World War 3 fears have materialised amid the coronavirus pandemic this month, as border clashes erupted between India and China. The two nations have skirmished before, but the latest conflict comes with an already fraught backdrop of global health, worrying officials of potential escalation.
How many nuclear weapons does China have?
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) estimates China may have 200 to 300 nuclear warheads in its possession-based on estimates made in 2011.
In 2015, atomic scientists Robert Norris and Hans Kristensen suggested the country has approximately 260 warheads.
They added the number is slowly increasing and includes roughly 190 operational examples.
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How many nuclear weapons does India have?
India arrived on the nuclear scene a decade after China, having tested its first weapon in July 1974.
The country’s continued conflict against neighbouring Pakistan has kept it engaged in nuclear proliferation, with a growing arsenal according to the NTI.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated in 2019 India has some 130 to 140 warheads, and possesses both weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium.
The latter material also has uses in research reactors and nuclear submarines, outlining the country’s dual focus on nuclear energy.
India is outside the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) but has agreements and a waiver in place with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The latter two agencies allow it to participate in global civilian technology commerce.
Although it is not a CTBT signatory, Indian officials maintain a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing.