Nuclear states modernize their weapons, China’s arsenal expands

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The nine nuclear-weapon states continue to modernize their arsenals and several have deployed new nuclear weapons or nuclear-capable systems in 2022, a Swedish think tank said Monday.

“We are sliding into one of the most dangerous times in human history,” said Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI.

“It is imperative that the governments of the world find ways to cooperate in order to calm geopolitical tensions, slow the arms race and deal with the worsening consequences of environmental degradation and increasing hunger in the world,” he said in a statement.

SIPRI estimated that of the total global inventory of 12,512 warheads in January 2023, some 9,576 were in military stockpiles for potential use, 86 more than in January 2022.

The independent institute listed nuclear-weapon states as the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

In its yearbook, the Swedish watchdog wrote that the United States and Russia each hold more than 1,000 warheads previously withdrawn from military service, which they are gradually dismantling.

As for China, SIPRI said the size of the country’s nuclear arsenal has increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023 and is expected to continue growing.

“Depending on how it decides to structure its forces, China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles as the United States or Russia by the end of the decade,” SIPRI wrote.

The institute said nuclear arms control and disarmament diplomacy had suffered major setbacks following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Washington suspended its bilateral dialogue on the strategic stability with Russia and Moscow announced in February that it was suspending its participation in the New START nuclear treaty.

Authorizing inspections of weapons sites and providing information on the placement of intercontinental and submarine ballistic missiles and their test launches are key elements of New START, which US President Barack Obama and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev signed. in 2010.

Nevertheless, according to SIPRI’s assessment, the deployed strategic nuclear forces of both countries remained within New START boundaries in January 2023.

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