Peace researchers warn of another nuclear arms race. The number of nuclear warheads worldwide has continued to decrease, the Sipri peace research institute said on Monday in Stockholm. However, it can be expected that the stocks will increase again in the next ten years. At the same time, the nine nuclear powers are continuously modernizing and expanding their arsenals. Sipri researcher Wilfred Wan spoke of an “alarming trend”.

Now the peace researchers speak of “mixed signals” in nuclear diplomacy. In January 2021, the UN Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons came into force, which was signed by 86 states and ratified by 61 countries by May. However, nuclear powers such as the USA, Russia, China, France and Great Britain, which are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, reject the agreement. Critics have long warned that the USA, for example, is relying on so-called “mini-nukes” with lower explosive power, which can be used in a more targeted manner but are just as destructive.

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The bilateral talks between Russia and the United States have stalled because of the Ukraine war, the peace researchers said. Russia even openly threatened the possible use of nuclear weapons. None of the other nuclear weapons states are conducting arms control negotiations either. “The risk of using nuclear weapons now appears higher than at any time since the height of the Cold War,” said institute director Dan Smith. According to Sipri, the seven other nuclear powers have significantly smaller arsenals. But they are still in the process of modernizing or expanding them.

According to Sipri, for example, China is expanding its arsenal – satellite images showed the construction of more than 300 new missile silos. Britain had announced in 2021 that it would increase the cap on its total stockpile of warheads. While the country criticized China and Russia for a lack of transparency, it announced that it would no longer disclose figures about its own holdings. France, meanwhile, launched a program to develop third-generation strategic ballistic missile nuclear submarines in February 2021. (epd)