India’s growing nuclear arsenal outpaces Pakistan amid China buildup

India has surpassed Pakistan in the size of its nuclear arsenal, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The report found that India now possesses 172 nuclear warheads, two more than Pakistan’s 170.

This development comes as India shifts its nuclear focus increasingly towards its northern neighbor China. While Pakistan has traditionally been the main target of India’s nuclear deterrent, the report notes that “India appears to be placing growing emphasis on longer-range weapons, including those capable of reaching targets throughout China.”

China, for its part, has been rapidly expanding its own nuclear capabilities, increasing its stockpile from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 by January 2024 – a rate of growth faster than any other nuclear-armed state. The report states that depending on how China structures its forces, it could potentially have as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as Russia or the US by the end of the decade.

This nuclear buildup comes amid heightened geopolitical tensions, with the report warning that the world is “in one of the most dangerous periods in human history, with numerous sources of instability.” All nine nuclear-armed states – the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – continued to modernize and expand their nuclear forces in 2023.

While the global number of nuclear warheads has declined as Cold War-era weapons are dismantled, the number of warheads in military stockpiles and on high operational alert has increased. An estimated 3,904 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft as of January 2024, up from 3,844 the previous year.

Experts warn that the trend towards greater nuclear capabilities and lower transparency is deeply concerning. “We are now in one of the most dangerous periods in human history, with numerous sources of instability,” said SIPRI Director Dan Smith. As India, China and other nuclear powers continue to modernize and expand their arsenals, the risk of miscalculation and conflict only grows.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More