Eight nuclear states possess 17,270 nukes

The 2013 report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has revealed that eight nuclear countries—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel possess a total of approximately 17,270 nukes including operational warheads, spares, those in both active and inactive storage and intact warheads scheduled for dismantlement.

According to SIPRI, at the start of 2013, the eight afore-mentioned nuclear states had possessed approximately 4,400 operational nuclear weapons, of which nearly 2,000 have been kept in a state of high operational alert.

Providing data, analysis and recommendations to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public since 1966, the Sweden-based SIPRI has maintained in its latest report: “The availability of reliable information about the nuclear weapon states’ arsenals varies considerably. France, the UK and the USA have recently disclosed important information about their nuclear capabilities. In contrast, transparency in Russia has decreased as a result of its decision not to publicly release detailed data about its strategic nuclear forces under the 2010 Russian–US New START treaty, even though it shares the information with the USA. China remains highly non-transparent as part of its long-standing deterrence strategy.”

The report has further stated: “Reliable information on the operational status of the nuclear arsenals and capabilities of the three states that have never been party to the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—India, Israel and Pakistan—is especially difficult to find. In the absence of official declarations, the available information is often contradictory, incorrect or exaggerated.”

According to SIPRI’s January 2013 estimates, the United States has 2,150 deployed nuclear warheads and 5,550 other warheads, taking the total to 7,700 of the approximately 17,270 nukes present on the planet today, which include 4,400 operation warheads and 12,865 other inactive storage and intact weapons.

Further break-up in this context shows that Russia has 1,800 deployed nuclear warheads and 6,700 other warheads, taking the net tally to 8,500.

The United Kingdom has 160 deployed nuclear warheads and 65 other warheads, taking the tally to 225.

France has 290 deployed nuclear warheads and 10 other warheads, bring the total to 300.

China has 250 nukes, India has 90-110 warheads, Pakistan possesses 100-120 of them, Israel has 80 and North Korea is in possession of just six to eight warheads.

Commenting on this worrisome state of affairs, SIPRI has viewed: “Since the nuclear weapon arsenals of Russia and the USA are by far the largest, one result has been that the total number of nuclear weapons in the world has been declining. The nuclear arsenals of the other three legally recognised nuclear weapon states are considerably smaller, but all three states are either deploying new weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so. Of the five legally recognised nuclear weapon states, only China appears to be expanding the size of its nuclear arsenal. In 2012, China conducted a comprehensive series of missile trials consolidating its road-mobile, land-based and submarine-based nuclear deterrent.”

About the nuclear capabilities of Pakistan and India, SIPRI has opined: “India and Pakistan are increasing the size and sophistication of their nuclear arsenals. Both countries are developing and deploying new types of nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missile and both are increasing their military fissile material production capabilities. India’s nuclear doctrine is based on the principle of a minimum credible deterrent and no-first-use of nuclear weapons.”

It has gone on to assert: “In June 2012 the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, convened a meeting of India’s Nuclear Command Authority, which reportedly stressed the need for the ‘faster consolidation’ of India’s nuclear deterrence posture based on an operational trial of nuclear forces. In 2012, Pakistan conducted a series of missile trials testing most of its nuclear-capable missile types that are currently in operational service or still under development. Pakistan is also expanding its main plutonium-production complex at Khushab, Punjab.”

On Israel, the report has stated: “Israel continues to maintain its long-standing policy of nuclear opacity. It neither officially confirms nor denies that it possesses nuclear weapons. It is estimated that Israel has approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, of which 50 are for delivery by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 are gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft. The operational status of the longer-range Jericho III ballistic missile is unknown. There was renewed speculation in 2012 that Israel may also have developed nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missiles.”

About North Korea’s military nuclear capabilities, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has written: “North Korea maintains a secretive and highly opaque military nuclear programme. There is no public information to verify that it possesses operational nuclear weapons. However, in January 2012 the US Director of National Intelligence assessed that North Korea had produced nuclear weapons, although he gave no estimate of the size of the country’s weapon inventory. During 2012, several non-governmental reports concluded, based on the analysis of satellite imagery and other evidence, that North Korea was making technical preparations for carrying out a third underground nuclear test in tunnels at its nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, in the north-east of the country.”

The News report by Sabir Shah

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