Global nuclear arsenal declines

Over the past twelve months, the world has seen a drop in the number of active nuclear weapons as countries retire aged or obsolete weapons. China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States possess in total approximately 19,000 nuclear weapons, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported on June 4th, about 1500 fewer than in 2011. North Korea has also demonstrated a nuclear capability, but it is not known if it possesses any operational nuclear weapons.

The decline in the global nuclear arsenal does not indicate that the nuclear powers are now taking serious steps towards the elimination of their nuclear weapons, however. All of the nuclear states have modernization efforts currently underway, indicating that they intend to retain their weapons for many years to come.

“In spite of the world’s revived interest in disarmament efforts, none of the nuclear weapon-possessing states shows more than a rhetorical willingness to give up their nuclear arsenals just yet,” says SIPRI analyst Shannon Kile.

Meanwhile, international concern about Iran’s nuclear activities, which may lead to Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, remains high.

“The main question now is whether the current negotiations between Iran and the P-5+1 states (U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia, and the U.S. plus Germany) will yield concrete results,” Kile said. “The prospects for reaching a negotiated settlement remain unclear, with both sides engaged in political gamesmanship,” he stated.

Kile also expressed concern about the Security Council’s turning a blind eye to Syria’s suspected secret nuclear operations after Israel bombed what is believed to have been an unfinished nuclear reactor in 2007.

Source: Nuclear Arms Seen Falling in Number, Increasing in Sophistication, Global Security Newswire, 4 June 2012

Tags: China, France, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear disarmament, Nuclear proliferation, Nuclear weapons, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States