Global nuclear arsenal to grow for first time in decades

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The global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow in the coming decade for the first time since the Cold War while the risk of such weapons being used is the greatest in decades, a leading conflict and armaments think tank said on June 13.

Nine nuclear powers had 12,705 nuclear warheads in early 2022

The nine nuclear powers are Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan the United States and Russia. They had 12,705 nuclear warheads in early 2022, or 375 fewer than in early 2021, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

As the US and Russia gradually reduced their vast arsenals built up during the Cold War, the number has decreased from a high of more over 70,000 in 1986. But, according to SIPRI experts, the era of disarmament looks to be coming to an end, and the risk of nuclear escalation is currently at its highest level in the post-Cold War period.

After a “marginal” decrease seen last year, “nuclear arsenals are expected to grow over the coming decade”, SIPRI said.

During the war in Ukraine, Russia President, Vladimir Putin has on several occasions made reference to the use of nuclear weapons.

Several countries are expanding their arsenals

Meanwhile, several countries, like China and the United Kingdom, are modernising or expanding their arsenals, either formally or informally, according to the research institute.

Russia is the world’s largest nuclear power

90 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal is held by Moscow and Washington alone. According to the institution, Russia is the world’s largest nuclear power, with 5,977 warheads deployed, in stock, or waiting to be dismantled in early 2022, down 280 from a year ago.

The United States meanwhile has 5,428 warheads, 120 fewer than last year, but it has more deployed than Russia, at 1,750.

In terms of overall numbers, China comes third with 350, followed by France with 290, Britain with 225, Pakistan with 165, India with 160 and Israel with 90.

Israel is the only one of the nine that does not officially acknowledge having nuclear weapons.

As for North Korea, SIPRI said for the first time that Kim Jong-Un’s Communist regime now has 20 nuclear warheads. Pyongyang is believed to have enough material to produce around 50.

Global number of nuclear warheads fell in January 2022

SIPRI said the global number of nuclear warheads fell to 12,705 in January 2022 from 13,080 in January 2021. An estimated 3,732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2,000 nearly all belonging to Russia or the US were kept in a state of high readiness.

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