All nine nuclear-armed countries are increasing or upgrading their nuclear arsenals, reversing the decline that was seen after the end of the Cold War, according to the Swedish arms watchdog Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The SIPRI on Monday said while the nuclear weapons' inventory of the United States and Russia declined in 2021, other nuclear states are either developing new weapon systems or have announced intentions to do so.
Besides the United States and Russia, the countries with nuclear weapons are the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Israel has never publicly acknowledged having such weapons.
The decline with the United States and Russia, which told 90 per cent of all the world's nuclear warheads, also comes with a caveat. It's credited to the dismantling of warheads retired from military service years ago. The SIPRI said US and Russian useable military stockpiles remained relatively stable but within the limits set by a nuclear arms reduction treaty.
"There are clear indications that the reductions that have characterised global nuclear arsenals since the end of the Cold War have ended," said Hans M. Kristensen, a researcher with SIPRI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.
"All of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies," said Wilfred Wan, the director of SIPRI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme. "This is a very worrying trend."
(With AP inputs)