China, India and Pakistan have increased their nuclear arsenals over the last year, a Swedish-based peace research institute has said. The world's main powers, meanwhile, are making little or no cuts to their supplies.
China now has 250 nuclear warheads, compared to 240 in 2012, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Sunday in its annual report, adding that the country is "highly non-transparent" when it comes to its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan increased its number by 10 to between 100 and 120 and India has also added around 10 for a rough total of 90 to 100, the institute said.
That growth is part of what SIPRI calls a "fragile" peace in Asia characterized by escalating 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.
Little change from major powers
There are 17,265 nuclear warheads that are active, in storage or ready to be dismantled, SIPRI said. There has been a decrease of around 1,700 warheads compared to 2011, mainly due to cuts by Russia and the US. Russia has reduced its numbers from 10,000 to 8,500 while the US has cut back from 8,000 to 7,700.
France maintained its arsenal at 300 warheads, while Britain stayed at 225 and Israel at 80. North Korea and Iran are not counted as nuclear powers because their programs are still considered to be in their early stages.
Information regarding the nuclear arsenals of Israel, India and Pakistan was especially difficult to obtain, the institute said.
SIPRI said programs from the world's main nuclear powers that were planned or already underway include modernizing warheads and delivery systems including aircraft, submarines and missiles.
"Once again there was little to inspire the hope that the nuclear weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals," SIPRI senior researcher Shannon Kile said.
Only slight changes reported
Efforts to reduce the number of cluster weapons were relatively unfruitful. Cluster weapons are launched from the air or via artillery shells and disperse hundreds of small bombs over a small area and thus pose an especially dangerous threat to civilians. Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Israel, Russia, South Korea and the US are the world's main producers of the weapons.
The institute also said that the US and Russia had not destroyed all of their chemical weapons in 2012 as promised.
The number of peacekeepers deployed worldwide decreased by 10 percent in 2012, SIPRI said. That drop was reflected in part by the beginning of the international forces withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The institute also reported its first drop in global arms spending since 1998, with a decrease of 0.5 percent in 2012. Some 1.75 trillion dollars were spent by governments in 2012, with the US again topping the list. Although the US did record a slight drop, the country still spends more than the next 10 highest-spending nations combined.
dr/lw (AFP, dpa, AP)