Nuclear threat still high despite weapons cuts, report says

More than 5,000 nuclear weapons are deployed around the world, and nuclear powers continue developing new programs to enhance their potential, undermining ongoing disarmament efforts, a report published on Tuesday said.

The eight nuclear powers – Russia, the United States, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel – possess more than 20,500 nuclear weapons, the report shows.

“More than 5000 of these nuclear weapons are deployed and ready for use, including nearly 2,000 that are kept in a state of high operational alert,” according to the report, published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

As of January 2011, Russia had 11,000 nuclear weapons, including 2,427 deployed, while the United States had 8,500, including 2,150 deployed, the report says.

In April 2010, Russia and the United States signed a New START treaty replacing the expired START 1 agreement, which slashes the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads.

The report describes the cuts stipulated in the agreement as “modest,” adding that “both countries currently are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programs to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals for the indefinite future.”

“It’s a stretch to say that the New START cuts agreed by the USA and Russia are a genuine step towards nuclear disarmament when their planning for nuclear forces is done on a time scale that encompasses decades and when nuclear modernization is a major priority of their defense policies,” SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile was quoted on the organization’s website as saying.

The report also states that “India and Pakistan continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons” and are also “expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes.”

The study also argues that Israeli possesses 80 nuclear warheads, although the country has always denied that it has any.

SIPRI is an independent international institution that is half funded by the Swedish state.

STOCKHOLM, June 7 (RIA Novosti) 

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