Nuclear arsenals of China, India, Pakistan increasing

AFP-JIJI

Three of the world’s nuclear powers — China, India and Pakistan — have increased their atomic arsenals over the past year, while the other five have slashed or kept stable their stockpiles, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Monday.

China now has 250 nuclear warheads against 240 in 2012, Pakistan has boosted its total number of warheads by about 10 to between 100 and 120 and India has also added roughly 10 for a total of 90 to 110, SIPRI said in its annual report.

According to SIPRI, the arms race is all the more disturbing because of what the institute called a “fragile” peace in Asia, characterized by growing tensions since 2008 between India and Pakistan, China and Japan, and the two Koreas, among others.

“While states have avoided direct conflict with each other and have stopped supporting insurgent movements on each other’s territory, decades-old suspicions linger and economic integration has not been followed up with political integration,” SIPRI said.

Only onetime rivals Russia and the U.S. have trimmed back their numbers, with Moscow reducing its arsenal from 10,000 to 8,500, and Washington scaling back its stockpile from 8,000 to 7,700.

The total warheads controlled by France stayed at 300, while Britain’s remained at 225, and Israel is believed to possess 80.

SIPRI acknowledged that the figures were to a large extent estimates, as the nuclear powers are not equally transparent.

SIPRI does not count North Korea and Iran as nuclear powers yet, as their respective programs are still considered to be in the early stages.

Efforts to reduce arsenals of chemical and biological weapons have also been slow, according to SIPRI. The U.S. and Russia did not destroy all their chemical weapons in 2012, as promised, and Syria has said it is prepared to use its own chemical arms in the event of foreign attack.