China Boosts Nuclear Stockpile, Has 410 Warheads Currently, Says SIPRI

Chin is increasing the number of its nuclear warheads at a fast pace, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has said in its latest report. China has as many as 350 warheads at the start of 2022, and this has increased to 410 warheads at the start of 2023, the SIPRI report said. The bulk of the global rise in the number of nuclear stockpile came from China, the report adds.

"We are approaching, or maybe have already reached, the end of a long period of the number of nuclear weapons worldwide declining SIPRI director Dan Smith told the Agence France-Presse, adding that the world is drifting into one of the 'most dangerous periods in human history'.

China Nuclear Missile
China's nuclear missiles on display YouTube Grab

12,512 Nuclear Warheads Globally

Globally, there are now an estimated 12,512 nuclear warheads held by the nine nuclear powers. Among this some 9,576 are in military stockpiles and ready for use in war. This represents an increase of 86 warheads from a year ago. "The stockpile is the usable nuclear warheads, and those numbers are beginning to tick up," Smith said.

According to SIPRI, out of the 12,512 warheads in the world, some 3,844 are deployed with missiles and aircraft.

China at the Top

While China increased the number of stockpiles the most, the other countries that raised the number of their nuclear warheads are Russia (12), Pakistan (five), North Korea (five) and India (four). "What we're seeing is China stepping up as a world power, that is the reality of our time," the SIPRI director said.

China Nuclear Missile
China plans to expand its nuclear warheads by up to 200 YouTube Grab

Almost 90 percent of the nuclear warheads in the world are currently held by Russia and the United States. According to the report, Russia's nuclear warheads grew from 4,477 in 2022 to 4,489 in 2023. The US holds more than 3,700 nuclear warheads currently. However, the current number of global nuclear stockpiles is way lower than the 70,000 warheads witnessed in the 1980s.

"China has started a significant expansion of its nuclear arsenal. It is increasingly difficult to square this trend with China's declared aim of having only the minimum nuclear forces needed to maintain its national security," said Hans M Kristensen, a senior fellow with Sipri's weapons of mass destruction programme, according to the Guardian.

Pentagon Report

The Pentagon said in November last year that China will possibly have more nuclear warheads than the US by 2035. If Beijing continues with the current pace of amassing nuclear weapons, it will have nearly a 1,500- strong stockpile in a little more than a decade, according to the US defense department's estimates. "They've got a rapid buildup that is kind of too substantial to keep under wraps .... It does raise questions about whether they're kind of shifting away from a strategy that was premised on what they referred to as a lean and effective deterrent," a senior US defense official said.

Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping called food waste shameful as he aims to pass the new law Wikimedia Commons

Less than three years ago, China was estimated to have about 200 nuclear warheads and the US expected Beijing to double that number by 2030. However, the US defense strategists concluded last year that China has already surpassed that milestone. Currently, the expectation is that China will have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030.

China's Aggression

Under leader Xi Jinping China has been focused on increasing its military might. Xi said during the recently concluded Communist Party Congress that Beijing is determined to strengthen its strategic deterrent, a term that plainly means nuclear capability. In 2021, the Pentagon said China was building new nuclear silos in secret locations. "This is the second time in two months the public has discovered what we have been saying all along about the growing threat the world faces and the veil of secrecy that surrounds it," the U.S. Strategic Command said.