Nuclear powers increase military capabilities
    PHOTO

    WORLD  17 June 2024 - 15:09

    Nine nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea continue to modernize their nuclear arsenal.

    As many as 9,585 out of 12,121 nuclear warheads are on alert as of January 2024, Caliber.Az reports, citing the report of Stockholm Institute for Peace Research (SIPRI).

    Meanwhile, China has significantly increased their number - from 410 in 2023 to 500 in 2024. For the first time in peacetime, China is likely to deploy a small number of warheads on missiles, the institute's report emphasizes.

    Russia and the USA together possess almost 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons. The sizes of their respective military stockpiles (i.e. useable warheads) seem to have remained relatively stable in 2023, although Russia is estimated to have deployed around 36 more warheads with operational forces than in January 2023. Transparency regarding nuclear forces has declined in both countries in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and debates around nuclear-sharing arrangements have increased in saliency. 

    lthough the UK is not thought to have increased its nuclear weapon arsenal in 2023, its warhead stockpile is expected to grow in the future as a result of the British government’s announcement in 2021 that it was raising its limit from 225 to 260 warheads. The government also said it would no longer publicly disclose its quantities of nuclear weapons, deployed warheads or deployed missiles.

    In 2023 France continued its programmes to develop a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and a new air-launched cruise missile, as well as to refurbish and upgrade existing systems.

    India slightly expanded its nuclear arsenal in 2023. Both India and Pakistan continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system in 2023. 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 throughout China.

    North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear programme as a central element of its national security strategy. SIPRI estimates that the country has now assembled around 50 warheads and possesses enough fissile material to reach a total of up to 90 warheads, both significant increases over the estimates for January 2023. While North Korea conducted no nuclear test explosions in 2023, it appears to have carried out its first test of a short-range ballistic missile from a rudimentary silo. It also completed the development of at least two types of land-attack cruise missile (LACM) designed to deliver nuclear weapons. 

    ‘Like several other nuclear-armed states, North Korea is putting new emphasis on developing its arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons,’ said Matt Korda, Associate Researcher with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Senior Research Fellow for the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. ‘Accordingly, there is a growing concern that North Korea might intend to use these weapons very early in a conflict.’

    Israel—which does not publicly acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons—is also believed to be modernizing its nuclear arsenal and appears to be upgrading its plutonium production reactor site at Dimona.

     

    Caliber.Az

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