No slow down in nuclear race

No slow down in nuclear race

No slow down in nuclear race

A Russian Topol-M ICBM is driven across Red Square in a Victory Day Parade in this 2008 photo. All five legally recognized nuclear states: the US, the UK, China, Russia and France are either deploying new weaponry or have announced plans to do so, a report says. AFP photo

The total number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined, but nations that possess nuclear weapons are looking for more sophisticated versions of the weapons remaining and are showing no signs of moving toward complete disarmament, a think-tank report has said.

All five legally recognized nuclear states; the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and France are either deploying new weapons systems or have announced plans to do so. None of them have shown anything more than a “rhetorical willingness” to disarm, the 2012 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said, adding that these countries appear to want to hold on to their nuclear arsenals indefinitely. The report’s content includes developments in armaments, disarmament and international security.

At the start of 2012, eight states, the U.S., the U.K., China, Russia, France, India, Pakistan and Israel, possessed approximately 4,400 operational nuclear weapons. Nearly 2,000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possess a total of approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons, compared with 20,530 at the beginning of 2011.

‘Currency of status, power’

According to the report, the decrease is mainly due to Russia and the U.S. reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons under the terms of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), as well as the retiring of aging and obsolescent weapons. “While the overall number of nuclear warheads may be decreasing, the long-term modernization programs under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a currency of international status and power,” said SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.

India and Pakistan continue to develop systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons, the report warned. It also said Israel was continuing to maintain its longstanding policy of nuclear opacity, neither officially confirming nor denying that it possesses nuclear weapons.

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