Friday, June 28, 2013

Nuclear States Developing New Weapons In Defiance Of Treaty

All five legally recognised nuclear states 'appear determined to retain nuclear arsenals indefinitely', says Stockholm Institute

Richard Norton-Taylor reports:

All five legally recognised nuclear states as defined by the non-proliferation treaty – China, France, Russia, the UK and US – are either deploying new nuclear weapons and delivery systems or plan to do so, according to a leading international research organisation.
The countries "appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely", says the latest yearbook published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
At the start of 2013, eight states – the US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel – possessed approximately 4,400 operational nuclear weapons. Nearly 2,000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert. If all nuclear warheads are counted, these states together possess a total of approximately 17,265 nuclear weapons, says the Sipri report.
Signatories of the non-proliferation treaty, including the UK, pledge to work towards nuclear disarmament.
"Once again there was little to inspire hope that the nuclear-weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals. The long-term modernisation programmes under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power," said the Sipri senior researcher Shannon Kile.
Of the five "official" nuclear states, China appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal while India and Pakistan are expanding both their nuclear weapon stockpiles and their missile delivery capabilities, Sipri says. Pakistan is also expanding its main plutonium-production complex at Khushab, Punjab.
Sipri estimates that Israel has approximately 80 intact nuclear weapons, 50 for its Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 for gravity bombs carried by aircraft. Israel may also have produced non-strategic nuclear weapons, including artillery shells and atomic demolition munitions, says the yearbook.
Robert Wall reports:
The three [China, India and Pakistan] added an estimated 10 warheads each to their inventories, with China’s arsenal now reaching 250 devices, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said today in releasing a new yearbook. Pakistan holds 100 to 120 units and India 90 to 110, while North Korea may have as many as eight warheads with an uncertain operational status, it said.
“The long-term modernization programs underway in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power,” said Shannon Kile, a senior researcher at the organization. “All are making qualitative improvements.”
The U.S., with the world’s largest defense budget, is set to spend $214 billion in the next decade on related activities, he said. “The irony is that with President Obama’s Prague address in 2009 calling for the gradual elimination of nuclear weapons, in fact the U.S. is determined to retain its triad of nuclear forces for the indefinite future,” Kile said in reference to the mix of long-range bombers, missiles, and submarine-launched capabilities the Pentagon maintains.
China, too, is pursuing a “qualitative” improvement of its inventory, Kile said. U.S. spending, including on long-range conventional strike capabilities, is driving China to make its own missiles more mobile and harder to attack, he said.
India is similarly working on expanding its capabilities to use nuclear weapons through new ballistic missiles in development. “With India we see the gradual expansion of its longer-range ballistic missile capabilities which are not really targeted at Pakistan but rather at China,” Kile said.
The French nuclear warhead inventory, the world’s third largest, remained unchanged at 300 units with the U.K. also maintaining a level stockpile at 225 devices. Israel, which has never publicly acknowledged its stockpile, is estimated to remain at 80 warheads, Sipri said.
“There was an extraordinary number of tests of nuclear-capable launch systems conducted in 2012,” Kile said. “That really is a good indicator of the commitment of all of these countries to modernize or expand their arsenals.”

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