India & Pakistan expanding nuclear arsenals, both continued developing new types of delivery systems in 2022, says Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute report.
China’s nuclear arsenal increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January this year, and is expected to keep growing, according to an assessment report by Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI) in June 2023.
“Depending on how it decides to structure its forces, China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either the US or Russia by the turn of the decade,” said the report by the Sweden-based organisation dedicated to research on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
As of 2023, the US has 1,770 deployed warheads and 1,938 stored warheads. Russia, on the other hand, has 1,674 deployed warheads and 2,815 stored warheads.
The US’s total inventory currently stands at 5,244, whereas that of Russia is at 5,889.
The assessment of the state of armaments, disarmament, and international security found that the nine nuclear-armed states: the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Israel, continued to modernise their nuclear arsenals. Several of these countries also continued to deploy new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2022, said the report.
India and Pakistan too, are expanding their nuclear arsenals and continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery systems in 2022, according to the report. “While Pakistan remains the main focus of India’s nuclear deterrent, India appears to be placing growing emphasis on longer-range weapons, including those capable of reaching targets across China,” it said.
Defining ‘stored warheads’ as stored or reserve warheads that would require some preparation before being deployed, it said that while India has 164 such warheads, Pakistan possesses 170. In 2022, India’s tally stood at 160 while Pakistan’s was at 165.
Of the total global inventory of an estimated 12,512 warheads in January 2023, about 9,576 were in military stockpiles for potential use — 86 more than in January 2022.
Of the 12,512, SIPRI said that an estimated 3,844 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2,000 — nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the US — were kept in a state of high operational alert, meaning that they were fitted to missiles or held at airbases hosting nuclear bombers.
According to the report, Russia and the US together possess almost 90 percent of all nuclear weapons. It stated that the sizes of their respective nuclear arsenals (usable warheads) seem to have remained relatively stable in 2022, although transparency regarding nuclear forces declined in both countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
“Nuclear arms control and disarmament diplomacy suffered major setbacks following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In the wake of the invasion, the USA suspended its bilateral strategic stability dialogue with Russia,” said the report.
It added that in in February 2023, Russia announced it was “suspending its participation in the 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) — the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty limiting Russian and US strategic nuclear forces”. Further, the report pointed out that “talks about a follow-on treaty to New START, which expires in 2026, were also suspended”.