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A 23 kiloton tower shot called BADGER, fired on April 18, 1953 at the Nevada Test Site, as part of the Operation Upshot-Knothole nuclear test series. (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

World Powers Keeping Firm Grip on Nuclear Weapons Arsenals: Report

Despite pledges to disarm, nations in possession of nuclear weapons are modernizing their inventories as some expand their stockpiles

Sarah Lazare

Nations known to possess nuclear weapons are modernizing their arsenals while failing to rapidly cut stockpiles, showing that nuclear weapons remain embedded in military strategies around the world, a new report finds.

Released annually by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the report finds that China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.—the five countries with nuclear arsenals deemed 'legal'—"are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so." Meanwhile, China, India, and Pakistan are actively expanding their nuclear weapons.

At the beginning of 2014, the U.S., U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea possessed a combined total of 16,300 nuclear weapons.

This is a reduction from the 17,270 at the beginning of 2013, thanks largely to cuts by Russia and the U.S., which together own 93 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. Yet "the pace of reductions appears to be slowing compared with a decade ago," note authors Shannon Kile and Phillip Schell.

Furthermore, the fact that these reductions occur alongside the ongoing modernization of weapons stockpiles shows that "none of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are prepared to give up their nuclear arsenals for the foreseeable future," according to a press statement about the report.

The U.S. has a stunning 7,300 nuclear warheads, the report shows.

While the Israeli government has never publicly admitted to owning nuclear weapons, report data shows that Israel is illegally in possession of 80 nuclear warheads, making it the only nuclear weapon state in the Middle East.

The report notably does not include Iran among the the list of nuclear weapon states.

This data shows that nuclear weapons remain endemic to militaries across the globe, despite international agreements to disarm, including the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are not currently signatories to.

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