LONDON: India, Pakistan and China added more weapons to their nuclear arsenal during the last year, according to the respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
In its annual report on Monday, SIPRI said India added about 10 nuclear weapons to take its estimated nuclear arsenal from 80-100 to 90-110 in the beginning of 2013. Pakistan too added about 10 weapons to its warheads to take its stock from roughly 90-110 to 100-120.
China, which had 240 nuclear warheads in 2012, now has 250 in its arsenal, the report said.
The report said that at the start of 2013, eight states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, 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 eight states together possess a total of approximately 17 265 nuclear weapons in 2013 as compared with 19 000 at the beginning of 2012.
The decrease is due mainly to Russia and the US reducing their inventories under the terms of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) as well as retiring ageing and obsolescent weapons, the SIPRI statement said.
The report said all five legally recognized nuclear weapon states—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States—are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced such programmes in order to retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely.
Of the five, only China seems to be expanding its nuclear arsenal and the SIPRI reports sees India linking its ramp-up to the threat from China.
“’With India we see the gradual expansion of its longer-range ballistic missile capabilities which are not really targeted at Pakistan but rather at China,” ’ said SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.
“Once again there was little to inspire hope that the nuclear weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals. The long-term modernization programmes under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power,” he added.