India has more nuclear weapons than Pakistan: SIPRI

Watchdog, in its assessment, reveals United States owns the most warheads

Web Desk
A surface-to-surface Agni V missile is displayed during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2013. — Reuters 
  • SIPRI says United States has most warheads.  
  • Russia, US possess 90% of all nuclear weapons.
  • SIPRI urges world leaders to step back and reflect.

STOCKHOLM: India possesses more nuclear weapons than Pakistan in 2024, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's (SIPRI) annual assessment.

The watchdog, in its assessment of the state of armaments, disarmament and international security, revealed United States owns the most warheads, followed by Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

The report also said that amid deteriorating geopolitical relations, the role of nuclear weapons has become more prominent with an increase in their number and types as states deepen their reliance on nuclear deterrence.

It said that the nuclear-armed states continued to modernise their nuclear arsenals and several deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2023.

The research noted that about 9,585 warheads out of 12,121 in January 2024 were in military stockpiles for potential use. Moreover, 3,904 of those warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft — 60 more than in January 2023 while around 2,100 were kept in a state of high operational alert on ballistic missiles.

It added that nearly all of these warheads belonged to Russia or the US but for the first time, China is believed to have some warheads on high operational alert.

Expressing concerns over this trend, SIPRI Director Dan Smith said: "While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to fall as cold war-era weapons are gradually dismantled, regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads."

SIPRI further said that Russia and the US possess almost 90% of all nuclear weapons, adding that both countries have more than 1,200 retired warheads from military service which they are dismantling. It has also estimated that China's nuclear arsenal increased from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 in January 2024.

About UK, it said that its warhead stockpile is expected to grow in the future while France continued its programmes to develop a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and a new air-launched cruise missile, as well as to refurbish and upgrade existing systems.

SIPRI said that India and North Korea are pursuing the capability to deploy multiple warheads on ballistic missiles. It also said that India slightly expanded its nuclear arsenal in 2023.

"India appears to be placing growing emphasis on longer-range weapons, including those capable of reaching targets throughout China," it said, adding that India continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system last year.

It said that North Korea has around 50 warheads and possesses enough fissile material to reach a total of up to 90 warheads, both significant increases over the estimates for January 2023.

Israel is also believed to be modernising its nuclear arsenal and appears to be upgrading its plutonium production reactor site at Dimona.

"We are now in one of the most dangerous periods in human history," said Smith. "There are numerous sources of instability — political rivalries, economic inequalities, ecological disruption, an accelerating arms race. The abyss is beckoning and it is time for the great powers to step back and reflect. Preferably together."