The Swedish peace research institute Sipri sees the impending danger of nuclear weapons being used. Despite significant advances in arms control and nuclear disarmament, “the risk of using nuclear weapons now appears to be higher than at any time since the height of the Cold War,” warns Sipri director Dan Smith. Experts are now assuming that there will be more nuclear weapons around the world again in the next ten years. A turning point.

There are clear signs that the reduction in arsenals since the end of the Cold War has come to an end, says nuclear weapons expert Hans M. Kristensen. All nine nuclear-armed states expanded or modernized their arsenals, explains Sipri director Wilfred Wan. The rhetoric was also intensified, and a growing importance could be observed for nuclear weapons in military strategies. “This is a very worrying trend,” said the Sipri expert.

As evidence, the peace researchers point to Russia’s repeated threats of the possible use of nuclear weapons in a war of aggression in Ukraine. The talks between Russia and the US about strategic stability have come to a standstill due to the war. Russia and the US together possess over 90 percent of all nuclear weapons.

The other nuclear-armed states Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are either developing or deploying new weapons systems or have announced that they will. For example, satellite images showed the construction of 300 new missile silos in China.

The peace researchers are assuming an estimated 12,705 (previous year: 13,080) warheads worldwide at the beginning of 2022, of which around 9,440 are in military storage facilities for possible use, of which around 3,732 warheads for missiles and aircraft – 1,744 from the USA and 1,588 from Russia. About 2,000 warheads, almost all from Russia and the US, were kept on high alert.

The Sipri experts consider the fact that Great Britain announced that it would increase the upper limit for the number of its warheads, which means a departure from decades of disarmament, to be a warning sign. Britain has criticized Russia and China for a lack of nuclear transparency, but will not publish any more figures on the operational nuclear arsenal itself.

France started developing a new generation of nuclear submarines in early 2021. The Sipri experts estimate that North Korea has now assembled up to 20 nuclear warheads and has enough fissile material for 45 to 55 warheads.

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