Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SIPRI: Nuclear Weapons To Continue Past 2050

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its annual report on military forces around the globe on Monday, which included some alarming information and analysis on nuclear arms control and non-proliferation.

Among their findings, the Swedish organization reports that

At the beginning of 2007, the five nuclear weapon states recognized under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA—possessed a total of more than 26 000 nuclear warheads, including deployed weapons, spares and those in both active and inactive storage. All of these states, with the exception of the UK, had significant nuclear weapon modernization programmes under way. …

Today, there are roughly 1700 tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and 500 tonnes of separated plutonium in the world, sufficient to produce over 100 000 nuclear weapons. Access to these fissile materials is the main technical barrier determining whether a state can acquire nuclear weapons. Russia and the USA possess more than 90 per cent of the fissile materials produced for weapons, but half of the separated plutonium has been produced for civilian purposes. While the five NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states have all stopped producing fissile materials for weapons, India, Pakistan and perhaps Israel and North Korea continue to do so.

“The decisions taken by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council will keep nuclear weapons in their arsenals beyond 2050,” says Ian Anthony, head of SIPRI’s Nonproliferation and Export Control Project.

I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s famous remark: You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

For what should be done, make sure to read the article, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” by the unlikely foursome of George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn if you haven’t already done so.

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