Even as world leaders fret about how to keep nuclear states like North Korea or Pakistan from launching a deadly strike, Russia and the United States remain the world’s most heavily-armed countries.
Russia and the U.S. together account for around 92 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, despite a small decrease in the nuclear arsenal of both countries, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Both countries also plan to modernize their nuclear arsenals in the near future.
“Despite making limited reductions to their nuclear forces, both Russia and the USA have long-term programs under way to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear-weapon production facilities,” SIPRI’s annual report, released Monday, reads.
“The USA’s most recent Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), published in February 2018, reaffirmed the modernization programmes and approved the development of new nuclear weapons. The NPR also emphasized expanding nuclear options to deter and, if necessary, defeat both nuclear and ‘non-nuclear strategic attacks,’” it continues.
Which countries hold nuclear weapons? How many do they have? (As of January 2018)
— SIPRI (@SIPRIorg) June 18, 2018
Members of the Trump administration’s Department of Defense have suggested that they would launch a nuclear strike in response to non-nuclear threat.
The U.S. is currently estimated to have around 6,450 nuclear warheads, while Russia has 6,850, according to Monday’s report. Currently, there are estimated to be around 14,935 nuclear weapons worldwide.
Aside from the U.S. and Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan are both working to expand their nuclear stockpile and develop new missiles to deliver nuclear weapons, according to the report.
“China continues to modernize its nuclear weapon delivery systems and is slowly increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal,” the report added.
President Donald Trump has recently launched a new diplomatic process to convince North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons. Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 in order to begin negotiations that would lead to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
The talks began after both leaders had spent months threatening to attack each other. Both leaders signed an agreement affirming that denuclearization is the ultimate goal, but many arms experts say it is likely the U.S. and North Korean leadership have very different ideas about what denuclearization means. The signed agreement lacked specific details.
Meanwhile, ongoing conflict between longtime rivals India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir has caused some analysts to worry that the two nuclear-armed countries could enter into an armed conflict as the international community focuses on North Korea.
BY CRISTINA MAZA