STOCKHOLM: The global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow in the coming years for the first time since the Cold War, while the risk of such weapons being used is greatest in decades, a leading conflict and armaments think tank said on Monday (June 13). †
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western support for Kiev have fueled tensions between the world’s nine nuclear-armed states, the think tank of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a new series of studies.
Although nuclear weapons numbers declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, SIPRI said unless the nuclear powers take immediate action, global stockpiles of nuclear warheads could soon rise for the first time in decades.
“All nuclear-weapon states are increasing or improving their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies,” Wilfred Wan, director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program, said in the think tank. yearbook 2022.
“This is a very worrying trend.”
Three days after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a “special military operation,” President Vladimir Putin has stepped up Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
He has also warned of consequences that would be “like you’ve never seen in your entire history” for countries standing in Russia’s way.
Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal with a total of 5,977 warheads, some 550 more than the United States. The two countries possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads, although SIPRI said China was expanding by an estimated 300 new missile silos.
SIPRI said the global number of nuclear warheads fell to 12,705 in January 2022, from 13,080 in January 2021. An estimated 3,732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and about 2,000 – almost all belonging to Russia or the United States – were placed in a state of high readiness.
“Relations between the world’s great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face a series of profound and urgent common challenges that can only be addressed through international cooperation,” said Stefan Lofven, president of the board of directors of SIPRI and the former Swedish Prime Minister.