The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released new data showing that the collective number of nuclear warheads has fallen slightly from 13,865 in early 2019 to 13,400 in January 2020. That decrease has occurred at a time of heightened global tension and SIPRI reported that the nine states possessing nuclear warheads are actively modernizing their stockpiles. For example, China is developing a triad involving land, sea and aerial delivery systems, Russia is pursuing the development of hypersonic weapons and both India and Pakistan are slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces.
Russia and the U.S. possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads and the recent decline in the global inventory can be attributed to the retirement and dismantlement of weapons in both countries. That is primarily due to the 2010 New START Treaty which is set to expire early next year unless both parties agree to extend it. Negotiations have made no progress, primarily due to the U.S. government insisting China joins any future arms reduction agreement, a move Beijing has ruled out.
In January of 2020, Russia had 6,375 nuclear warheads with 1,570 operationally deployed with the total number falling by 125 compared with early 2019. The U.S. has 385 fewer weapons than last year and it currently has around 5,800 in total with 1,750 deployed operationally. China has the third-highest number with 320, a figure that grew by 30 over the past 12 months. France and the UK round off the top five with 290 and 215 nuclear weapons, respectively.
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feature image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson