The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in its annual nuclear forces data on Monday highlighted that while the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, none of the nuclear weapon states are prepared to give up their arsenals for the foreseeable future.
SIPRI, an independent resource on global security, highlights the current trends and developments in world nuclear arsenals. The report said nine states — the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — had 15,395 nuclear warheads at the start of 2016, including 4,120 which were operationally deployed.
SIPRI said the world’s biggest nuclear powers, the U.S. and Russia, are slowly reducing their nuclear arsenals but are modernising their capacities.
“The decrease in the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world is due mainly to Russia and the US—which together still account for more than 93 percent of the all nuclear weapons—further reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons,” the report said.
It, however, said despite the implementation of the bilateral Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) in 2011, the pace of their reductions remained slow.
The report highlighted that both Russia and the US have extensive and expensive nuclear modernisation programmes underway.
“The US, for example, plans to spend $348 billion during 2015–24 on maintaining and comprehensively updating its nuclear forces. Some estimates suggest that the US’ nuclear weapon modernisation programme may cost up to $1 trillion over the next 30 years,” it said.
“The ambitious US modernisation plan presented by the Obama Administration is in stark contrast to President Barack Obama’s pledge to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and the role they play in US national security strategy,” said Hans Kristensen, co-author to the SIPRI Yearbook.
The report said that other nuclear weapon-possessing states have much smaller arsenals, but have all either begun to deploy new nuclear weapon delivery systems or announced their intention to do so. It said India and Pakistan were both expanding their nuclear weapon stockpiles and missile delivery capabilities.
North Korea is estimated to have enough fissile material for approximately 10 nuclear warheads, the report said.
It was unclear whether North Korea has produced or deployed operational weapons. In the report, Russia was estimated to have 7,290 nuclear warheads at the start of 2016, and the U.S. 7,000, with the two countries accounting for 93 percent of nuclear weapons in the world.
They were followed by France (300), China (260), Britain (215), Pakistan (110-130), India (100-120), Israel (80) and North Korea (10).