7 June 2011: Resource competition raises tentions; nuclear forces ‘leaner but meaner’; peace operation numbers fall—new SIPRI Yearbook out now
Natural resources—from a policy concern to a security concern
SIPRI Yearbook 2011 highlights growing security concerns linked to natural resources, particularly scarcities and competition created by climate change and intensifying global demand driven by the rise of China and India. Further, wealthy countries’ demand for precious resources helps to fuel violence and instability in the Global South. The catalytic role played by demonstrations over high food prices in the so-called Arab Spring showed how resource markets can have far-reaching security impacts.
‘Commodity markets and security risks are increasingly globalized—so we need cooperative international frameworks for resource governance that directly address security issues. Links between resource questions and conflict can only be broken if consumer and producer states, industry and civil society, work together,’ says Dr Neil Melvin, Director of the SIPRI Programme on Armed Conflict and Conflict Management
Nuclear weapons—falling numbers, little progress towards disarmament
Eight states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel—possess more than 20 500 nuclear weapons, a drop of more than 200o since 2009. More than 5000 of these nuclear weapons are deployed and ready for use, including nearly 2000 that are kept in a state of high operational alert.
Modest cuts in US and Russian strategic nuclear forces were agreed in April 2010 under the New START treaty, but both countries currently are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals for the indefinite future. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons. They are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes.
‘It’s a stretch to say that the New START cuts agreed by the USA and Russia are a genuine step towards nuclear disarmament when their planning for nuclear forces is done on a time scale that encompasses decades and when nuclear modernization is a major priority of their defence policies,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.
World nuclear forces, 2011
Source: SIPRI Yearbook 2011 * “Deployed” means warheads placed on missiles or located on bases with operational forces.
Peace operations—fewer operations; ISAF has most of world’s peacekeepers
The number of active peace operations fell in 2010 to its lowest level since 2002. However, the 52 peace operations deployed 262 842 international troops, observers, civilian police and civilian staff, an increase of 20 per cent on the 2009 level (219 278 in 54 operations).
At 131 730 troops the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan deployed more personnel than all the other 51 operations combined. Non-ISAF personnel numbers actually fell by 3 per cent, from 135 132 in 2009 to 131 112 in 2010.
‘The vast size of ISAF creates a misleading picture. ISAF troops are mostly engaged in counter-insurgency rather than mainstream peacekeeping. If you take them out of the equation, the peacekeeping surge of the 2000s appears to be largely over,’ says Senior Researcher Sharon Wiharta, Head of the SIPRI Project on Multilateral Peace Operations.
The SIPRI Yearbook is SIPRI’s compendium of original data and analysis on developments in international security, armaments and disarmament. SIPRI Yearbook 2011’s uniquely broad scope offers the most comprehensive overview of global security issues available. Three major Yearbook data sets were pre-launched earlier this year: the Top 100 arms producing companies (21 Feb), international arms transfers (14 Mar) and world military expenditure data (15 Apr). See the earlier releases at www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases.