Global security and stability in increasing peril, SIPRI warns

316

Global security has deteriorated over the past year, primarily driven by the impact of the war in Ukraine, which has resulted in the world moving towards possible nuclear conflict for the first time in more than half a century, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

This was one of the findings outlined in the 54th edition of the SIPRI Yearbook, which reveals the continuing deterioration of global security over the past year. The impacts of the war in Ukraine are visible in almost every aspect of the issues connected to armaments, disarmament and international security examined in the Yearbook. Nevertheless, it was far from being the only major conflict being waged in 2022, and acute geopolitical tensions, mistrust and division had been growing long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour, SIPRI found.

“We are drifting into one of the most dangerous periods in human history,” said Dan Smith, SIPRI Director. “It is imperative that the world’s governments find ways to cooperate in order to calm geopolitical tensions, slow arms races and deal with the worsening consequences of environmental breakdown and rising world hunger.”

In its Yearbook, SIPRI highlighted the increasing number of operational nuclear weapons around the world as countries expand and modernise their militaries amidst a deteriorating global security situation. Of the total global inventory of an estimated 12 512 warheads in January 2023, about 9 576 were in military stockpiles for potential use — 86 more than in January 2022. Of those, an estimated 3 844 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2 000 — nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the USA — were kept in a state of high operational alert, meaning that they were fitted to missiles or held at airbases hosting nuclear bombers, SIPRI found.

“Most of the nuclear-armed states are hardening their rhetoric about the importance of nuclear weapons, and some are even issuing explicit or implicit threats about potentially using them,” said Matt Korda, Associate Researcher with SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme and Senior Research Associate with the FAS Nuclear Information Project. “This elevated nuclear competition has dramatically increased the risk that nuclear weapons might be used in anger for the first time since World War II.”

“In this period of high geopolitical tension and mistrust, with communication channels between nuclear-armed rivals closed or barely functioning, the risks of miscalculation, misunderstanding or accident are unacceptably high,” said Dan Smith, SIPRI Director. “There is an urgent need to restore nuclear diplomacy and strengthen international controls on nuclear arms.”