New Nuclear Arms Race

FOR the first time since the Cold War,  the global nuclear arsenal is expected to grow in the coming years, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its report on Monday. The SIPRI, a leading conflict and armaments think tank, has warned that in the absence of immediate action by the nuclear powers, global inventories of warheads could soon begin rising for the first time in decades.  Wilfred Wan, director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, said that all of the nuclear-armed states are increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies.  The report comes in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Russian president Vladimir Putin has already put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert. He has also warned of consequences “such as you have never seen in your entire history” for countries that stood in Russia’s way. Incidentally, Russia has the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal with a total of 5,977 warheads, some 550 more than the United States.

Such a massive stockpile of nuclear weapons poses a great danger to the world at a time when the world is entering a particularly uncertain phase with the US power being challenged  by Russia and China.  The US which remains the world’s No 1 power has sought to take on both the powers. Its GDP and defence expenditure remain several times higher than its nearest competitor China. But in Ukraine, we are at an interesting moment in history. The outcome of the war will determine the new global geopolitics if not the new superpower of the world.

The US has sought to demonstrate that far from being hemmed in by the Russian invasion, it would only further expand its global footprint. It is further encroaching into what China considers its sphere of influence in the east. And in response to Ukraine war, the US has sought to further aggravate the situation by encouraging Finland and Sweden, Russia’s neighbours to join NATO. This has created a very fraught geopolitical situation and we can only hope that its end result is not more war. A defeated Russia won’t also be in the interest of world peace, nor a China which feels cornered by the US-led west. The world needs resumption of a process of dialogue and re-engagement for a peaceful resolution of its conflicts, which alone will result in a long term peace.

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