As nuclear nations commit to renewing and sometimes expanding their arsenals, a decline in the number of weapons seen since the early 1990s seems to have stalled, with some signs of a numerical increase, researchers said yesterday.
“The reduction of nuclear arsenals that we have gotten used to since the end of the Cold War appears to be leveling out,” said Hans Kristensen, associate senior fellow at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme.
The number of nuclear weapons among the nine nuclear-armed states — the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — totaled 13,080 at the start of this year, a slight decrease from 13,400 a year earlier, the institute estimated.
However, that included retired warheads waiting to be dismantled and without them the combined military stockpile of nuclear arms rose from 9,380 to 9,620.
Meanwhile, the number of nuclear weapons deployed with operational forces increased from 3,720 to 3,825, the report said.
Of these, about 2,000 were “kept in a state of high operational alert,” meaning for launch in a matter of minutes.
“We’re seeing very significant nuclear modernization programs all around the world and in all the nuclear weapons states,” Kristensen said.
Nuclear states also seem to be raising “the importance they attribute to the nuclear weapons in their military strategies,” he said.
This change can be observed in both Russia and the US, which together possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, Kristensen said, adding that it was too early to say if the administration of US President Joe Biden would deviate from the strategy of former US president Donald Trump.
“I think that the Biden administration is signaling quite clearly that it is going to continue the overwhelming main thrust of the nuclear modernization program that was underway during the Trump years,” he said.
In August, the parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty — most nations — are set to meet in New York for a review held every five years.
Under the treaty nuclear powers commit to “pursue negotiations in good faith” both on the “cessation of the nuclear arms race” and “nuclear disarmament,” but as many are renewing their arsenals, other parties might question their commitment.
“The member states of that treaty will rightly be able to ask: ‘Are you truly in compliance with this treaty? If you’re not, why should we continue to be members to the treaty?’” Kristensen said.
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, the Bhutanese Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on Tuesday last week in a mass drive that has been hailed by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic.” Bhutan grabbed headlines in April when its government said it had inoculated about the same percentage of eligible adults with the first dose
‘LIBERATE HONG KONG’: The prosecution argued that the slogan was in the tradition of rallying cries for secession dating back to the Qin and Qing dynasties Three Hong Kong judges are to rule tomorrow whether the protest slogan: “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times” is a call for secession when they deliver a verdict on charges against a man arrested at a demonstration last year. The landmark ruling could have long-term implications for how a Beijing-imposed National Security Law against secession, terrorism, subversion and collusion with foreign forces reshapes the territory’s common law traditions, some legal scholars say. Democracy advocates say that a ruling to outlaw the slogan would tighten limits on free speech. The slogan was last year chanted during democracy protests, posted online, scrawled on walls,
For almost 500 years, the arch that connects the largest Gothic cathedral in the world with its Renaissance sacristy has offered visitors a sumptuous, if little glimpsed — and even less studied — vision of religious bounty. The 68 beautifully carved plates of food that adorn the archway in Seville’s cathedral offer rather more than bread and wine. There are pigs’ trotters and wild strawberries, aubergines, clams and oysters. There are peaches, radishes, a skinned hare with a knife by its side, a squirrel served on a bed of hazelnuts and a plate of lemons across which a small snake slithers. There