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For the first time in 25 years

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For the first time in 25 years, India now has more nuclear warheads than Pakistan. Meanwhile, the nuclear arsenals of the US, Russia, and China are also on the rise.

For the first time in 25 years, India’s nuclear arsenal has surpassed Pakistan’s, according to a report by the global arms tracker SIPRI. India now has an estimated 172 nuclear warheads, slightly ahead of Pakistan’s 170.

The report also notes a significant shift in China’s nuclear strategy, with China placing its nuclear weapons on high operational alert, enabling rapid deployment via long-range missiles.

Reflecting similar strategic adjustments, India appears to be moving towards integrating some of its nuclear warheads with their launch platforms during peacetime. Historically, India has kept its warheads and launchers separate. However, recent developments, such as the deployment of missiles in canisters and the initiation of sea-based deterrence patrols, indicate a shift towards a ready-to-launch posture.

India’s nuclear delivery capabilities include aircraft, land-based ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched missiles. Over the past year, India’s nuclear arsenal has reportedly grown by eight warheads, increasing from 164. In contrast, Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile has remained steady. Since 2014, when India’s arsenal was estimated at 100 warheads, there has been a concerted effort to close the gap with Pakistan, marking the first time since 1999 that India’s arsenal is larger.

The SIPRI report also highlights that China’s nuclear arsenal is the fastest-growing globally, increasing from 410 warheads in 2023 to 500 this year. For the first time, China is believed to be deploying a small number of warheads on missiles during peacetime.

India has also become the 4th largest military spender in the world.

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