Since its eruption at the beginning of last year, the Russian-Western conflict in Ukraine has compelled the world to reassess many areas.
In addition to the crises it has sparked in the energy and food sectors, along with the global inflation wave, the confrontations have driven various countries into an arms race we have not seen since the end of the Cold War.
Specialized statistics and official reports have shown a significant increase in military spending by many countries, whether on the borders of the war in Ukraine or thousands of miles away.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the total number of nuclear warheads among the nine nuclear-armed powers (Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, the United States, and Russia) decreased to 12,512 at the beginning of 2023 compared to 12,710 at the beginning of 2022.
Currently, there are 9,576 warheads in “military stockpiles for potential use,” which is 86 more than the previous year, as stated by the institute’s director, Dan Smith.
“We are approaching, or perhaps we have reached, the end of a long period of decline in the number of nuclear weapons in the world”, Smith added.
The risks of nuclear weapons multiply as their deployment increases. Permanent readiness is limited to a small number of nuclear warheads capable of responding rapidly to a surprise attack and the increase in the deployment of these warheads leads to dangerous tensions among major powers, as was recently evident at the beginning of the military operation against Ukraine when the Russian president announced the state of alertness of the country’s strategic deterrence forces, which include nuclear weapons.
Generally, the strategic capabilities of major countries consist of bombers, strategic missiles, aircraft carriers, and submarines, all capable of carrying nuclear weapons, along with missile defence networks, air surveillance systems, and anti-aircraft and anti-satellite space defences.
Furthermore, the threat of nuclear weapons and the development of their arsenals increase tension, especially after Russia’s deliberate display of hypersonic missiles.
This also increases the possibility that Germany may resort to possessing nuclear weapons due to the United States’ indecisive stance following the invasion of Ukraine.
Moreover, ambiguity surrounds Iran’s nuclear program, which means that if it possesses nuclear weapons, Arab countries will seek to achieve balance by possessing such weapons.
The nuclear arms race continues despite agreements that may not be effective amid the deterioration of relations among nuclear-armed states.
This indicates that the risk of using nuclear weapons today is greater than ever.
Therefore, the question now is: When will comprehensive dialogue begin between nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-armed countries worldwide? The international community must protect the system of arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation treaties, strengthen their effectiveness, preserve their credibility, and highlight the role and impact of multilateral disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation treaties based on existing international laws.