Three of the world's nuclear powers - China, India and Pakistan - have increased their arsenals over the past year, while the other five have cut their strength or kept them stable, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says.
China now has 250 nuclear warheads against 240 in 2012, while Pakistan has increased its warheads by about 10 to between 100 and 120 and India has also added roughly 10 for a total of 90 to 110, the institute said in its annual report on Monday.
According to the Stockholm group, the arms race is all the more disturbing because of what it called a ''fragile'' peace in Asia, characterised by growing tensions since 2008 between India and Pakistan, China and Japan, and the two Koreas, among others.
''While states have avoided direct conflict with each other and have stopped supporting insurgent movements on each other's territory, decades-old suspicions linger and economic integration has not been followed up with political integration,'' the institute said.
Only the two old superpowers have cut their warheads, Russia reducing its number from 10,000 to 8500, and the US scaling back from 8000 to 7700. The warheads controlled by France stayed at 300, while Britain's remained at 225 and Israel's at 80.
The institute acknowledged the figures were largely estimates.
While the global total of warheads was down, it said this did not translate into a significantly diminished nuclear threat.
The arms race in Asia has increased since 2008 mainly due to growing tensions between China and Japan, the two Koreas, and India and Pakistan, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in its report.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says in its latest report that China, India and Pakistan have added more nuclear weapons to their stock in the last few years.
The annual report claims that while China appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal, India and Pakistan are increasing both their nuclear as well as their conventional weapons.
Pakistan is also enhancing its plutonium production at the central Khushab city, which is home to the Heavy Water and Natural Uranium Research Reactor - an important component of the Islamic state's special weapons program.
SIPRI further says that in 2012 China, India and Pakistan added 10 warheads each to their nuclear storage. China, it says, now has 250 nuclear warheads, whereas Pakistan possesses 100 to 120, and India 90 to 110.
The three Asian countries are home to over 2.7 billion people, which is nearly 40 percent of the global population.
'An inaccurate report'
Kapil Kak, a retired Indian air force officer, who is currently associated with the Center of Air Power Studies in New Delhi, says his country does not need to increase its nuclear arsenal nor it plans to do so.
"We keep minimum deterrence as part of our nuclear strategy. But yes, we have a hostile neighborhood, so we have enhanced the quality of the arsenal and also improved command, control protocols and accuracy of the warheads," Kak told DW, adding that he failed to understand why Pakistan needed so many nuclear weapons.
Ravi Sawhney, a former deputy chief of the Indian army is of the view that China's global ambitions and its attempts to increase its hegemony in Asia may have prompted India to enhance its nuclear capabilities.
"Pakistan's insecurity stems from the fact that India is far superior in conventional warfare. We have our compulsions too, and our nuclear weapons program is moving forward steadily," Sawhney told DW.
But some experts, like G. Balachandran - a consulting fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses - doubt the accuracy of the SIPRI report.
"This report will not have any impact on the stability or instability in the Asian region. There is absolutely nothing to get excited about. And how can SIPRI get details of India's nuclear warheads when only few people have any knowledge about it?” asked Balachandran.
By MALIN RISING Associated Press
China, India and Pakistan have increased their nuclear weapons by about 10 warheads each in the past year, and other nuclear states appear set on maintaining their arsenals, a Swedish think tank said Monday.
At the start of the year, China had raised its number of nuclear warheads to 250 from 240 in 2012 as part of a process to modernize its defense, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said. However it also said China is "highly non-transparent" when it comes to its nuclear arsenal.
SIPRI researcher Pillip Schell said China may continue "the very slight process of increasing" its nuclear arms in the long-term but that there is no sign the country will change its current policy of maintaining a credible deterrent with the smallest possible nuclear arsenal.
"It is not so much about an increase in numbers, but an increase in quality," he said.
Bitter rivals Pakistan and India also increased their arsenals by around 10 warheads each.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Russia continued their disarmament in accordance with the new START treaty that they signed in 2010. The U.S. reduced its number of warheads to 7,700 from 8,000, and Russia cut its arsenal to 8,500 from 10,000.
However, at the same time the U.S., Russia, France, China and Britain have all either deployed new nuclear weapon delivery systems or announced programs to do so, SIPRI said.
"There is little to inspire hope that the nuclear weapon-possessing states are genuinely willing to give up their nuclear arsenals," SIPRI researcher Shannon Kile said in a statement. "The long-term modernization programs under way in these states suggest that nuclear weapons are still a marker of international status and power."
Here is SIPRI's list of the number of nuclear warheads in the world at the start of 2013 compared with the start of 2012.