According to a new report released Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the total number of nuclear warheads in global military stockpiles appears to be increasing this year. “At the start of 2021, the nine nuclear-weapon states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) – possessed an estimated 13 080 nuclear weapons. This was a decrease from the estimated 13 400 these states possessed at the start of 2020, according to SIPRI “SIPRI asserted.
However, SIPRI research indicates that this downward trend appears to have come to a halt.
“Despite this overall decline, the estimated number of nuclear weapons currently deployed with operational forces has increased to 3825, up from 3720 last year,” the research institute reported. According to SIPRI, both the US and Russia continued to reduce their nuclear arsenals in 2020, but both had approximately 50 more nuclear warheads in operational deployment at the start of 2021 than a year earlier.
“Both countries’ deployed strategic nuclear forces remained within the limits established by the 2010 Treaty on Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), despite the fact that the treaty does not set a cap on total nuclear warhead inventories,” SIPRI stated.
Additionally, the institute noted that China, along with India and Pakistan, is modernising and expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal. Russia and the US agreed in February to extend the New START treaty for an additional five years without renegotiating any of its terms. The treaty, which is set to expire on February 5, 2026, is the only remaining arms control agreement between two countries.
Each party is limited to 1,550 deployed warheads, 800 launchers, and 700 missiles under the terms of the treaty. Both the US and Russia met the New START Treaty‘s central limits in 2018 and have remained within or below them ever since.
According to the White House, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden are expected to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues relating to strategic stability and arms control during their Wednesday Geneva summit.
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