India, Pakistan, China boost nuclear arsenals in 2012: SIPRI

India, Pakistan, China boost nuclear arsenals in 2012: SIPRI

India, Pakistan and China have expanded their nuclear arsenals over the past year, a study said today against the backdrop of what it called a "fragile" peace in Asia.

India has added roughly 10 nuclear warheads for a total of 90 to 110 in 2012; Pakistan has increased its warheads by about 10 to between 100 and 120; and China now has 250 against 240 in 2012, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its annual report.

The study said India and Pakistan are also expanding their missile delivery capabilities.

In view of tensions between India and Pakistan, China and Japan, South Korea and North Korea and others, SIPRI finds the arms race all the more disturbing in view of what it called a "fragile" peace in Asia.

"While states have avoided direct conflict with each other and have stopped supporting insurgent movements on each other's territory, decades-old suspicions linger and economic integration has not been followed up with political integration," SIPRI said.

While the progress towards a global ban on cluster munitions stalled in 2012, it noted the decrease is due mainly to Russia and the US further reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons.

The two old superpowers have cut their warheads, Russia reducing its number from 10,000 to 8,500, and the United States scaling back from 8,000 to 7,700.

The warheads controlled by France stayed at 300, while Britain's remained at 225, and Israel's at 80.

SIPRI, however, said the figures were to a large extent estimates, as the nuclear powers aren't equally transparent, China being totally opaque, and Russia gradually becoming less open.

It does not count North Korea and Iran as nuclear powers yet, as their respective programmes are still considered in their early stages.

All five legally recognised nuclear weapon states — China, France, Russia, the UK and the US — are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely, the report said.

Of the five, only China seems to be expanding its nuclear arsenal and SIPRI said and noted that China had overtaken Britain as the world's fifth largest arms exporter after the US, Russia, Germany and France.