Amid increasing global tensions, China is bolstering its nuclear arsenal
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By Smartencyclopedia Newsroom *

As global tensions rise, researchers revealed that the nuclear arsenals of several countries, most notably China, expanded last year, while other nuclear powers continued to modernize their own. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the total number of nuclear warheads among the nine nuclear-armed nations (Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States) decreased from 12,710 at the beginning of 2022 to 12,512 at the start of 2023. Out of these, 9,576 warheads were classified as “military stockpiles for potential use,” marking an increase of 86 compared to the previous year.

SIPRI makes a distinction between stockpiles available for use and the overall inventory, which includes older warheads scheduled for dismantlement. SIPRI’s director, Dan Smith, highlighted that the usable nuclear warhead stockpiles have started to rise, though the numbers are still significantly lower than the peak of over 70,000 warheads seen in the 1980s.

The main contributor to the increase was China, which raised its stockpile from 350 to 410 warheads. Additionally, India, Pakistan, and North Korea also augmented their stockpiles, while Russia’s increase was relatively small, growing from 4,477 to 4,489 warheads. The remaining nuclear powers maintained the size of their arsenals.

Notably, Russia and the United States still possess nearly 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. Smith emphasized that this development indicates the end of a three-decade decline in the number of nuclear warheads globally.

SIPRI researchers also observed setbacks in diplomatic efforts regarding nuclear arms control and disarmament following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The United States, for instance, suspended its “bilateral strategic stability dialogue” with Russia after the invasion. Moreover, in February, Moscow announced its suspension of participation in the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), which was the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty specifically limiting Russian and US strategic nuclear forces.

While acknowledging the timing of the stockpile increase, Smith clarified that the war in Ukraine cannot solely explain it, as the development of new warheads typically takes a longer timeframe. Furthermore, the bulk of the increase occurred among countries not directly affected by the conflict. China’s heightened investment in its military across various domains, paralleling its economic and influential growth, underscores its emergence as a global power, according to Smith.

Source: With Agencies

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