US, Russia, UK, France, China, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at 2020 begining, Swedish peace research institute says.
Israel is believed to possess between 80 and 90 nuclear warheads, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday, adding however, the true number of Israeli nuclear weapons remains a closely guarded secret.
In a report, SIPRI said Israel continues to pursue a policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear programme.
It said that the number of nuclear warheads in Israel rose to 90, up from 80 warheads in 2019.
In 2015, the Washington DC-based Institute for Science and International Security said that Israel has produced 115 nuclear warheads since it began making them in 1963.
"Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal," the report said.
Nine states possess 13,000 nukes
"The nine nuclear-armed states — the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea — together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the start of 2020," the Sweden-based research institute said.
At the beginning of 2019, all the nuclear states possessed 13,865 nuclear weapons.
"Around 3,720 of the nuclear weapons are currently deployed with operational forces and nearly 1,800 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert," the report said.
The research institute attributed the decrease in the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world in 2019 "largely due to the dismantlement of retired nuclear weapons by Russia and the USA" — which together still possess over 90 per cent of global nuclear weapons.
States modernising arsenals
Despite decrease in number of nuclear weapons in 2019, SIPRI said, nuclear weapon-possessing states continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals.
It said Russia and the USA have extensive and expensive programmes under way to replace and modernise their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities.
"Both countries have also given new or expanded roles to nuclear weapons in their military plans and doctrines, which marks a significant reversal of the post-cold war trend towards the gradual marginalisation of nuclear weapons."
'New arms race'
Shannon Kile, Director of SIPRI's Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme said the deadlock over New START and the collapse of the 1987 Soviet–US Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles in 2019 "suggest that the era of bilateral nuclear arms control agreements between Russia and the USA might be coming to an end."
"The loss of key channels of communication between Russia and the US that were intended to promote transparency and prevent misperceptions about their respective nuclear force postures and capabilities could potentially lead to a new nuclear arms race."