Global nuclear arsenal expected to grow in years, says think-tank

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Global nuclear arsenal expected to grow in years, says think-tank

In this file grab, made of a handout video footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry on April 20, 2022, shows the launch of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile at the Plesetsk testing field, Russia. The risk of such weapons being used is the greatest in decades and the global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow in the coming years, a leading conflict and armaments think-tank said on Monday.

Russia's special military operation in Ukraine and Western support for Kyiv have heightened tensions among the world's nine nuclear-armed states, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think-tank said in a new set of research.

Unless immediate action is taken by the nuclear powers, global inventories of warheads could start rising for the first time in decades, according to SIPRI, while the number of nuclear weapons fell slightly between January 2021 and January 2022.

Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, said that all of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals, and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies.

Three days after Moscow launched a special military operation, President Vladimir Putin put Russia's nuclear deterrent on high alert.

He has warned of the consequences that would be such as you have never seen in your entire history for countries that stood in Russia's way.

Russia has the world's largest nuclear arsenal, with 5,977 warheads, about 550 more than the United States. The two countries have more than 90 percent of the world's warheads.

In January 2022 the global number of nuclear warheads fell to 12,705 from 13,080 in January 2021, according to SIPRI.

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An estimated 3,732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2,000 of them were kept in a state of high readiness, according to an estimated 3,732 warheads.

The relations between the world's great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face an array of deep and pressing common challenges that can only be addressed by international cooperation, said Stefan Lofven, SIPRI board chairman and former Swedish prime minister.