Nuclear attack risk ‘higher than at any time since Cold War’ as Putin pummels Ukraine

Putin's puppet threatens Poland with nuclear strike

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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) added the global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow over the coming years for the first time since the Cold War. SIPRI Director Dan Smith said: “The risk of the use of nuclear weapons appears to be higher today than at any time since the height of the Cold War.”

Experts predict there will be more nuclear weapons in the world in the next decade.

SIPRI found Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western support for Kyiv has heightened tensions among the world’s nine nuclear-armed states.

While the number of nuclear weapons fell slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, SIPRI said unless immediate action is taken by the world’s nuclear powers, global inventories of warheads could soon begin rising for the first time in decades.

Wilfred Wan, Director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, said in the think-tank’s 2022 yearbook: “All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies.”

“This is a very worrying trend.”

Three days after Russia sent its troops into Ukraine, in what the Kremlin calls a special military operation, President Vladimir Putin put the country’s nuclear deterrent on high alert.

He has also warned countries that stood in Russia’s way of consequences that would be “such as you have never seen in your entire history”.

Russia has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal with a total of 5,977 warheads, believed to be about 550 more than the United States.

The two countries have more than 90 percent of the world’s warheads although SIPRI said China was expanding its arsenal with an estimated 300 new missile silos or more.

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Remaining nuclear-armed states are Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

SIPRI estimates that the UK inventory for last year totals 225. This compares to China’s 350, France’s 290 and North Korea’s 20.

Last year the UK announced it would increase the ceiling on its total warhead stockpile in a reversal of decades of gradual disarmament policies.

While criticising China and Russia for lacking nuclear transparency, Britain also announced it would no longer make public figures for the country’s operational nuclear weapon stockpile, deployed warheads or deployed missiles.

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SIPRI said the global number of nuclear warheads fell to 12,705 in January 2022 from 13,080 in January 2021.

An estimated 3,732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft with about 2,000 – nearly all belonging to Russia or the US – kept in a state of high readiness.

The fall in numbers was due to the dismantling of warheads retired from military service several years ago, according to SIPRI.

It noted that warhead numbers in Russia and the US’s useable military stockpiles remained relatively stable in 2021.

Both countries’ deployed strategic nuclear forces were within limits set by the bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty – 2010 Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms – known as New START).

However, SIPRI observed that New START does not limit total, non-strategic nuclear warhead inventories.

SIPRI board chairman and former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said: “Relations between the world’s great powers have deteriorated further at a time when humanity and the planet face an array of profound and pressing common challenges that can only be addressed by international cooperation.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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