‘China’s nuclear arsenal is becoming bigger, more modern’

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Jun 13, 2016 22:42 IST
Pakistani nuclear-capable Shaheen II surface-to-surface ballistic missiles during the National Day parade in Islamabad in 2005. (REUTERS)

The number of nuclear weapons in the world is declining but China is increasing and modernising its arsenal, a new report by a Stockholm-based military think-tank said on Monday.

The report estimates the number of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons to be between 100 and 130, as against the 100 to 120 nuclear weapons in India’s arsenal. It also estimates China has 260 nuclear weapons as of 2016.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its annual nuclear forces data that at the start of 2016, nine countries possessed approximately 4,120 operationally deployed nuclear weapons.

“The data shows that while the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, none of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future,” SIPRI said.

The report said the world’s nine nuclear weapon states – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — together possess approximately 15,395 nuclear weapons compared with 15,850 in early 2015.

“China appears to be gradually increasing its nuclear forces as it modernises its arsenal. India and Pakistan are both expanding their nuclear weapon stockpiles and missile delivery capabilities,” the report said.

“North Korea is estimated to have enough fissile material for approximately 10 nuclear warheads. However, it is unclear whether North Korea has produced or deployed operational weapons.”

Shannon Kile of SPRI said, “Despite the ongoing reduction in the number of weapons, the prospects for genuine progress towards nuclear disarmament remain gloomy. All the nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to prioritise nuclear deterrence as the cornerstone of their national security strategies.”

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