Analysts Find Continued Backing for Nuclear Arms, Despite Arsenal Cuts

Global Security Newswire Staff
June 16, 2014, 9:43 a.m.

Ana­lysts said nuc­le­ar powers seem com­mit­ted to re­tain­ing sig­ni­fic­ant atom­ic ar­sen­als, des­pite pur­su­ing mod­est re­duc­tions since last year, Re­u­ters re­ports.

Nine na­tions as of early this year pos­sessed roughly 16,300 nuc­le­ar weapons, a drop of roughly 5.6 per­cent since 2013, ac­cord­ing to es­tim­ates com­piled by the Stock­holm In­ter­na­tion­al Peace Re­search In­sti­tute. The de­crease con­tin­ued an in­cre­ment­al down­ward trend in glob­al war­head counts over the last half-dec­ade, the as­sess­ment in­dic­ates, not­ing that about 4,000 of the weapons were in act­ive ser­vice this year.

Still, the rate of stock­pile cuts ap­pears to have slowed down, and gov­ern­ments around the world are press­ing ahead with up­dates to their ar­sen­als, ac­cord­ing to the find­ings.

“Once again this year, the nuc­le­ar weapon-pos­sess­ing states took little ac­tion to in­dic­ate a genu­ine will­ing­ness to work to­ward com­plete dis­man­tle­ment of their nuc­le­ar ar­sen­als,” is­sue ex­perts Shan­non Kile and Phil­lip Pat­ton Schell said.

Wash­ing­ton and Mo­scow “have ex­tens­ive mod­ern­iz­a­tion pro­grams un­der way for their re­main­ing nuc­le­ar de­liv­ery sys­tems, war­heads and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­it­ies,” the re­port states.

Oth­er nuc­le­ar-armed na­tions pos­sess less siz­able ar­sen­als, but are “either de­vel­op­ing or de­ploy­ing new weapons or have an­nounced their in­ten­tion to do so,” ac­cord­ing to the pa­per.

Amid con­cerns about pos­sible tech­no­lo­gic­al ad­vance­ments in North Korea’s nuc­le­ar-arms pro­gram, the au­thors said there is “no pub­lic evid­ence to date that it has de­veloped a suf­fi­ciently com­pact nuc­le­ar war­head or oth­er key tech­no­lo­gies for a nuc­le­ar-armed bal­list­ic mis­sile.”

The United States, Rus­sia, China, France and the United King­dom pos­sess nuc­le­ar stock­piles ac­know­ledged un­der the Nuc­le­ar Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty. The SIPRI re­port also des­ig­nates In­dia, Pakistan, North Korea and Is­rael as nuc­le­ar-armed coun­tries, though Is­rael has nev­er form­ally ac­know­ledged hold­ing atom­ic arms.

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