China Making Moves To Rival Nuclear Stockpiles Of The US And Russia

( — The nine nuclear-armed countries worldwide all continued to modernize their nuclear stockpiles in 2023, with the size of China’s arsenal expanding significantly, according to a new report.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2024 SIPRI Yearbook on armaments, disarmament, and international security, the nine nuclear countries—China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK, and the US—continued modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and for the first time, China likely had “a small number of warheads on missiles” on high operational alert.

As of January 2024, the total nuclear stockpile worldwide was estimated to be 12,121, 9,585 of which were in stockpiles for potential use, according to the report.

The United States and Russia still lead the way in the total number of warheads deployed, with 1,770 and 1,710, respectively. The number of stored warheads in Russia outpaces those of the United States, with 2,670 compared to the US’s 1,938.

Between January 2023 and January 2024, the US’s total nuclear stockpile remained unchanged at 3,708. Russia’s total nuclear stockpile fell slightly, from 4,489 in 2023 to 4,380 in 2024.

Meanwhile, China’s total estimated stockpile grew substantially from 410 in January 2023 to 500 in January 2024.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Director Dan Smith said in a June 17 press release that despite the global total continuing to decline as Cold War-era nuclear weapons are retired, there continues to be “year-on-year increases” in the number of deployed nuclear warheads. Smith added that this trend is “likely to continue” and possibly even accelerate in the years ahead.

The institute estimated that about 3,904 nuclear warheads in military stockpiles were deployed on aircraft and missiles as of January 2024, and the majority of those, roughly 2,100, were “in a state of high operational alert on ballistic missiles.”

While nearly all of the nuclear-armed missiles were Russian or American, the institute believes that China also had some nuclear warheads on high operational alert for the first time.

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