The world’s nuclear powers are planning to spend close to a trillion dollars modernising and upgrading weapons warheads and delivery systems over the next decade, according to an authoritative report published on Monday.
Despite government budget pressures and international rhetoric about disarmament, evidence points to a new and dangerous “era of nuclear weapons”, the report for the British American Security Information Council warns.
It says the US will spend $700 billion on the nuclear weapons industry over the next decade, while Russia will spend at least $70 billion on delivery systems alone. Other countries including China, India, Israel, France and Pakistan are expected to devote formidable sums on tactical and strategic missile systems.
For countries such as Russia, Pakistan, Israel and France, nuclear weapons are being assigned roles that go well beyond deterrence, says the report. In Russia and Pakistan, it warns, nuclear weapons are assigned “war-fighting roles in military planning”.
Pakistan and India, it warns, appear to be seeking smaller, lighter nuclear warheads so they have a greater range or can be deployed over shorter distances for tactical or “non-strategic” roles.
A common justification for the new nuclear weapons programmes is perceived vulnerability in the face of nuclear and conventional force development elsewhere. For example, Russia has expressed concern over the US missile defence. China has expressed similar concerns about the US and India, while India’s programmes are driven by fear of China and Pakistan.
The US is planning to spend $700 bn on nuclear weapons over the next decade. Another $92 bn will be spent on new nuclear warheads.
China is building up its medium and long-range “road mobile” missile equipped with multiple warheads.
Pakistan is extending the range of its Shaheen II missiles and improving its nuke weapons design.
India is developing new versions of its Agni land-based missiles sufficient to target the whole of Pak and large parts of China. It plans to build five submarines carrying ballistic nuclear missiles.