- Nine nuclear powers had 12,705 nuclear warheads in early 2022.
- Risk of nuclear escalation is now at its highest point in post-Cold War period.
- Russia remains the biggest nuclear power, with 5,977 warheads in early 2022.
According to analysts, the number of nuclear weapons in the globe is projected to climb in the coming decade after a 35-year reduction as global tensions rise in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the nine nuclear powers — Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, the United States, and Russia — had 12,705 nuclear weapons in early 2022, down 375 from early 2021. (SIPRI).
As the US and Russia gradually reduced their vast arsenals built up during the Cold War, the number has decreased from a high of more over 70,000 in 1986.
But, according to SIPRI experts, the era of disarmament looks to be coming to an end, and the risk of nuclear escalation is currently at its highest level in the post-Cold War period.
“We’re going to get to the point where, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the worldwide number of nuclear weapons might start expanding for the first time,” one of the report’s co-authors, Matt Korda, told AFP.
“That’s some very risky land.”
“Nuclear arsenals are anticipated to rise over the future decade,” SIPRI added, after a “marginal” drop last year.
Several times throughout the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin alluded to the use of nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, several countries, like China and the United Kingdom, are modernising or expanding their arsenals, either formally or informally, according to the research institute.
“Because of this war and the way Putin talks about his nuclear weapons, it will be very difficult to achieve progress on disarmament in the next years,” Korda added.
“A lot of other nuclear-armed governments are thinking about their own nuclear strategy,” he continued in response to these alarming words.