The decrease in the number of nuclear weapons seems to have stalled, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday in its annual report. According to the researchers, there are even signs of an increase.
“The decline in the global nuclear arsenal, to which we have become accustomed since the end of the Cold War, seems to be levelling off,” says researcher Hans Kristensen of SIPRI to AFP news agency.
The nine countries with nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea-estimated by SIPRI at the beginning of 2021 had a total of 13,080 nuclear weapons in their possession. That is a little less than a year earlier, when 13,400 nuclear weapons were on duty.
However, this number also includes nuclear warheads that are no longer in use and are still being dismantled. Without these warheads, there were a total of 9,620 nuclear weapons at the beginning of this year, compared with 9,380 last year. In the same period, the number of nuclear weapons deployed by operational forces increased from 3,720 to 3,825. These include weapons mounted on missiles or stored on active military bases.
According to the report, countries with nuclear weapons and others are engaged in “extensive and expensive modernisation programmes”. The importance that countries attach to nuclear weapons seems to be increasing. This can be seen in Russia and the United States, which together own more than 90 percent of the nuclear weapons. By the beginning of 2021, both countries deployed approximately 50 percent more warheads in operation than a year earlier.