STOCKHOLM: Nuclear powers are continuing to modernize their arsenals despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported Monday.
Nine nuclear-weapon powers — the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — had an estimated 13,865 nuclear weapons at the start of 2019, SIPRI said.
Deployed warheads and those held in reserve or awaiting dismantlement are included in the estimate.
The number is down by around 600 nuclear weapons from the previous year, driven mainly by Russia and the United States reducing their arsenals under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Russia and the United States have 6,500 and 6,185 nuclear warheads respectively, about a quarter of which are deployed.
SIPRI highlighted a trend of Russia and the United States pursuing extensive and expensive programs to replace and modernize their nuclear arsenals, missiles and delivery systems.
Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, which have 130 to 140 and 150 to 160 nuclear warheads respectively, are increasing the size of their arsenals while also developing new systems.
North Korea has an estimated 20 to 30 nuclear warheads, which SIPRI said was a priority for the country’s national security strategy. However, it noted that North Korea has not tested a nuclear weapon or long-range ballistic missile since it entered into denuclearization talks with the United States in 2018.
France has 300 nuclear warheads, China 290, the UK 200 and Israel 80 to 90.