Global Nuclear Arsenals Grow as Countries Continue to Modernize

It has been reported by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI), the nine nuclear-armed states – the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea – continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

And, although the total number of nuclear weapons declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, they are expected to increase in the next decade.

Notably, at the start of 2022, the above mentioned nine states possessed approximately 12 705 nuclear weapons, of which 9440 were estimated to be in military stockpiles for potential use.

About 3732 of these warheads were estimated to be deployed with operational forces, and around 2000 of these were kept in a state of high operational alert.

Also, among the nine nuclear states, Russia and the United States together possess over 90 percent of all nuclear weapons.

Besides, both Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities.

The nuclear arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so.

As for China, it is in the middle of a significant modernization and expansion of its nuclear arsenal, which appears to include the construction of over 300 new missile silos.

India and Pakistan also seem to be increasing the size of their nuclear weapon inventories, while in 2021 the UK announced its intention to increase its nuclear stockpile.

North Korea’s military nuclear programme remains central to its national security strategy, although in 2021 it did not conduct any tests of nuclear weapons or long-range ballistic missile delivery systems.

As per SIPRI, that North Korea has assembled up to 20 warheads, but that it probably possessed sufficient fissile material for approximately 45–55 nuclear devices.