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Nuclear Weapons: India and China increase their arsenals

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Nuclear Weapons

A recent report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute indicates that India and China have added to their nuclear warhead stockpile in the last year while all other nuclear-armed States like the U.S., Russia and France, continued to modernize their arsenals. The report affirms that India increased its stockpile from an estimated 130-140 nuclear warheads in 2019 to 150 in 2020, while China increased its arsenal from an estimated 290 warheads to 320 during the same time. China and Pakistan, which has an estimated stockpile of 160 nuclear warheads, individually have more nuclear warheads than India.

China is modernizing its nuclear arsenal and developing a so-called nuclear triad for the first time, made up of new land and sea-based missiles and nuclear capable-aircraft. India and Pakistan were both increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear weapons, the report added. The two neighbours are engaged in a six-week-long rim stand-off at multiple places along their 3,488 kilometers (2,167 mile) long unmarked borders. Although, meetings between senior military personnel and at the diplomatic level have eased tensions, the skirmish continues.

According to SIPRI Yearbook 2020, globally nine nations together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2020 which is slightly lower than the 2019 count of 13,865. The drop was largely due to the dismantling of retired weapons by Russia and the U.S., who account for over 90 percent of the world’s stockpile. Of the 13,400 active nuclear warheads, the SIPRI estimates about 3,720 of the nuclear weapons are deployed with operational forces and another 1,800 are stored in a state of readiness.

The White House announced its planned exit from the Open Skies Treaty that permits each party to conduct short-notice, military reconnaissance flights over the others’ territory, to contemplating a return to live tests of nuclear explosions and eyeing the deployment of advanced missiles to Asia, possibly to Japan, the moves are a drastic shift from an era that had focused almost exclusively on reining in weapons of mass destruction.

Many of the moves, according to US top officials, have been aimed directly at generating what they have termed “a new era of arms control” that would bring China into the fold. Now, with expiration looming for New START, Washington’s sole remaining strategic arms-control agreement with Russia, Trump is attempting to make China an offer that it can’t refuse and bring it into an envisioned trilateral pact to substitute it. There’s just one problem: Beijing has other ideas.

Despite repeated entreaties, China has been exceedingly blunt in its refusals to enter negotiations for such a pact, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying in January that Beijing “has no intention of participating in any trilateral arms control talks.” The new report confirms that while China will continue to expand and modernize its nuclear forces, the recent moves by Washington will give Beijing more incentive to move faster and stronger in that direction.

Eight sovereign states have publicly announced successful detonation of nuclear weapons. Five are considered to be nuclear-weapon states (NWS) under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In order of acquisition of nuclear weapons these are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China. Since the NPT entered into force in 1970, three states that were not parties to the Treaty have conducted overt nuclear tests: India, Pakistan, and North Korea which had been a party to the NPT but withdrew in 2003.

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