The number of nuclear weapons declined in 2019 worldwide compared to previous years, but the armed countries continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals, an international peace institute reported on Monday.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) announced in its annual report that nine countries possessed estimated 13,865 nuclear weapons today, 600 less than 2018 figures.
“Of these 13,865 nuclear weapons; 3,750 [nuclear warheads] are deployed with operational forces and nearly 2,000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert,” the report read.
According to SIPRI, the number of total nuclear weapons, possessed by the U.S. and Russia, correspond to 90% of all nuclear weapons as these countries currently have 6,185 and 6,500 nuclear warheads respectively.
In addition to these nuclear heavyweights, there are seven other countries that possess nuclear arsenal: Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, India, China, France and the U.K.
SIPRI's annual report highlighted that the decline of the nuclear weapons across the globe was mainly due to "the U.S. and Russia further reducing their strategic nuclear forces", which is in line with 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START).
“Both Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities,” the report noted.
Emphasizing that New Start would expire by 2021 unless Moscow and Pentagon reached the mutual ground, SIPRI warned that this was unlikely given the "political and military differences between the two countries, citing Shannon Kile, Director of SIPRI’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.
The report noted that the “availability of reliable information” regarding countries’ nuclear arsenal varied considerably.
The Stockholm-based institute stated that the U.S. and the U.K "disclosed information" regarding their stockpile while France also declared “some information”, but Russia did not make its nuclear data “publicly available.”
Furthermore, according to the report, India and Pakistan provided “little information” about their stockpile and nuclear capabilities.
North Korea, for its part, “acknowledged” that it conducted nuclear weapon and missile tests, however, presented no information about its nuclear power.
Israel, however, did not provide any information about its nuclear capability. “Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear Arsenal,” the report concluded.
By Ali Murat Alhas