Researchers warned Monday that the nuclear arsenals of a number of countries, especially China, increased last year, while other nuclear powers continued to modernize their tools, in the context of escalating geopolitical tensions.
“We are approaching, or may have already reached, the end of a long period of declining nuclear weapons around the world,” Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told AFP.
W76-1 tactical nuclear warhead
The total number of nuclear warheads among the nine nuclear powers – Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, the United States and Russia – fell to 12,512 at the beginning of 2023, compared to 12,710 at the beginning of 2022, according to the institute.
Currently, there are 9,576 of them in “military stockpiles for potential use,” 86 more than in the previous year.
“The reserve consists of usable nuclear warheads, and these numbers have begun to increase,” Smith said, noting at the same time that the numbers are still far from the eighties of the last century (more than 70 thousand).
Most of the increase comes from China, which increased its stockpile from 350 to 410 nuclear warheads. It has invested heavily in its military as its economy and influence have grown, according to Smith.
India, Pakistan and North Korea also increased their stockpiles, as did Russia, while other nuclear powers maintained their stockpiles.
For Smith, this increase in stockpiles cannot be linked to the war in Ukraine, given the long time required to develop nuclear warheads.
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