A renowned conflict and armaments think-tank stated on Monday that the worldwide nuclear arsenal is anticipated to rise in the next years for the first time since the Cold War, while the chance of such weapons being used is at its highest in decades.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, along with Western backing for Kiev, has heightened tensions among the world’s nine nuclear-armed powers, according to new study from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

While the quantity of nuclear weapons decreased marginally between January 2021 and January 2022, SIPRI warned that unless nuclear countries took quick action, global stocks of warheads might soon begin to rise for the first time in decades.

“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,” said Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, in the think-2022 tank’s yearbook.

“This is a very worrying trend.”

Three days after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which the Kremlin refers to as a “special military operation” President Vladimir Putin activated Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

He has also threatened nations who stand in Russia’s path with “such as you have never seen in your entire history” 

Russia possesses the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, with 5,977 nuclear warheads, 550 more than the United States. The two nations control more than 90 percent of the world’s warheads, however SIPRI said that China was in the midst of an expansion that included an estimated 300 additional missile silos.

According to SIPRI, the worldwide number of nuclear weapons declined from 13,080 in January 2021 to 12,705 in January 2022. An estimated 3,732 warheads were deployed aboard missiles and planes, with an additional 2,000 held in high readiness, virtually all of which belonged to Russia or the United States.

“Relations between the world’s great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face an array of profound and pressing common challenges that can only be addressed by international cooperation,” said SIPRI board chairman and former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Source: Reuters

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