Global powers ramping up nuclear arsenals – study
Nuclear powers are actively modernizing and expanding their arsenals amid rising geopolitical tensions, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.
The think tank estimated that as of January 2023, Russia, the US, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel had a total of 12,512 warheads, with 9,576 stored in military stockpiles for potential use – an increase of 86 from one year previously.
The report also claimed that as of January, Russia and the US – which between them possess almost 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons – had 1,674 and 1,770 deployed warheads respectively. Last year, Russia had approximately 1,588 warheads while the US had 1,744, according to SIPRI.
The think tank noted that “the sizes of their respective nuclear arsenals… seem to have remained relatively stable in 2022, although transparency regarding nuclear forces declined in both countries” following the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine.
Over the course of the year, China’s nuclear arsenal grew from 350 warheads to 410, SIPRI estimated, adding that by the end of the decade Beijing “could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles as either the USA or Russia.”
Elsewhere, the UK is not thought to have increased its arsenal in 2022, although its number of warheads is expected to grow in the years to come. Meanwhile, France has continued its nuclear development program, while India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals, the report said.
North Korea is said to be prioritizing its nuclear program and is estimated to have assembled some 30 warheads. Israel, which has not publicly admitted to possessing nuclear weapons, is also believed to be modernizing its nuclear arsenal, SIPRI added.
The think tank also pointed to the erosion of global arms control architecture amid the Ukraine conflict, noting Washington’s decision to freeze strategic stability dialogue with Russia and Moscow’s suspension of the 2010 New START Treaty, which places limits on US and Russian nuclear arsenals.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the move in February, pointing to the refusal of Western powers to permit inspections of their nuclear facilities. He confirmed, however, that Moscow would continue to abide by the deal’s limits on deployed warheads.