SIPRI Yearbook 2015 provides new data on world nuclear forces, peace operations

15 Jun

A new SIPRI Yearbook is out now. In this edition, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute highlights key findings: (1) all the nuclear weapon-possessing states are working to develop new nuclear weapon systems and/or upgrade their existing ones; and (2) the number of personnel deployed with peace operations worldwide continues to fall while the number of peace operations increases.

At the start of 2015, nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea)—possessed approximately 15 850 nuclear weapons, of which 4300 were deployed with operational forces. Roughly 1800 of these weapons were kept in a state of high operational alert.

The total number of nuclear warheads in the world is declining, primarily due to the USA and Russia continuing to reduce their nuclear arsenals, albeit at slower pace compared with a decade ago. At the same time, both countries have extensive and expensive long-term modernization programmes under way for their remaining nuclear delivery systems, warheads and production.

The nuclear arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states are considerably smaller, but all are either developing or deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so. In the case of China, this may involve a modest increase in the size of its nuclear arsenal. India and Pakistan are both expanding their nuclear weapon production capabilities and developing new missile delivery systems. North Korea appears to be advancing its military nuclear programme, but its technical progress is difficult to assess based on open sources.

“Despite renewed international interest in prioritizing nuclear disarmament, the modernization programmes under way in the nuclear weapon-possessing states suggests that none of them will give up their nuclear arsenals in the foreseeable future,” says SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.

World nuclear forces, 2015

Country Deployed warheads* Other warheads Total 2015 Total 2014
USA 2080 5180 7260 7300
Russia 1780 5720 7500 8000
UK 150 65 215 225
France 290 10 300 300
China 260 260 250
India 90-110 90-110 90-110
Pakistan 100-120 100-120 100-120
Israel 80 80 80
North Korea 6-8 6-8
Total 4300 11545 15850 16350


Peace operations increase while personnel numbers drop
There were 62 peace operations in 2014, a rise of 3 over the previous year. The number of deployed personnel in all peace operations, including the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, fell by 20 per cent to 162 052. The closure of ISAF was a defining moment for 2014 and influenced many of the year’s peace operation-related figures.

As a consequence of ISAF’s drawdown, Africa became an even greater focus of peace operations: it is the continent with the largest number of such operations and hosts more personnel than all the other regions combined. Seven new peace operations were launched in 2014 and four of them were in Africa. The three new missions outside Africa were all established in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

‘Despite all of the criticism and pessimism, peace operations are remarkably successful. The international community increasingly invests in them because, in many conflicts, they remain the best crisis management instrument available’ said Head of SIPRI’s peace operations research team Dr Jair van der Lijn.

SIPRI Yearbook 2015 contains separate chapters on major geographic regions as well as, for the first time, a chapter on the growing issue of security and development. ‘SIPRI continuously strives to keep its flagship publication relevant and to sum up major developments in armaments, disarmament and international security. Looking back at 2014, it was only natural to expand the Yearbook’s scope to incorporate these important developments’ says SIPRI’s Director of Publications, Dr Ian Davis.



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