The number of atomic warheads in operation in the world increased in 2022, driven largely by Russia and China, a new report released Wednesday said, with nuclear tensions escalating since the war in Ukraine.
The nine official and unofficial nuclear powers have 9,576 warheads ready in 2023 — up from 9,440 the year before, according to the Observatory for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons published by the NGO Norwegian People’s Aid.
The report said that these weapons have a “collective destructive force” equal to “more than 135,000 Hiroshima bombs.”
The figures were published as Moscow repeatedly raised the nuclear threat in connection with its invasion of Ukraine and Western military aid to the eastern European country.
A Russian ICBM launcher marches across Red Square during the public rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 7, 2022.
The launch of a Russian intercontinental Yaris missile at a missile test facility in Plesetsk
An additional 136 warheads to the global ready-to-use nuclear stockpile last year were attributed primarily to Russia and China.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday that he had agreed with Minsk to deploy “tactical” nuclear weapons in Belarus, the country on the doorstep of the European Union.
Today, Russian forces launched a nuclear readiness and training exercise using the Yaris intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.
An additional 136 warheads were attributed to Russia, which has the world’s largest arsenal with 5,889 operational warheads, as well as China, India, North Korea and Pakistan.
“This increase is alarming, and continues a trend that began in 2017,” Observatory Editor-in-Chief Grithi Loglu-Ustern said in a statement.
At the same time, the total stockpile of nuclear weapons, which also includes those decommissioned, is declining.
In the same year, the number of nuclear weapons decreased from 12,705 to 12,512, due to the dismantling of old warheads in Russia and the United States.
But Austin warned that unless the trend of adding new warheads was halted, “the total number of nuclear weapons in the world will soon increase again for the first time since the Cold War.”
The eight official nuclear powers are the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea, while Israel is known to possess nuclear weapons unofficially.
Photo of a test launch of a Russian Sarmat nuclear missile
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting at the government residence in Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow. Last week, Putin announced that he intends to place tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus
The latest figures on the number of nuclear warheads in operation around the world came as a leading think tank warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that nuclear weapons could be used in Ukraine if he feels defeat is imminent.
Moscow has raised new concerns in recent days about its willingness to deploy destructive weapons, as it announced last week that it would transfer nuclear missiles to Belarus before starting today its maneuvers using the Yars ICBM system.
in Research paper For the UK’s leading foreign policy think tank Chatham House, Russia and Eurasia expert Keir Giles has warned that there is a “non-zero” chance that Putin will seek to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
He wrote: ‘A nuclear strike could be ordered if there was no longer any prospect of claiming a conventional victory, and a powerful devastating attack on Ukraine was seen as the only means of avoiding conceding apparent defeat.
“The moment when Putin feels his options have been exhausted is likely to be the most dangerous decision point,” he concluded.
Giles noted that nuclear weapons would have little military benefit on the ground in Ukraine, given that the front line stretches hundreds of miles and that any strike would not only kill Ukrainians, but would also irradiate the Earth and make it uninhabitable for Russian forces.
This means that the strike is unlikely to achieve military objectives, but rather “as a retaliation simply aimed at causing misery and destruction in Ukraine in acknowledgment of Russia’s failure to overcome it”.
The newspaper added that the barriers that prevent Moscow from launching a nuclear weapon – such as the risk of retaliatory strikes, the increase in nuclear proliferation among its enemies, and the possibility of becoming a pariah on the world stage – do not take into account the possibility that it is Putin. Unable to make rational decisions.
In order to deter Putin from considering the possibility of nuclear proliferation, Giles argues that the US, UK, and Western allies should not be persuaded by a nuclear sable to destabilize Moscow, and instead articulate the consequences that Putin himself might face.
What happened in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
The first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, by an American B-29 bomber code-named Enola Gay.
A mushroom cloud appears over Nagasaki, Japan
The 9,000-pound uranium-235 bomb exploded 1,900 feet (580 meters) above the ground, killing between 60,000 and 80,000 people instantly, some instantly disappearing from the heat of the massive blast.
Others died due to a fire raging in the city and it is believed that about 135,000 people died from radiation sickness.
The blast leveled more than six square miles (10 square kilometres) of the city, with the fire raging for three days, burning thousands of survivors and leaving them homeless.
With major buildings such as hospitals destroyed and more than 90 percent of the city’s doctors and nurses killed in the blast, there was little help available for the wounded.
Three days later, a second US atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki.
Japan surrendered six days later, ending World War II.
Ten years later, the long-term effects of the bombs were noted, including a rise in leukemia – a blood cancer that was not included in the study.
The first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, by an American B-29 bomber code-named Enola Gay. Three days later, a second US atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki
Cancer was said to affect children disproportionately, with cases appearing two years after the bomb and peaking four to six years later. IBT mentioned.
The Radioeffects Research Foundation estimates that 46 percent of leukemia deaths at bomb sites from 1950 to 2000 were due to radiation from the bombs, with 1,900 cancer deaths linked to the atomic bomb, in total.