This is according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Swedish peace study-focused think tank. According to SIPRI's estimates, the world's nine nuclear-armed states – China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – deployed an additional 86 nuclear warheads over the past year.
This brings the total number of active nuclear weapons in the world to 9,576. When including nuclear weapons held in reserve, that number goes up to 12,512. (Related: Global military spending hits record-high $2.24 trillion amid ongoing conflict in Ukraine, heightened tension in Taiwan.)
"Most of the nuclear-armed states are hardening their rhetoric about the importance of nuclear weapons, and some are even issuing explicit or implicit threats about potentially using them," said SIPRI associate researcher Matt Korda. "This elevated nuclear competition has dramatically increased the risk that nuclear weapons might be used in anger for the first time since World War II."
Russia and the U.S. remain the world's largest owners of nuclear weaponry. Together, they possess almost 90 percent of all nuclear weapons. The size of their respective nuclear arsenals remained relatively stable in 2022, although there is a level of uncertainty here as transparency regarding nuclear forces declined in both countries.
The deployed nuclear weapons of the U.S., the U.K., France and Israel did not change. Russia's stockpile grew by 12 from 477 in January 2022 to 489 the next year. India added four new nuclear warheads to its stockpile of 164 and Pakistan's grew by five to 170. North Korea also added five more warheads, bringing its own relatively meager deployment up to 30 active nuclear weapons.
Most new nuclear weapons deployed came from China. SIPRI estimated that the communist nation's nuclear arsenal expanded from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 warheads in January 2023, and it is expected to keep growing.
The People's Liberation Army could be restructuring itself to be at nuclear parity with either the U.S. or Russia in terms of the number of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles in its arsenal by the end of the decade.
"China has started a significant expansion of its nuclear arsenal," said Hans M. Kristensen, a senior fellow with SIPRI. "It is increasingly difficult to square this trend with China's declared aim of having only the minimum nuclear forces needed to maintain national security."
It should also be noted that SIPRI believes the number of nuclear warheads deployed by nuclear-armed nations is likely underreported. Russia and the U.S. are no longer as transparent about their nuclear deployments. In 2021, the British government said it would no longer publicly disclose its quantities of nuclear weapons, but it did announce that year that it will increase the limit on its arsenal from 225 to 260 deployed warheads.
Most, if not all, the other nuclear-armed nations continue to remain very secretive about their nuclear deployments. Israel, for example, continues to not publicly acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons, and its status as a nuclear-armed nation remains an unconfirmed open secret.
"In this period of high geopolitical tension and mistrust, with communication channels between nuclear-armed rivals closed or barely functioning, the risks of miscalculation, misunderstanding or accident are unacceptably high," warned SIPRI Director Dan Smith. "There is an urgent need to restore nuclear diplomacy and strengthen international controls on nuclear arms."
Learn more bout the expansion of nuclear arsenals across the world at NuclearWeapons.news.
Watch this episode of "Brighteon Broadcast News" as Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, warns about how President Joe Biden is provoking a nuclear war.