Annual assessment of worldwide nuclear stockpiles released

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday its annual nuclear forces report.

The report, which assesses current trends and developments in nuclear arsenals globally, found that while overall numbers of nuclear weapons declined since last year, modernization of those weapons continued.

SIPRI counted approximately 16,300 nuclear warheads worldwide at the start of 2014, down from 17,270 in early 2013. The reduction represents a continuing downward trend, due mainly to Russia and the U.S. continuing to reduce their stockpiles under the Treaty on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.

SIPRI said, however, that all five legally recognized nuclear weapons states are deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have plans to do so. India and Pakistan, which are not legally recognized, continue to develop new delivery systems and are expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for more nuclear weapons.

There is also a growing consensus in the analyst community that North Korea has produced a small number of nuclear weapons, which are distinct from rudimentary nuclear explosive devices.

The five legally recognized nuclear weapons states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Russia and the U.S. account for 93 percent of all nuclear weapons globally.