India's Nuclear Arsenal Surpasses Pakistan, Trails Far Behind China: New Report
India's Nuclear Arsenal Surpasses Pakistan, Trails Far Behind China: New Report

New Delhi: A recent report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has highlighted the ongoing modernization and expansion of nuclear arsenals across nine nations, including the United States, Russia, France, China, India, and Pakistan. The report, released on Monday, revealed that China significantly increased its nuclear warheads from 410 in January 2023 to 500 by January 2024, with projections indicating continued growth.

According to SIPRI, around 2,100 of the deployed warheads were maintained on high operational alert on ballistic missiles, predominantly belonging to Russia and the US. Notably, China is believed to have placed some warheads on high operational alert for the first time.

The SIPRI report underscored that the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel are actively modernizing their nuclear arsenals. As of January 2024, the global inventory stood at an estimated 12,121 warheads, with approximately 9,585 in military stockpiles ready for potential use. Of these, 3,904 were deployed with missiles and aircraft, marking an increase of 60 warheads from January 2023.

The report highlighted that India had 172 'stored' nuclear warheads in January 2024, slightly expanding its arsenal in 2023. Pakistan, on the other hand, possessed 170 nuclear warheads. Both countries continued to develop new nuclear delivery systems throughout the year.

"While Pakistan remains the primary focus of India's nuclear deterrent, India has shown an increasing emphasis on longer-range weapons capable of targeting China," the report stated.

Regarding China, the report indicated that its nuclear arsenal expansion rate was faster than any other country. Hans M Kristensen, Associate Senior Fellow with SIPRI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, noted, "Depending on its force structure decisions, China could potentially match the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) numbers of either Russia or the US by the end of the decade."

The SIPRI report further highlighted that Russia and the US collectively possess nearly 90% of all nuclear weapons globally. The size of their military stockpiles remained relatively stable in 2023, although Russia reportedly deployed approximately 36 more warheads than in January 2023.

Transparency concerning nuclear forces in both Russia and the US has declined following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The report also noted increased debates around nuclear-sharing arrangements.

While India's nuclear capabilities have exceeded those of Pakistan, the country still lags significantly behind China. The global nuclear landscape continues to evolve, with China's rapid expansion posing significant implications for international security.

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