China, Pak nuclear arsenal growing: SIPRI Report
DECCAN CHRONICLE | DC Correspondent
New Delhi: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported on Monday that the nine nuclear-armed states, including the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, are continuing to modernise their nuclear arsenals. The SIPRI Yearbook highlighted that several nuclear-armed states introduced new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2022.
According to SIPRI's estimates, China's nuclear arsenal has increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023, with expectations for further growth. The report suggests that China could potentially possess as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as the US or Russia by the end of the decade, depending on its force structure.
India and Pakistan are also noted to be expanding their nuclear arsenals, with both countries introducing and developing new types of nuclear delivery systems in 2022. While Pakistan remains the primary focus of India's nuclear deterrent, the report suggests that India is placing increased emphasis on longer-range weapons capable of reaching targets in China.
The SIPRI report states that out of the estimated global inventory of 12,512 warheads in January 2023, around 9,576 were in military stockpiles for potential use. Of these, approximately 3,844 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2,000, mostly belonging to Russia and the US, were kept in a state of high operational alert.
Russia and the US possess almost 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons, and their respective nuclear arsenals remained relatively stable in 2022. However, transparency concerning nuclear forces decreased in both countries following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The report also highlighted that nuclear arms control and disarmament diplomacy suffered setbacks as a result of the invasion.
SIPRI director Dan Smith expressed concern, stating that the world is entering one of the most dangerous periods in human history. Smith emphasised the importance of international cooperation to calm geopolitical tensions, slow arms races, and address the worsening consequences of environmental breakdown and rising global hunger.