Findings from The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) indicate an alarming trend in the global landscape of nuclear weapons. According to SIPRI, the proliferation of these weapons suggests that we are entering an unprecedented and perilous era, marked by escalating international tensions and an increase in nuclear saber-rattling.
In its latest report, SIPRI reveals a startling estimate of 12,512 warheads worldwide, with approximately 9,576 currently held in military stockpiles, poised for potential use. This figure represents a concerning uptick of 86 warheads since the start of 2022, effectively breaking the gradual decline witnessed since the conclusion of the Cold War. Of particular concern is China’s acquisition of 60 new warheads, raising questions about its professed commitment to maintaining only the minimum nuclear forces necessary for national security.
Furthermore, various nations have reported the possession of additional weapons. Russia, Pakistan, North Korea, and India have all bolstered their nuclear arsenals, further heightening anxieties. Despite the United Nations’ five permanent security council members releasing a joint statement in 2021 affirming that nuclear war is futile and must never be waged, the number of battle-ready warheads continues to climb.
The predominant share of nuclear weapons remains in the hands of Russia and the United States, collectively accounting for almost 90 percent. While both countries are actively dismantling over 1,000 retired warheads, approximately 3,844 warheads are still in active deployment, affixed to missiles or stored at airbases housing nuclear bombers.
Nevertheless, transparency surrounding nuclear stockpiles has diminished, particularly among Russia, the US, and the UK, further complicating the assessment of the true extent of the situation, exacerbated by Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
China, currently ranked as the third-largest nuclear power globally, has witnessed a significant increase in its warhead count from 350 in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023. Although further growth is anticipated, SIPRI projects that China’s arsenal is unlikely to surpass the stockpiles of the US and Russia.
Dan Smith, a director at SIPRI, emphasizes the urgent need for international cooperation to address these alarming developments.
“We are edging closer to one of the most precarious periods in human history. It is imperative for governments worldwide to find avenues of collaboration to alleviate geopolitical tensions, curb the arms race, and effectively address the mounting repercussions of environmental degradation and global hunger,” Smith asserted.