Nuclear Weapons Attack More Likely Now Than At Any Time Since Cold War, Report Warns
The world is now at greater risk of nuclear strikes than during any period since the Cold War, researchers warned Monday in a new report.
Their findings also said the number of nuclear weapons will rise in the next decade for the first time after 35 years of decline, as global tensions rise amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The nine nuclear powers (Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, the United States, and Russia) had 12,705 nuclear warheads as of early 2022.
This was 375 fewer than at the beginning of 2021, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The number has dwindled from a high of more than 70,000 in 1986, as the US and Russia have gradually reduced their huge stockpiles amassed during the Cold War.
But this era of disarmament appears to be drawing to a close and the risk of a nuclear escalation is now at its highest point in the post-Cold War period, SIPRI researchers warned on Monday.
“Although there were some significant advances in both nuclear arms control and nuclear disarmament in the past year, the risk of nuclear weapons being used appears higher now than at any time since the height of the cold war,” he said. SIPRI Director Dan Smith. he said, presenting the report.
The world is at greater risk of nuclear strikes than at any other period during the Cold War, researchers warned Monday in a new report. In the photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks on June 12. He put his nuclear forces on high alert days after ordering his forces to invade Ukraine on February 24.
Matt Korda, one of the report’s co-authors, told AFP: “We will soon reach the point where, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the global number of nuclear weapons in the world could begin to rise for the first time. .’
Korda also warned: “If the nuclear-armed states do not take immediate and concrete steps on disarmament, then the global inventory of nuclear warheads could soon begin to rise for the first time since the cold war.”
After a “marginal” decline seen last year, “nuclear arsenals are expected to grow over the next decade,” SIPRI said.
During the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly referred to the use of nuclear weapons.
The Russian president put Moscow’s nuclear forces on high alert shortly after he began his invasion of Ukraine on February 24, raising fears he could push the button as the war in Ukraine continues against him.
The Kremlin has maintained that Russia would only resort to the use of nuclear weapons if faced with an existential threat.
Meanwhile, several countries, including China and Britain, are modernizing or increasing their arsenals, either officially or unofficially, the research institute said.
“It’s going to be very difficult to make progress on disarmament in the next few years because of this war and how Putin talks about his nuclear weapons,” Korda said.
These worrying statements are pushing “many other nuclear weapon states to think about their own nuclear strategies,” he added.
In the image: a graph showing the arsenals of five countries with the largest number of nuclear weapons.
Pictured: The mushroom cloud from a Russian nuclear bomb test is seen on October 30, 1961
Despite the entry into force in early 2021 of the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty and a five-year extension of the US-Russia ‘New START’ treaty, the situation has been deteriorating for some time, according to SIPRI.
Iran’s nuclear program and the development of increasingly advanced hypersonic missiles, among other things, have raised concerns.
The drop in the total number of weapons is due to the US and Russia “dismantling retired warheads”, SIPRI noted, while the number of operational weapons remains “relatively stable”.
Although Moscow and Washington have greatly reduced the number of nuclear weapons in their respective arsenals (in 1986 the two countries had more than 60,000 nuclear warheads between them), they still account for 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Russia remains the largest nuclear power, with 5,977 warheads as of early 2022, 280 fewer than a year ago, either deployed, in storage or awaiting dismantling, according to the institute. More than 1,600 of its warheads are believed to be operational immediately, SIPRI said.
The United States, for its part, has 5,428 warheads, 120 less than last year, but has more deployed than Russia, with 1,750.
Pictured: A woman walks past a television screen showing a news broadcast with archival footage of a North Korean missile test, at a train station in Seoul.
In terms of overall numbers, China is third with 350, followed by France with 290, Britain with 225, Pakistan with 165, India with 160 and Israel with 90.
Israel is the only one of the nine that does not officially acknowledge having nuclear weapons.
As for North Korea, SIPRI said for the first time that Kim Jong-Un’s communist regime now has 20 nuclear warheads. Pyongyang is believed to have enough material to produce around 50.
On Monday, South Korea’s top diplomat warned that North Korea has completed preparations for a new nuclear test and that only a political decision by the country’s top leaders can prevent it from going ahead.
In the case of Iran, non-proliferation experts have warned that the country has enriched uranium to levels greater than 60 percent purity – a small technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90 percent – to make a nuclear weapon if decides to do it.
Over the weekend, Israel warned that Iran was “dangerously close” to building nuclear weapons after the Middle Eastern country said it had begun removing 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites across the country, further dampening hopes that the 2015 nuclear deal might be revived.
Pictured: A test of a Russian ‘Satan-2’ nuclear missile is seen in pictures released by the Kremlin
In early 2022, the five nuclear-armed permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the US) issued a statement that “nuclear war cannot be won and will never be won.” must be released.”
Nonetheless, SIPRI noted, the five “continue to expand or modernize their nuclear arsenals and appear to be increasing the prominence of nuclear weapons in their military strategies.”
“China is in the midst of a substantial expansion of its nuclear weapons arsenal, which according to satellite images includes the construction of more than 300 new missile silos,” he said.
According to the Pentagon, Beijing could have 700 warheads by 2027.
Britain said last year it would raise the ceiling on its total stockpile of warheads and no longer publicly release figures for the country’s operational nuclear weapons.