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Commentary: Oppenheimer’s warning still holds true to this day

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Military expenditure in Europe saw its steepest annual increase in at least 30 years. NATO countries and partners are all accelerating towards, or are already past, the 2 per cent of GDP military spending target. The global arms bazaar is busier than ever.

Aside from the opportunity cost represented by these alarming figures, weak international law in crucial areas means current military spending is largely immune to effective regulation.

THE NEW NUCLEAR ARMS RACE

Although the world’s nuclear powers agree “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, there are still about 12,500 nuclear warheads on the planet. This number is growing, and the power of those bombs is infinitely greater than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

According to the United Nations’ disarmament chief, the risk of nuclear war is greater than at any time since the end of the Cold War. The nine nuclear-armed states (Britain, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel, as well as the big three) all appear to be modernising their arsenals. Several deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapons systems in 2022.

The US is upgrading its “triad” of ground, air and submarine-launched nukes, while Russia is reportedly working on submarine delivery of “doomsday” nuclear torpedoes capable of causing destructive tidal waves.

While Russia and the US possess about 90 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, other countries are expanding quickly. China’s arsenal is projected to grow from 410 warheads in 2023 to maybe 1,000 by the end of this decade.

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