SIPRI Says Global Nuclear Arsenal To Grow In The Coming Years, First Time Since Cold War

TheĀ globalĀ nuclearĀ arsenalĀ is expected toĀ growĀ in the coming years for theĀ firstĀ timeĀ sinceĀ theĀ ColdĀ WarĀ while the risk of such weapons being used is the greatest in decades, a leading conflict and armamentsĀ think-tankĀ said on Monday.

Russiaā€™s invasion of Ukraine and Western support for Kyiv has heightened tensions among the worldā€™s nineĀ nuclear-armed states, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)Ā think-tankĀ said in a new set of research.

While the number ofĀ nuclearĀ weapons fell slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, SIPRI said that unless immediate action was taken by theĀ nuclearĀ powers,Ā globalĀ inventories ofĀ warheads could soon begin rising for theĀ firstĀ timeĀ in decades.

ā€œAll of theĀ nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading theirĀ arsenals and most are sharpeningĀ nuclearĀ rhetoric and the roleĀ nuclearĀ weapons play in their military strategies,ā€ Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRIā€™s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, said in theĀ think-tankā€™s 2022 yearbook.

ā€œThis is a very worrying trend.ā€

Three days after Moscowā€™s invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin calls a ā€œspecial military operationā€, President Vladimir Putin put Russiaā€™sĀ nuclearĀ deterrent on high alert.

He has alsoĀ warned of consequences that would be ā€œsuch as you have never seen in your entire historyā€ for countries that stood in Russiaā€™s way.

Russia has the worldā€™s biggestĀ nuclearĀ arsenalĀ with a total of 5,977Ā warheads, some 550 more than the United States. The two countries possess more than 90% of the worldā€™sĀ warheads, though SIPRI said China was in the middle of an expansion with an estimated more than 300 new missile silos.

SIPRI said theĀ globalĀ number ofĀ nuclearĀ warheads fell to 12,705 in January 2022 from 13,080 in January 2021. An estimated 3,732Ā warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2,000 ā€“ nearly all belonging to Russia or the United States ā€“ were kept in a state of high readiness.

ā€œRelations between the worldā€™s great powers have deteriorated further at aĀ timeĀ when humanity and the planet face an array of profound and pressing common challenges that can only be addressed by international cooperation,ā€ SIPRI board chairman and former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said.

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