Rise in Nuclear Weapons Raises Risk of 'Accidents': Report

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The number of operational nuclear weapons increased last year, as the powers boost their programs to expand and modernize their arsenals, warned the Stockholm International Institute for Peace Studies (SIPRI).

Of the estimated total of 9,576 nuclear warheads possessed in January 2023 by the nine atomic powers (United States, RussiaUK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), about 9,576 were in stockpiles for potential use, up 1% from a year ago.

Of those, about 3,844 warheads were deployed in missiles and aircraft and about 2,000, almost all of USA and Russia, in a state of high operational alert, according to a report by this body, which nevertheless notes a year-on-year drop of almost two points in the global nuclear arsenal.

the size of the nuclear arsenal of these two countries, which together account for 90% of all nuclear weapons, "seems to have remained relatively stable", although transparency in this area has declined as a result of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine started in February 2022.

SIPRI estimates that China It has increased its number of warheads by 17% in the last year and it is expected to continue growing, so that by the end of this decade it could have as many intercontinental ballistic missiles as Russia or the United States.

The report predicts that United Kingdom increase its number of warheads in the future after the announcement of the Government in 2021 and highlights that France It continues its development programs for a third generation of nuclear ballistic submarine missiles and air-launched cruise missiles.

India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their arsenals as well, while North Korea it continues to prioritize its nuclear program as a central element of its national security strategy.

SIPRI estimates that Pyongyang has assembled around 30 warheads and possesses enough fissile material for 50 to 70 more, a "significant" increase from a year earlier.

It is also believed that Israelwhich does not publicly admit to possessing nuclear weapons, is modernizing its arsenal.

"Most of nuclear powers it is toughening the rhetoric about the importance of these weapons and even using explicit or implicit threats about their potential use. This nuclear competition has dramatically increased the risk of nuclear weapons being used for the first time since World War II. World War“, warns the report.

SIPRI also warns that the increase in geopolitical tension and the closure of communication channels in turn increases the risk of "calculation errors, misunderstandings and accidents” to “unacceptably high” levels.

"There is an urgent need to restore nuclear diplomacy and strengthen international controls on nuclear weapons," denounces the report of this institute dedicated to the investigation of conflicts, weapons, gun control and disarmament, created in 1966 and based in Stockholm.

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