In an annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) warns that the global nuclear arsenal is on the rise again. At the start of the next decade, the total inventory of nuclear warheads will reach 12 705 – up from 9440 at the beginning of the century. Of those, 3732 are deployed with aircraft and missiles and the remaining 2000 are held in high operational alert.
The report points to the escalation in the Ukraine. Russia has made explicit threats of using nuclear weapons in conflict. President Putin’s order to keep nuclear forces on alert after the February invasion and the establishment of Ukraine’s government in 1991 is a sign that Russia is retaliating in a potentially explosive way. As a result, other nations are watching and listening closely to Moscow’s rhetoric and actions. Whether they decide to increase their arsenals or not is another story entirely.
In the years since the Cold War, the world has spent almost $3.8 trillion on nuclear weapons, and most of this has gone toward developing delivery vehicles. This includes ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, artillery shells, depth charges, and nuclear land mines. But the United States government hasn’t been diligent in overseeing this budget. During the Cold War, nuclear testing was common.
In addition to the United States, Russia, China, and India have all tested nuclear weapons in recent years. The recent North Korean test was particularly significant, as it was much larger and more powerful than the previous ones. Observers concluded that the explosion was more than 200 kilotons. This test explosion gives credence to North Korea’s claims that they are developing a hydrogen bomb.
This yearbook examined the growing number of nuclear weapons in other countries, including India, Pakistan, and North Korea. The report pointed out that the growing hostility along the India-China border and the recent nuclear tests by North Korea were worrying signs of future conflict. In addition, the yearbook also looked at nuclear stockpiles and tests in other countries. Despite the rapid growth in nuclear weapons, the number of countries that may seek to build nuclear weapons is still quite low.
In the wake of the nuclear test explosion in South Africa, 43 African nations sign the Treaty of Pelindaba in Egypt. The treaty bans land-based missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,400 miles. South Africa accedes to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, claiming to have six atomic bombs. In response, the nations of Southeast Asia declare themselves nuclear weapons free.
The Cold War began to heat up again in the 1980s. After Ronald Reagan became president, the USSR and the Soviet Union were armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. At the time, the total number of nuclear warheads in the United States was approximately 68,000, but the Soviet Union’s arsenal was nearly twice that size. This gap in thought and reality continues to widen.