• World
  • Jun 20
  • Kevin Savio Antony

China has 500 nuclear warheads, shows SIPRI report

The global landscape of nuclear weaponry remains a critical focus of international security and strategic analysis. Recent findings from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) underscore significant developments in the arsenals of key nuclear-armed states as of January 2024. 

The report reveals shifts in nuclear stockpiles, modernisation efforts, and diplomatic challenges amidst geopolitical tensions.

Highlights of the report:

• India’s Nuclear Arsenal: India increased its nuclear warhead count from 164 to 172, positioning itself ahead of Pakistan, which maintained a stable count of 170 warheads.

• China’s Nuclear Expansion: China significantly expanded its nuclear arsenal from 410 warheads to 500 warheads, marking substantial growth and indicating ongoing modernisation efforts.

• Global Nuclear Stockpile: The global inventory includes approximately 12,121 nuclear warheads, with around 9,585 held in military stockpiles. This marks a slight increase from previous years.

• Deployment and Alert Status: About 3,904 warheads are deployed with missiles and aircraft, with approximately 2,100 on high operational alert, primarily in Russia and the USA.

• Dismantlement Efforts: Both Russia and the USA continue to dismantle retired warheads, collectively possessing over 1,200 such warheads.

• China’s Rapid Expansion: SIPRI identifies China’s nuclear arsenal expansion as the fastest among all nuclear-armed states, reflecting its strategic priorities and capabilities.

• UK’s Stockpile Plans: The UK plans to expand its warhead stockpile from 225 to 260, with reduced public disclosure on details of its nuclear arsenal.

• France’s Modernisation: France pursued the development of new nuclear systems, including advanced submarines and air-launched missiles, in 2023.

• North Korea’s Nuclear Programme: North Korea continues to advance its military nuclear programme, estimated to have assembled approximately 50 warheads with potential for further growth.

• Israel’s Nuclear Capability: Israel, officially undeclared, reportedly enhances its nuclear arsenal and plutonium production capabilities.

• Diplomatic Challenges: Nuclear arms control and disarmament efforts faced setbacks in 2023, including Russia’s suspension from the New START treaty and withdrawal from the CTBT, impacting global security dynamics.

• Iran-US Relations: A June 2023 agreement aimed to reduce tensions between Iran and the US amid broader geopolitical uncertainties and nuclear diplomacy challenges.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

• SIPRI was established in 1966 and is headquartered in Solna, Sweden.

• SIPRI operates as an independent international institute and serves as a global think tank.

• The institute specialises in providing data, analysis, and recommendations on various topics including armed conflict, military spending, arms trade, disarmament, and arms control.

• SIPRI conducts its research primarily using open sources of information.

• The institute’s research is tailored to benefit decision-makers, researchers, media professionals, and the general public.

• SIPRI aims to promote understanding of the conditions necessary for peaceful conflict resolution and sustainable peace through its research outputs and recommendations.

(The author is a trainer for Civil Services aspirants.)

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