor George C. Herring (Professor of History at Kentucky University)