Military parade in India (January 2012)
Photo: Saurabh Das / AP
There are currently an estimated 13,080 nuclear weapons around the world.
That is around 320 fewer than a year ago - but the number of warheads stationed with troops has increased.
This is the result of the Stockholm peace research institute Sipri in its annual report 2021.
At the beginning of 2020, 3720 nuclear weapons were stationed with armed forces, this year there are 3825. Almost 2000 of these weapons are therefore in a state of high, i.e. also short-term, operational readiness;
almost all of them belong to Russia or the USA.
The weapons are modernized
Together, according to Sipri, the two powers have more than 90 percent of all nuclear weapons in the world.
The researchers base their estimates on publicly available sources such as documents and communications from ministries, as well as budget plans and reports.
According to the report, both Russia and the US have launched "comprehensive programs" to modernize their warheads, missiles, aircraft and production facilities.
According to the authors of the annual report, both states have further reduced their overall arsenal by dismantling discarded warheads.
However, Russia and the USA had each stationed around 50 more nuclear warheads by the beginning of the year.
Sipri researcher Hans M. Kristensen sees the latest developments as a cause for concern.
The downward trend in the size of the nuclear arsenals that has been observed since the end of the Cold War may now stall.
According to Kristensen, the extension of the New Start contract by the USA and Russia at the beginning of the year provided some relief.
"But the prospects for further bilateral nuclear weapons control between the nuclear superpowers remain bad," says the researcher.
Rather, it can be observed that nuclear weapons are playing an increasingly important role in the strategic deliberations of the two states.
Other nuclear powers are also investing in new weapon systems
The other seven states that have nuclear weapons are also developing or deploying new weapon systems, or have announced their intention to do so, according to the report.
In addition to Russia and the USA, these include Great Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
At the beginning of the year, Britain turned away from a policy aimed at reducing its nuclear arsenal, the report said.
Instead, the country has raised its nuclear weapons limit, from 180 to 260. It is currently estimated to have 225 nuclear weapons, compared to 215 last year.
China is also in a phase of "significant modernization and expansion of its nuclear weapons stocks," the report's authors write.
At the beginning of the year, the country had 350 warheads - 30 more than last year.
India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their arsenals.
In contrast, according to Sipri, there were no significant changes in the holdings of France and Israel.
For North Korea, the researchers point to an extremely uncertain data situation. The country's nuclear weapons program is considered extremely opaque. The researchers assume 40 to 50 nuclear weapons.