SIPRI assesses current state of international disarmament

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released the findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2013 on Monday, a document that assesses the current status of international security, armaments and disarmament.

The document found that world nuclear forces continued their reductions in 2012, mainly as a result of Russia and the U.S. further reducing inventories of strategic nuclear weapons. While four out of five legally recognized nuclear states reduced their nuclear arsenals, all five are deploying or announced programs to deploy new nuclear weapon delivery systems. China was the only one of the five countries that is expanding its nuclear arsenal.

"Once again there was little to inspire hope that the nuclear weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals," Shannon Kile, SIPRI's senior researcher, said. "The long-term modernization programs under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power."

The eight states possessing operational nuclear weapons at the start of 2013 - the U.S., Israel, Pakistan, India, China, France, the U.K. and Russia - had 4,400 operational nuclear weapons between them. Combined, the states possessed approximately 17,265 nuclear weapons, compared with 19,000 at the start of 2012.

The report also found that supporters of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions were unable to persuade any new states to sign or ratify the convention. Cluster munitions are used to disperse multiple smaller munitions, some of which can explode long after dispersion and cause civilian casualties.

"As long as the major producers stay outside the Cluster Munitions Convention, they can argue that cluster munitions remain a 'legitimate' means of waging war and military-industrial product-even if most seem to have acknowledged their potentially grave humanitarian impacts," Lina Grip, an SIPRI researcher, said.

The report also determined that worldwide peacekeeper numbers dropped by more than 10 percent worldwide in 2012 while the Syrian crisis exposed a gap between principles of international protection and action.