Context: According to a latest report by Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI),all nations that have nuclear weapons continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals, while India and China increased their nuclear warheads in the last one year.

Key findings:

  • China is in the middle of a significant modernisation of its nuclear arsenal. It is developing a so-called nuclear triad for the first time, made up of new land and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft. 
  • China’s nuclear arsenal had gone up from 290 warheads in 2019 to 320 in 2020, while India’s went up from 130-140 in 2019 to 150 in 2020. Pakistan’s arsenal was estimated to be between 150-160 in 2019 and has reached 160 in 2020. Both China and Pakistan continue to have larger nuclear arsenals than India
  • India and Pakistan are slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces.
  • The nuclear arsenals of the nuclear-armed states other than the United States and Russia were considerably smaller but all these states are developing or deploying new weapon systems.
  • Together the nine nuclear-armed states — the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the start of 2020, which marked a decrease from an estimated 13,865 nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2019. 
    • The decrease in the overall numbers was largely due to the dismantlement of old nuclear weapons by Russia and the U.S., which together possess over 90% of the global nuclear weapons.
    • However the deadlock over the New START and the collapse of the 1987 Soviet–U.S. Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) in 2019 suggest that the era of bilateral nuclear arms control agreements between Russia and the U.S. might prove detrimental
  • Low levels of transparency:The availability of reliable information on the status of the nuclear arsenals and capabilities of the nuclear-armed states varied considerably.
    • In 2019, the US administration ended the practice of publicly disclosing the size of its stockpile.
    • The governments of India and Pakistan make statements about some of their missile tests but provide little information about the status or size of their arsenals according to the report.


  • Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an international institute based in Sweden, dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. 
  • Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.