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Stats IQ: ICBM Status

Context: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has launched its annual (2023) assessment of the state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

Key findings

Major Nuclear Armed States
  • The United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and Israel continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals.
  • These 9 countries have also deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2022.
Global Inventory of warheads
  • Total global inventory was 12,512 warheads in January 2023.
  • 2000 warheads, belonging to Russia or the USA were kept in a state of high operational alert (they were fitted to missiles or held at airbases hosting nuclear bombers).
Russia and US
  • Russia and the USA together possess almost 90% of all nuclear weapons.
  • Transparency regarding nuclear forces declined in US and Russia in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
  • China’s nuclear arsenal increased from 350 warheads in 2022 to 410 in 2023.
  • China could have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either the USA or Russia by the turn of the decade.
India and Pakistan
  • India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals.
  • Both countries introduced and continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system in 2022.
  • India’s arsenal grew to 164 warheads in 2023 from 160 in 2022.
  • Pakistan’s arsenal grew from 165 to 170.
  • Pakistan remains the main focus of India’s nuclear deterrent.
  • India appears to be placing growing emphasis on longer-range weapons, including those capable of reaching targets across China.
North Korea
  • North Korea conducted more than 90 tests of missiles in 2022.
  •  Some of these missiles, which include new ICBMs, can carry nuclear warheads.
  • Elevated nuclear competition has dramatically increased the risk that nuclear weapons might be used in anger.
  • The five nuclear weapon states recognized by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty seem negligent about their commitment to disarmament.
  • Nuclear arms control and disarmament diplomacy suffered major setbacks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
  • Iran’s military support to Russia in Ukraine has overshadowed talks on reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 agreement meant to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
  • The impacts of the war in Ukraine are visible in almost every aspect of the issues connected to armaments, disarmament and international security .

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