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India ranked 6th as nuclear weapons increased since 2019; US tops: SIPRI’s Yearbook 2020

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India, China increased nuclear weaponsIn accordance with the “51st edition of SIPRI Yearbook 2020-Armaments, Disarmament and International Security” of Swedish think tank, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), from 2019 there is an increase in the nuclear weapons stockpile of India and China. However India’s overall possession of nuclear weapons is less than half of Beijing’s and also slightly lower than what Pakistan possesses.

  • The number of nuclear warheads in the Indian arsenal pegged at 150 in comparison to the 2019 report (on the basis of 2018) when India had 130-140.
  • On the other hand, China’s nuclear arsenal calculated at 320 as compared to 290 of SIPRI’s 2019 report while Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal remained constant at 160 in comparison to 2019’s 150-160.

Importantly, in April 2020, SIPRI had identified India as the 3rd largest military spender in the world, behind the United States (US) and China. 

Following table shows the number of warheads of top rankers (as of January 2020):

Rank Country Nuclear Warheads
1 US 5800*
2 Russia 6375
3 UK 215
6 India 150

*The deployed warheads of the US are more than Russia that is why the former has been placed at 1st rank.

Decrease in global nuclear weapons numbers

-On global front, there has been a decrease in the overall number of nuclear weapons 2019 due to the dominance of Russia and the US. Both nations together possess over 90% of global nuclear weapons after dismantling retired nuclear weapons. 

-There has been also a decrease in the together possession of weapons in the nine nuclear-armed states viz. the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) in the year 2020.

  • All the 9 countries together possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the start of 2020, marking a decrease from the 13,865 nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2019. 

Nations Nuclear Weapon Production on the basis of Material used

The raw material for nuclear weapons is fissile material; either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium. 

  • China, France, Russia, the UK and the US have produced both HEU and plutonium for use in their nuclear weapons. 
  • India and Israel have produced mainly plutonium.
  • Pakistan has produced mainly HEU but is increasing its ability to produce plutonium. 
  • North Korea has produced plutonium for use in nuclear weapons but is believed to be producing HEU for nuclear weapons as well. 

About SIPRI Yearbook 2020:

It presents a combination of original data in areas such as world military expenditure, international arms transfers, arms production, nuclear forces, armed conflicts and multilateral peace operations with state-of-the-art analysis of important aspects of arms control, peace and international security. 

  • It is published by Oxford University Press.

About SIPRI:
Chair– Ambassador Jan Eliasson
Director– Dan Smith
Headquarter– Stockholm, Sweden