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Nuclear weapons threat not decreasing: Study

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 10:32

Stockholm: More than 5,000 nuclear weapons
are deployed around the world and nuclear powers continue
investing in new weapon systems, making meaningful disarmament
in the near future unlikely, a report said.

"More than 5,000 nuclear weapons are deployed and
ready for use, including nearly 2,000 that are kept in a high
state of alert," according to a report by the Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

SIPRI`s report said the world`s eight nuclear powers
-- Britain, China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and
the US -- possess more than 20,500 warheads.

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

The US and Russia have signed a Strategic Arms
Reduction Treaty (START) that calls for a maximum of 1,550
warheads deployed per country.

However SIPRI argued that prospects for meaningful
disarmament in the short term are grim as all eight countries
seem committed to either improving or maintaining their
nuclear programmes.

"The five legally recognised nuclear weapons states,
as defined by the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty are either
deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their
intention to do so," the report said, referring to Britain,
China, France, Russia and the US.

India and Pakistan are "expanding their capacity to
produce fissile material for military purposes," according to
the report.

> SIPRI Director Daniel Nord said south Asia, where
relations between India and Pakistan seem perpetually tense,
is "the only place in the world where you have a nuclear
weapons arms race."

While Israel, which has never conclusively declared
itself a nuclear weapons state but is almost universally
assumed to be one, "appears to be waiting to assess how the
situation with Iran`s nuclear programme develops," SIPRI said.

Nord argued that because "nuclear weapons states are
modernising and are investing in their nuclear weapons
establishments (it) seems unlikely that there will be any real
nuclear weapon disarmament within the forseeable future."

The report said that North Korea "is believed to have
produced enough plutonium to build a small number of nuclear
warheads, but there is no public information to verify that it
has operational nuclear weapons."

Nord identified Pakistan "losing control of part of
its nuclear arsenal" to a terrorist group as a specific
concern. He also voiced worry over the potential consequences
if "Israel or the US decide that they will have to intervene
and do something about the programme in Iran."

Iran has repeatedly insisted that its nuclear
programme is non-military, but several world powers have
demanded closer international inspection of Iran`s nuclear
sites to verify the claim.


First Published: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 10:32
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