The world’s nuclear weapons are on high operational alert – ready to strike global issues


Euratom inspectors conduct safeguards inspections at URENCO, The Netherlands. Credit: IAEA / Dean Kalma
  • by Thalif Deen (United nations)
  • Interpress service
  • On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons last September, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the need to “reverse course and return to a common path of nuclear disarmament.”

As a result, the world is increasingly within walking distance of nuclear weapons – either by accident or on purpose.

The region most at risk is Asia, which includes four of the world’s nine nuclear powers, namely India, Pakistan, China and North Korea, and the rest are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Israel.

The study says that the nine countries collectively possessed an estimated 13080 Nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2021.

This was down from the 13,400 that SIPRI estimated these countries had at the start of 2020, given that some of these weapons have been retired.

But despite this overall decrease, the estimated number of nuclear weapons currently deployed with operational forces has risen to 3825, from 3,720 last year.

About 2,000 of those—almost all of them belong to Russia or the United States—were kept on high operational alert ready to strike.

Global nuclear powers, January 2021

while the we And the Russia They continued to reduce their overall stockpile of nuclear weapons by dismantling retired warheads in 2020, and both are estimated to have about 50 additional nuclear warheads in operational deployment at the beginning of 2021 compared to the previous year.

Russia has also increased its total military nuclear stockpile by about 180 warheads, mainly due to the deployment of more ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

The strategic nuclear forces deployed by both countries have remained within the limits established by the 2010 Treaty on Measures to Increase the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), although the treaty does not limit total nuclear warhead stockpiles, according to the SIPRI Institute.

Meanwhile, a new report released last week by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), warns that nuclear-armed states spent $72.6 billion on their nuclear weapons — even as the pandemic spreads in 2020, an increase of 1.4 billion. dollars from 2019.

the report, Accomplice: Global Spending on Nuclear Weapons for 2020, shows how during the pandemic, which has had devastating health and economic consequences last year, governments have been increasingly directing tax money to defense contractors, which in turn has increased amounts to lobbyists and think tanks to encourage a continued increase in spending.

Of the $72.6 billion that nations spent on nuclear weapons in 2020 globally, $27.7 billion went to fewer than ten defense contractors to build nuclear weapons, which in turn spent $117 million lobbying and over $10 million to fund most of the major research centers that are building nuclear weapons. You write about nuclear energy. arms.

“The climate and Covid emergencies are showing us what we really need for our security and safety as human beings, and they are not nuclear weapons,” said Dr Rebecca Johnson of the UK-based Acronim Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy (AIDD). ICAN Steering Group.

“The UN system is struggling because its efforts to build cooperative peace and security are constantly undermined and stifled by aggressive nation-states. Most people can see that we need cooperation and participation to solve global challenges, from vaccines to sustainable resources,” she told IPS.

Dr Johnson said that a minority of governments with nuclear dependencies and military economies create the greatest risks for all.

“With their aggressive stance, new types of weapons and corrupt selling practices, they are arming competitors, fueling insecurity and wars, and undermining international security, law and human rights,” she warned.

“With the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entering into force this year, it comes as no surprise to see some governments step back with additional bells and whistles about their pointless and unsafe nuclear weapons.”

She said privileged governments with vested interests have engaged in similar angry reprisals when faced with other international treaties that impose much-needed legal restrictions.

Professor MV Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament and Global and Human Security and Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, told IPS that the ICANN report documents the power of political control exercised by companies involved in arms production. nuclear and its maintenance.

He said that these companies benefit greatly from their involvement in making these weapons of mass destruction and use a portion of those profits to lobby to shape decision-making in ways that enhance their profits, removing any semblance of democracy in the field. .

“The persistence of such actions during a global pandemic is appalling, and it exposes the completely misguided priorities of these nuclear weapon states and their allies,” said Dr. Ramana. Research fellow at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study.

According to details provided by ICAN on global spending on nuclear weapons, the United States tops the list:

  1. United States: $37.4 billion
  2. China: $10.1 billion
  3. Russia: $8 billion
  4. United Kingdom: $6.2 billion
  5. France: $5.7 billion
  6. India: $2.4 billion
  7. Pakistan: $1 billion
  8. North Korea: $667 million

The top 5 companies that have benefited from nuclear weapons contracts are:

  1. Northrop Grumman ($13.6 billion)
  2. General Dynamics ($10.8 billion)
  3. Lockheed Martin ($2 billion)
  4. Raytheon Technologies ($449.5 million)
  5. Draper ($342 million)

Dr Johnson said that stigmatizing and banning nuclear weapons not only affects the profits of military industrial companies, but also affects the lives of many bureaucrats, academics and politicians who for decades have encouraged spending taxpayer money on these weapons of mass destruction rather than investing more. in health, education, peacebuilding relations and environmentally friendly technologies in their countries.

“Like all peace and security goals, nuclear disarmament is not a one-time project, but a transformative process that must be built and maintained throughout our lives.”

She said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons puts UN bodies and activists in a stronger position with regard to international standards and laws, but as it will appear when the states parties hold their first meeting in 2022, we have a lot of work to do to build vital institutions. humanitarian infrastructure and verification in order for the Treaty to become globally effective.”

“Nuclear weapons still have the potential to cause significant harm, so these moribund kicks of nuclear colonialism must be stopped. In Britain, many are now promoting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons during the ‘Nurses Are Not Nuclear Weapons’ campaign and accuse the Boris Johnson government of violating the ‘Nurses Are Not Nuclear Weapons’ campaign. NPT commitments to recent policies that increase the role and numbers of nuclear weapons in the UK.

The latest ICANN “complicit” nuclear spending report deals with another dimension in which civil society can exert very effective lobbying. ICANN exposes not only the huge financial costs of nuclear-armed governments (and thus people), but also the names of some of the military industry’s major beneficiaries and academic bureaucrats.”

Naming names is important, she said, as civil society continues to lift the lids and expose the corrupt relationships and dependency that have kept nuclear weapons in business since 1945.

Thalevuddin is a former Director of Foreign Military Markets at Defense Marketing Services. Senior Defense Analyst at Forecast International; and Military Editor for the Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group. He is also the co-author of “How to Survive a Nuclear Disaster” (New Century, 1981).

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service


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