Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released data indicating the modernization of nuclear arsenals by nuclear-armed states.
According to SIPRI, in January 2023, countries such as Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel collectively possessed around 12,512 units of nuclear weapons, with 9,576 of them being stored for potential use, which is an increase of 86 units compared to January 2022. It is noted that approximately 2,000 warheads, primarily belonging to the US and Russia, were in a state of heightened readiness.
SIPRI specifies that as of the beginning of 2023, the United States and Russia are the leaders in terms of the number of deployed warheads, accounting for approximately 90% of the total nuclear weapons. They are followed by France and the United Kingdom.
According to SIPRI estimates, China’s nuclear arsenal size has increased from 350 to 410 warheads and is expected to continue growing. It is also anticipated that the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, and Pakistan will increase and modernize their nuclear arsenals.
Additionally, according to the SIPRI report, North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear program. Currently, the country has approximately 30 warheads and possesses enough materials to produce 50-70 units.
Earlier, the Norwegian publication The Barents Observer reported that Russia has deployed the highest number of strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons to its borders with Finland and Norway since 2022.
According to the publication’s sources, these bombers are stationed at the Olenegorsk airbase in the Murmansk region. It is from there that Russian strategic aviation has recently been taking off, occasionally conducting missile strikes on Ukraine.
The increased activity of Russian aviation in the region has already led to heightened tensions. At the end of April, NATO scrambled two F-35 fighters to intercept a group of seven Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace north of the Norwegian Finnmark region.