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India Surpasses Pakistan in Nuclear Arsenal Growth Amidst China’s Expansion: SIPRI Report 2024

In a significant development, India has surpassed Pakistan in nuclear arsenal growth, according to the latest findings from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

As of January 2024, India’s stockpile of “stored” nuclear warheads stands at 172, slightly edging past Pakistan’s 170 warheads. This shift underscores India’s ongoing strategic investments in its nuclear capabilities.

Meanwhile, China has made substantial strides in expanding its nuclear arsenal, increasing from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 by January 2024. This growth highlights China’s continued commitment to enhancing its nuclear deterrence capabilities on the global stage.

The SIPRI report further details that nine nuclear-armed nations, including the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, are actively modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Throughout 2023, these countries deployed new nuclear-capable weapon systems and continued to develop advanced nuclear delivery technologies.

India’s strategic focus appears to be shifting towards longer-range nuclear weapons capable of targeting deeper into China, signaling evolving defense priorities amidst regional dynamics. Meanwhile, Pakistan remains the primary focus of India’s nuclear deterrence strategy, with both nations engaged in efforts to bolster their respective nuclear capabilities.

The report also notes that a significant number of deployed nuclear warheads—approximately 2,100—are maintained at a high operational alert status, with Russia and the US accounting for the majority. Notably, China has recently joined this category, indicating a heightened state of readiness in its nuclear forces.

Despite these developments, Russia and the US continue to possess the largest nuclear arsenals globally, collectively holding nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. China’s nuclear stockpile, while expanding, remains smaller compared to these two major nuclear powers.

Nuclear Dynamics 2024: Key Takeaways from SIPRI Report

  1. China’s Nuclear Expansion:
    • China increased its nuclear arsenal from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 by January 2024, signaling significant growth.
  2. Steady Numbers for India and Pakistan:
    • India slightly expanded its nuclear arsenal, reaching 172 warheads, while Pakistan maintained 170 warheads throughout 2023.
  3. Global Modernization Efforts:
    • Nine nuclear-armed nations, including the US, Russia, and others, are actively modernizing their arsenals with new weapon systems.
  4. Strategic Shifts in India:
    • India is focusing on longer-range nuclear weapons capable of targeting deep within China, indicating evolving strategic priorities.
  5. Operational Alert Status:
    • Approximately 2,100 deployed warheads are on high operational alert, predominantly controlled by Russia and the US, with China newly entering this category.
  6. Dominance of Russia and the US:
    • Together, Russia and the US possess nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons, maintaining the largest arsenals globally.
  7. Broader Global Trends:
    • The report highlights ongoing trends in nuclear arms control, emphasizing the strategic importance of nuclear deterrence policies.
  8. Future Projections:
    • China’s nuclear capabilities are expected to continue growing, albeit remaining smaller in comparison to Russia and the US.

The SIPRI report highlights the evolving dynamics of global nuclear arms control and the strategic imperative for maintaining nuclear deterrence policies among major geopolitical players.

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