Disarmament week? But hundreds of nuclear bombs can be dropped in minutes

Global military spending reached nearly two trillion dollars in 2020, an increase of 2.6% in real terms from 2019. Credit: UN Photo / Rick Bajornas
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Inter Press Service

And that the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons is crammed with some 150 atomic weapons, hundreds of which can be launched in minutes.

Also that while the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, World Food Program, recently celebrated that the European Union – which includes many of these military powers – has provided just € 2.5 million in humanitarian aid to support vulnerable refugees in Tanzania.

Or that, with Afghanistan on the brink of universal poverty and 97% of Afghans could fall into poverty by mid-2022, the International Organization for Migration appealed last August for US $ 24 million, which outlines the immediate funding needs to meet pressing humanitarian needs in the war-torn Asian country that has suffered 20 years of military operations by the greatest powers military spenders.

What are all these weapons used for?

In addition to national security arguments, some of these huge stockpiles of weapons have been used by the world’s biggest military spenders, in the ongoing wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the United States. Libya.

Another part is sold or trafficked to so-called “insurgent” or “rebel” groups, fueling regional and local armed conflicts in at least a dozen countries, including DR Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Nigeria. , among others.

Who spends the most?

But let’s go back to some of the main findings in the report of last April of the prestigious independent international institute dedicated to research on conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament: the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):

. Global military spending reached nearly two trillion dollars in 2020. This amount implied a 2.6% increase in real terms compared to 2019. This increase came in a year when global gross domestic product (GDP) increased decreased by 4.4%, largely due to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,

. The top five spenders in 2020, which together accounted for 62% of global military spending, were the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom,

. The sharp increase in U.S. military spending continued into 2020, with military spending by the world’s greatest power reaching around $ 778 billion, a 4.4 percent increase from 2019 as it accounted for 39 percent of total military spending in 2020.

. China’s military spending, the second highest in the world, is estimated to total US $ 252 billion in 2020. This represents a 76% increase over the decade 2011-2020.

. Almost all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) saw their military load increase in 2020.

. Military spending in Europe increased by 4.0% in 2020.

Nuclear arsenals increase as states continue to modernize

A few months later, on June 14, 2021, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published the findings of its Yearbook 2021, which assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security.

World nuclear forces, January 2021

Country warheads deployed Other warheads Total 2021 Total 2020
United States 1,800 3,750 5550 5,800
Russia 1,625 4,630 6,255 6 375
UK 120 105 225 215
France 280 ten 290 290
China 350 350 320
India 156 156 150
Pakistan 165 165 160
Israel 90 90 90
North Korea
Total 3,825 9,255 13,080 13,400

Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2021.

One of its main findings is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2020, more have been deployed with task forces.

The nine nuclear-weapon states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) – had together about 13,080 early nuclear weapons. of 2021. This marked a decrease from the 13,400 that SIPRI estimated these states had at the start of 2020.

2,000 nuclear weapons on “high operational alert”

Sipri yearbook 2021 explains that despite this overall decrease, the estimated number of nuclear weapons currently deployed with task forces has fallen to 3,825 from 3,720 last year. About 2,000 of them, almost all of them from Russia or the United States, were kept on high operational alert.

Two countries, 90% of all nuclear weapons

Russia and the United States together possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. Both have extensive and expensive programs underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft launch systems, and production facilities, SIPRI concludes.

Last but not least: all those who will vote in elections must be aware that the slightest human or technical error or hasty political judgment can kill any living being on planet Earth.

More facts

  • Besides China, India ($ 72.9 billion), Japan (49.1 billion), South Korea (45.7 billion) and Australia (27.5 billion) were the largest military spenders in the Asia and Oceania region. The four countries increased their military spending between 2019 and 2020 and during the decade 2011-20.
  • One of the poorest regions on the planet, sub-Saharan Africa increased its military spending by 3.4% in 2020 to reach $ 18.5 billion. The largest increases in spending were recorded by Chad (+ 31%), Mali (+ 22%), Mauritania (+ 23%) and Nigeria (+ 29%), all in the Sahel region, as well as than Uganda (+ 46%).
  • Military spending in South America fell 2.1 percent to $ 43.5 billion in 2020. This drop is largely due to a 3.1 percent drop in spending by Brazil, the biggest spender. military in the sub-region.
  • Meanwhile, the combined military spending of the 11 Middle Eastern countries for which SIPRI has spending figures declined 6.5 percent in 2020, to $ 143 billion.


© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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