China, other states strengthen nuclear arsenals:

Adeyemi Adeyemi

Global Courant

According to the Sweden-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the world’s nine nuclear-weapon states continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals, with China’s stockpile of nuclear warheads projected to increase by 17 percent by 2022.

In its SIPRI 2023 Yearbook released Monday, the think tank said it estimated China’s nuclear arsenal had increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023, and that it is “expected to continue growing.”

Depending on how China decided to structure its forces, the report added, China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as the United States or Russia by 2030, it added.

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“China has begun a significant expansion of its nuclear arsenal,” Hans M Kristensen, an associate senior fellow at SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), said in a statement.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile this trend with China’s stated goal of having only the minimum nuclear forces necessary to maintain its national security.”

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the world’s largest fighting force, but China is also attempting to modernize its military equipment and weapons.

Globally, SIPRI estimated there were 12,512 nuclear warheads in January 2023, with about 9,576 military stockpiles for potential use – 86 more than in January 2022.

Of those, an estimated 3,844 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and about 2,000—almost all from Russia or the US—were kept in a state of high operational readiness, meaning they were mounted on missiles or held at airbases where nuclear weapons were deployed. hosted. bombers.

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SIPRI noted that despite China’s increasing nuclear stockpile, the US and Russia together possess nearly 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.

And while their arsenal appeared to be stable in 2022 despite heightened tensions following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, SIPRI noted that transparency regarding nuclear forces in both countries had diminished due to the ongoing war.

In February, Russia said it was suspending its participation in the New START treaty, a key pillar of US-Russian nuclear arms control.

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Earlier this month, Washington said it would stop providing updates to Moscow on things like the location of missiles and launchers, in what Washington describes as a retaliatory measure for Moscow’s “violations” of the accord. It had already suspended its bilateral strategic stability dialogue with Russia shortly after the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, plans to place tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus as early as July and has regularly threatened nuclear retaliation since the start of the war in Ukraine and Western allies, including the US, rallied to defend the country. help defend themselves.

“We are drifting into one of the most dangerous periods in human history,” Dan Smith, director of SIPRI, said in a statement. “It is imperative that the world’s governments find ways to work together to calm geopolitical tensions, slow down arms races and deal with the worsening effects of environmental collapse and rising world hunger.”

Of the world’s other nuclear states, SIPRI noted that India and Pakistan also appeared to be expanding their nuclear arsenals and developing new types of nuclear delivery systems.

“While Pakistan remains the main focus of India’s nuclear deterrent, India appears to be increasingly emphasizing longer-range weapons, including weapons that can reach targets across China,” the report said.

North Korea has also prioritized its nuclear program in 2022, SIPRI noted.

The think tank estimates that Pyongyang, which last tested a nuclear weapon in 2017, has accumulated about 30 warheads and has enough fissile material for between 50 and 70 warheads, both significantly higher than January 2022 estimates.

In January, leader Kim Jong-un called for an “exponential” expansion of his nuclear arsenal.

Elsewhere, the SIPRI Yearbook said the UK’s stockpile of warheads was expected to grow after the government announced in 2021 that it was raising the cap from 225 to 260 warheads.

France is also moving ahead with plans to develop a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and a new air-launched cruise missile, as well as refurbishing and upgrading existing systems, SIPRI said.

Israel – which does not publicly acknowledge that it has nuclear weapons – is also said to be modernizing its nuclear arsenal.

“Most nuclear-weapon states are hardening their rhetoric about the importance of nuclear weapons, with some even making explicit or implicit threats about their possible use,” said Matt Korda, associate researcher at SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and senior research associate with the FAS Nuclear Information Project. “This heightened nuclear competition has dramatically increased the risk that nuclear weapons could be used in anger for the first time since World War II.”

The Yearbook is SIPRI’s annual assessment of the state of armaments, disarmament and security around the world.


China, other states strengthen nuclear arsenals:

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