September 30, 2022

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The decline of nuclear weapons around the world is declining

The drop in the number of nuclear weapons in the world since the end of the Cold War was due to the modernization of nuclear power in 2020 and the expansion of weapons for some, according to a report released on Monday.

At the beginning of 2021, the nine countries equipped with the “bomb” (Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) had 13,080 nuclear weapons, or 320 less than at the beginning. 2020, Stockholm According to company (Sibri) estimates.

But this figure includes warships waiting to be removed. Excluding the latter, the stockpile of nuclear weapons rose from 9,380 to 9,620.

In fact, the number of nuclear weapons used in missiles or operations forces has increased by 105 units a year to 3,825 warships. About 2,000 of them are in the “high functional alert state”, which means it will launch in a few minutes.

The number of nuclear weapons melted away from its absolute peak in 1986 (more than 70,000 heads), for example in 2010 it dropped to 22,600 units (including nearly 7,500 operations at the time), according to Sibri’s data. 2021 total is the lowest since the late 1950s.

But “the nuclear disarmaments we have become accustomed to since the end of the Cold War seem to mark the time,” Hans Christensen, a researcher at Sibri, told AFP.

“We see the most important nuclear modernization projects in the world and in all nuclear-armed countries,” he said, adding that “the increasing importance of nuclear weapons in their military strategies”.

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This trend is seen in Russia and the United States – which have more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons: 6,255 (-120) and 5,550 (-250), Sipri says.

If the two powers continue to remove warships that are no longer operational, they will be at the beginning of 2021, however, more than 50 “operational deployments” than a year ago.

The agreement signed between Moscow and Washington, “New Start” – aimed at keeping their nuclear weapons below the level of the Cold War – was extended last minute by five minutes earlier this year.

– Concerns –

This extension is important to “build stability,” Mr. Christensen underlines that other agreements, such as the Interim Nuclear Forces Agreement (INF), have expired in recent years.

But the new Biden administration “very clearly indicates that this will continue to be the majority of the nuclear modernization program that has been underway over the years,” the researcher said.

According to the International Campaign for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) report released in early June, nuclear powers will spend $ 72 billion on their weapons by 2020, for a total of $ 1.4 billion.

According to Sibri estimates, at the beginning of 2021 China had 350 nuclear weapons (+30), France 290 (standard), the United Kingdom 225 (+10), Pakistan 165 (+5), India 156 (+6) and Israel 90 (stable).

To date, North Korea, a Swedish research firm, estimates that it could build 40 to 50 warships with split materials produced by the regime, but their actual number is “very uncertain”.

In August, members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which unites most countries in the world, are due to meet in New York for a five-year study.

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According to the NPT, nuclear powers are pursuing “good faith” regarding nuclear weapons.

However, in the face of renewing weapons, non-nuclear nations may question their obligations, Sibri worries.

“The member states of this agreement can rightly ask + do you really agree with this agreement? +” And “+ If you do not, why should we continue to be members of this agreement?” Mr. Christensen advances.

The following is marked with the question mark: Is this simply the end of the reduction phase, or the beginning of a re-increase that has not been seen for almost 40 years?

According to the expert, an increase in shares in China, for example, would be an impediment to the disarmament of the United States and Russia.

LNT avec Afp