STOCKHOLM (Realist English). A Swedish think tank has sounded the alarm over the growing number of operational nuclear weapons in the arsenals of major military powers. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated that there are now 12,512 nuclear warheads globally, up 86 from last year.
Of the 12,512 total nuclear warheads, the think tank estimates that 3,844 of them are deployed with missiles and aircraft.
The nine nuclear-armed states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Israel—continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals and several deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2022.
Russia and the USA together possess almost 90% of all nuclear weapons. The sizes of their respective nuclear arsenals (i.e. useable warheads) seem to have remained relatively stable in 2022, although transparency regarding nuclear forces declined in both countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
In addition to their useable nuclear weapons, Russia and the USA each hold more than 1000 warheads previously retired from military service, which they are gradually dismantling.
SIPRI’s estimate of the size of China’s nuclear arsenal increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023, and it is expected to keep growing. Depending on how it decides to structure its forces, China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either the USA or Russia by the turn of the decade.