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International Relations

'Fewer but Newer' Nuclear Arms: SIPRI

  • 18 Jun 2019
  • 4 min read

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has reported that the world is witnessing less nuclear arms but with modernising and increasing size.

  • At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons with a decrease of 600 from previous year.
  • The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.
    • It is partly a result of the New START treaty – that was signed between the United States and the Russian Federation in 2010 which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
    • There is a concern on the future of treaty as it will expire in 2021 and there is no serious discussion on its extension.
  • The Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has also played a vital role in controlling proliferation of nuclear arms.
    • Because of the NPT, the number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.
  • This decrease in number of nuclear arms is observed with modernisation of nuclear arms coupled with increasing size of arms especially by China, India, and Pakistan.
  • The report has shown worry over the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
  • Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February, 2019 that it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.
    • Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 to eliminate and permanently forgo all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

  • The SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • Established in 1966 at Stockholm, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

  • The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is:
    • to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology,
    • to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,
    • and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament.
  • The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.
  • Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970.
  • A total of 191 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States.
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