Warn of an increase in operational nuclear weapons

The number of operational nuclear weapons increased last year as powers step up their programs to expand and modernize their arsenals, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) warned on Monday.

Of the approximately 12,512 nuclear warheads owned by nine nuclear powers as of January 2023, (US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), about 9,576 units were in stock for potential use, up 1% from a year ago.

From those, about 3844 warheads and about 2000 were placed on missiles and aircraft, almost all from the US and Russiaon high alert, according to the body’s report, which nonetheless notes a year-on-year drop in the world’s nuclear arsenal by nearly two points.

The size of the arsenals of these two countries, which together account for 90% of all nuclear weapons, “appear to have remained relatively stable”, although transparency in this area has decreased as a result of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, which began in February 2022.

Increase in warheads in China

SIPRI estimates that China has increased its number of warheads by 17% over the past year and is expected to continue to grow, so that by the end of this decade it could have as many ICBMs as Russia or the United States.

The report expects the UK to increase its number of warheads in the future following a government announcement in 2021, and notes that France is continuing its nuclear ballistic missile programs for third-generation submarines and air-launched cruise missiles.

North Korea with more bandwidth

India and Pakistan also appear to be expanding their arsenals, while North Korea continues to prioritize its nuclear program as the centerpiece of its national security strategy.

SIPRI estimates that Pyongyang has assembled about 30 warheads and has enough fissile materials for another 50-70, a “significant” increase from last year.

Israel, which does not publicly acknowledge the possession of nuclear weapons, is also believed to be modernizing its arsenal.

Dangerous rhetoric and clear threats

“Most nuclear powers are ratcheting up the rhetoric about the importance of these weapons and even using explicit or implicit threats. about its possible use. This nuclear rivalry has dramatically increased the risk of using nuclear weapons for the first time since World War II,” the report warns.

SIPRI also warns that rising geopolitical tensions and the closure of communication channels are in turn increasing the risk of “miscalculations, misunderstandings and accidents” to “unacceptably high” levels.

“It is imperative to restore nuclear diplomacy and strengthen international control over nuclear weapons.“, condemns the report of this institute dedicated to the investigation of conflicts, armaments, arms control and disarmament, established in 1966 and based in Stockholm.

Author: german wave
Source: La Opinion

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