‘Worrying trend’: Post-Cold War drop in nuclear weapons could be over

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Russian missile; Cold War; Weapons

The world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons are expected to rise in the coming years, reversing a decline seen since the end of the Cold War, a Swedish arms watchdog said.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – or Sipri – said on Monday that all nine nuclear-armed countries are increasing or upgrading their arsenals.

“There are clear indications that the reductions that have characterised global nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War have ended,” said Hans M. Kristensen, a researcher with Sipri’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

The US and Russia, which hold 90% of the world’s atomic weapons, saw their inventories decline in 2021 due to the dismantling of warheads retired from military service years ago.

Their useable military stockpiles remained relatively stable and within the limits set by a nuclear arms reduction treaty, Sipri said.

The research institute said that the other nuclear states — Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — are either developing or deploying new weapon systems, or have announced their intention to do so.

Israel has never publicly acknowledged having such weapons.

“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, the director of Sipri’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.

“This is a very worrying trend.”

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