Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Nuclear Arms Seen Falling in Number, Increasing in Sophistication
The world's nuclear-armed states are adopting increasingly advanced atomic armaments and do not appear to be moving toward nuclear abolition, though the total quantity of such weapon systems has fallen internationally, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in an annual report published on Monday (see GSN, June 7, 2011).
The document indicates that eight nations -- China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- together held roughly 19,000 nuclear warheads as of the beginning of 2012, a decrease of 1,530 weapons over the preceding 12 months. The latest count included 2,000 weapons ready for use on short notice.
"The decrease is due mainly to Russia and the USA further reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons under the terms of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) as well as retiring ageing and obsolescent weapons," according to the organization (see related GSN story, today).
The formal nuclear powers are acquiring more modern launch vehicles or have already achieved the step, the analysis says.
"In spite of the world's revived interest in disarmament efforts, none of the nuclear weapon-possessing states shows more than a rhetorical willingness to give up their nuclear arsenals just yet," SIPRI analyst Shannon Kile added in provided comments.
"While the overall number of nuclear warheads may be decreasing, the long-term modernization programs under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a currency of international status and power," Kile said (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute release, June 4).
Meanwhile, “the unresolved Iranian and Syrian nuclear controversies raised further doubt about the efficacy of international legal approaches, in particular the role of the U.N. Security Council, in dealing with suspected or known cases of states violating important arms control treaty obligations and norms," Agence France-Presse quoted the organization as stating.
A group of six major governments has this year held two rounds of talks with Iran over that nation's atomic activities, which Washington and other capitals fear is intended to produce a nuclear-weapon capability. Tehran says it nuclear program is strictly civilian in nature (see related GSN story, today).
Another meeting is set for this month in Moscow.
"The main question now is whether the current negotiations between Iran and the P-5+1 states (U.N. Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. plus Germany) will yield concrete results,” Kile said to AFP. “The prospects for reaching a negotiated settlement remain unclear, with both sides engaged in political gamesmanship,” he stated.
The Security Council "has shown no willingness" to address concerns about secret Syrian nuclear operations, according to Kile (see GSN, March 5). Israel in 2007 destroyed a structure believed to house an unfinished nuclear reactor; Damascus says the site was a military facility not involved in atomic work.
North Korea appears to have produced about 66 pounds of plutonium, which could power eight nuclear bombs “depending on North Korea’s design and engineering skills," according to the SIPRI report. While Pyongyang has for a number of years, if not decades, sought to enrich uranium “it is not known whether North Korea has produced highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons,” the report adds (see related GSN story, today; Agence France-Presse/al-Arabiya, June 4).
Building Mutual Security in the Euro-Atlantic Region: Report Prepared for Presidents, Prime Ministers, Parliamentarians, and Publics
April 3, 2013
This report is the result of a Track II dialogue including distinguished former senior political leaders, senior military officers, defence officials, and security experts from Europe, Russia, and the United States.
April 2, 2013
An op-ed in The International Herald Tribune urging today's leaders to move decisively and permanently toward a new security strategy in the Euro-Atlantic region.
This article provides an overview of France’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.