Report: Number of operational nuclear weapons increases. For the first time, even China has warheads ready

2024-06-18 21:50:36Kosova&Bota SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
Nuclear weapons

The number of operational nuclear weapons increased again last year. This comes from the SIPRI Institute's annual report. For the first time, it seems that even China has warheads ready.

The more tense the situation in the world, the more important nuclear weapons become, says the report of the SIPRI Institute. However, analyst Dan Smith calculated that the number of nuclear warheads has decreased overall. However, as he says, this is simply due to the fact that the stockpile of old weapons is being dismantled.

He says he is concerned about the number of nuclear weapons ready for use. About 2,100 such weapons, he says, are on high operational alert. The number of guns that are actually available has increased slightly recently, he says. "This is a relatively new development in the last two to three years. And this trend has continued into 2023," Smith said.

USA, Russia and China in focus

The US and Russia possess the vast majority of these weapons ready for use. What is new is that China also maintains nuclear warheads on high operational readiness in peacetime. Overall, China is the country with the fastest growing amount of these weapons.

There are several reasons for this: China wants to achieve great power status - which includes nuclear weapons. Then China prepares for different threats and scenarios. She wants to be ready for any occasion and therefore increases the number of these weapons. And she wants to prepare for any possible surprise attack in which her weapons could be destroyed.

Nine countries have nuclear weapons

China's economic boom is why the country has steadily increased military spending for nearly 30 years, he says. A total of nine countries have nuclear weapons: the US and Russia are the leaders, followed by the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

SIPRI analyst Smith believes that all countries will continue to modernize their reserves. "It's about more accurate weapons, more range, or more warheads per missile," Smith says.

Great Britain has ordered a new generation of submarines after previously also ordering new missiles. "This is a continuous process, stocks never stop," says the analyst.

SIPRI calls on countries to cooperate

Smith believes that nuclear weapons are highly unlikely to be used. However, the risk must be taken seriously, because the effects would be more than catastrophic. As the world, he says, is currently in a multifaceted crisis - this requires cooperation between countries.

"We need to cooperate in other areas as well: on climate change or preparing for the next pandemic, on global trade or curbing international crime. All these things require international cooperation," says Smith.

The Stockholm Peace Research Institute SIPRI is an independent institution that publishes annual reports on, for example, the arms trade, the arms industry and military spending. SIPRI is mainly financed by the Swedish government./ DW