‘Fewer but newer’ nuclear arms in the world: report

The UN Security Council during a meeting on North Korea. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 June 2019

‘Fewer but newer’ nuclear arms in the world: report

  • At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons
  • That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018

STOCKHOLM: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernizing their arsenals, a report published Monday said.
At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.
But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernizing these arms — and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.
“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.
The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it.”
Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.
The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.
While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
There is also a more general trend toward an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.
“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalized,” Kile said.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.
Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.


Indian sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying ‘refused to file review’

Updated 08 July 2020

Indian sentenced to death in Pakistan for spying ‘refused to file review’

  • Former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan in March 2016 and convicted the following year
  • The World Court has ordered Pakistan to review the decision to impose the death penalty in the case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that an Indian man convicted of spying and sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court has refused to file a review petition against the verdict.


Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, where there is a long-running conflict between security forces and separatists. The following year he was convicted of espionage and planning sabotage, and sentenced to death.


India insists Jadhav is innocent, and last year the World Court ordered Pakistan to review the decision to impose the death penalty.


“On June 17, 2020 commander Jadhav was invited to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence and conviction,” said Zahid Hafeez, Pakistan’s director general for South Asia at the ministry, during a joint press conference with Additional Attorney General Ahmad Irfan.


“Pakistan also offered to assist in legal representation for Jadhav. Exercising his legal rights, Cmdr. Jadhav refused to file a petition for review and reconsideration of his sentence. He instead preferred to follow up on his pending mercy petition.”


Hafeez said that Pakistan has repeatedly invited the High Commission of India to file a petition at Islamabad High Court in connection with the death penalty handed to Jadhav, and that he hopes India will cooperate with the Pakistani courts. 
He added that Pakistan has offered consular access to Jadhav for a second time, in addition to a meeting with his wife and father. 
Jadhav’s wife and mother were granted permission to visit him in 2017, eight months after he was sentenced to death.

According to 
Pakistani authorities, Jadhav confessed that he was ordered by India’s intelligence service to carry out espionage and sabotage in Balochistan, a province that is part of the $60 billion, Chinese-backed Belt and Road Initiative, a multinational development project.


In a transcript released by Pakistan of Jadhav’s confession, the former naval officer is quoted as saying the disruption of Chinese-funded projects was a main goal of his activities.