A Swedish think tank has warned that the world is now facing the highest risk that nuclear weapons will be used since the Cold War. It has also said that the global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow over the coming decade.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released its annual report on Monday. It estimates that the number of global nuclear warheads stood at 12,705 in January 2022. That figure was down 375 from the previous year.
Roughly 90 percent of the global stockpile belongs to Russia and the United States. The report says Russia had an estimated 5,977 warheads. That is 278 less than it had last year. The United States had 5,428. That number is down 122 compared to 2021. Both declines were attributed to the dismantling of warheads that were retired from military service.
The report says North Korea had an estimated 20 warheads. It says India added four, and had a total of 160. It notes that the inventories of China, France and Britain remained unchanged.
Despite the overall drop in stockpiles, the report points out that Russia has made "open threats" about the possible use of nuclear weapons during its invasion of Ukraine. It warns that "the risk of nuclear weapons being used seems higher now than at any time since the height of the cold war."
The report also says countries that possess nuclear arms appear to be giving the weapons more prominence in their military strategies.
Matt Korda is one of the report's authors. He said, "If the nuclear-armed states take no immediate and concrete action on disarmament, then the global inventory of nuclear warheads could soon begin to increase for the first time since the cold war."