Nuclear Weapons Modernization: A Threat to the NPT?

The world’s nine nuclear-armed states still possess more than 10,000 nuclear warheads combined, of which more than 90 percent are in Russian and U.S. stockpiles. In addition to these stockpiled warheads, those two countries possess thousands of additional nuclear warheads. These warheads, retired but still relatively intact, are in storage awaiting dismantlement. Counting both categories of nuclear warheads, the world’s total combined inventory includes an estimated 17,000 nuclear warheads. In 1968, the five declared nuclear-weapon states pledged under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue negotiations to cease production of nuclear arms, all of the world’s nuclear weapon states are busy modernizing their arsenals, and by doing so, continue to reaffirm the importance of such weapons.

In an article published in Arms Control Today, Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project, examines the modernization programs underway in the nine nuclear countries, and finds that none of the countries appear to be planning to eliminate its nuclear weapons program; instead they are committing billions of dollars to modernize their nuclear forces. Without some form of limitations on the pace and scope of nuclear modernization, the goals of deep cuts and elimination of nuclear weapons remains elusive and unlikely with modernization programs that reaffirm the value of these weapons.

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