World (The Times Groupe)- The global nuclear arsenal will likely grow in the coming years for the first time since the Cold War, while the danger of such weapons being used is the highest in decades, a think-tank has said.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think-tank, tensions among the nine nuclear-armed states have increased due to the Russian offensive in Ukraine and Western support for Kiev.
While nuclear weapons declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, SIPRI warned that unless the nuclear powers took immediate action, warhead inventories could soon rise for the first time in decades.
“According to SIPRI’s 2022 yearbook, “all nuclear states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals, and most are sharpening their nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies,” said Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.
Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert three days after Moscow launched its assault on Ukraine, which the Kremlin describes as a “special military operation.”
As well, he warned that Russia would face “consequences such as you have never known in your entire history” for countries that stood in its way.
More than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons are in the hands of Russia and the United States. Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, comprising 5,977 warheads.
Third in overall numbers is China 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 acknowledge it has nuclear weapons.
For the first time, SIPRI reported that Kim Jong-un’s Communist regime (North Korea) now has 20 nuclear warheads.
The North has enough material to produce around 50 warheads.
SIPRI reported in January 2022 that the world’s nuclear arsenal fell to 12,705 warheads from 13,080 in January 2021. Around 3,732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and about 2,000 – nearly all belonging to Russia or the United States – were kept in a state of high readiness.
Stefan Lofven, SIPRI board chairman and former Swedish prime minister, said the world’s great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face profound and pressing challenges that can only be met with international cooperation.
In early 2022, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, China, France, and Russia — declared that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.