India has 2 more nuclear warheads than Pak, China’s stock rises to 500

India had 172 ‘stored’ nuclear warheads in January 2023 compared to Pakistan’s count of 170, said a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

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India is among nine nations that continually update their nuclear armoury, along with the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel

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India has two more nuclear warheads than Pakistan, while China’s stock has increased from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 in January this year, according to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI.



INDIA HAS 172 ‘STORED’ WARHEADS

The report said India had 172 ‘stored’ nuclear warheads in January last year compared to Pakistan’s count of 170. India’s focus is long-range weapons, according to SIPRI’s findings, while both India and Pakistan continue developing new delivery systems.

“While Pakistan remains the main focus of India’s nuclear deterrent, India appears to be placing growing emphasis on longer-range weapons, including those capable of reaching targets throughout China,” the report said.

The report added India is among nine nations that continually update their nuclear armoury along with the United States (US), Russia, the United Kingdom (UK), France, China, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. Most of these nations installed new nuclear-capable weapon systems last year. India, Pakistan and North Korea are attempting to attain the capability to deploy multiple warheads on ballistic missiles just as the US, Russia, the UK, France and China have done.



RUSSIA, US LEAD RACE

Russia or the US own a majority of the 2,100 deployed warheads that are ready on ballistic missiles in a state of high operational alert, states a pertinent data in the report. In other words, these two countries currently own nearly 90 per cent of all nuclear weapons in the world, according to SIPRI data. China, a country that can be expected to keep increasing its nuclear arsenal over the next few years, also has warheads on high alert.

“Around 2,100 of the deployed warheads were kept in a state of high operational alert on ballistic missiles. Nearly all of these warheads belonged to Russia or the US, but for the first time China is believed to have some warheads on high operational alert,” the SIPRI report said.

The world’s nuclear powerhouses Russia and the US maintained a stable arsenal in 2023, though Russia deployed an estimated 36 more warheads with operational force last year, the report said. Post Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that started in February 2022, clarity over nuclear power has dipped while political debates around nuclear strength sharing arrangement have increased, the report added.



CHINA A RISING FORCE

According to the SIPRI report, China could have as many Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) as either Russia or the US by the end of this decade, depending on the nation’s military strategy, although China’s warhead stockpile could be anticipated to be less than that of both these countries.

In January 2024, the global count of nuclear warheads was estimated to be around 12,121. Of these, around 9,585 were ready for potential military use. SIPRI’S findings show 3,904 of those warheads were installed with aircraft and missiles, the number increasing by 60 since January last year.

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