Stockholm: SIPRI, the Stockholm-based defence think tank, has claimed that both China and Pakistan – two of the countries with which India shares its border – are in the middle of expanding their nuclear arsenal.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a statement that while the number of nuclear warheads which China has stands at 350 in January 2022 – the same figure that was reported in January 2021 – it is adding more missile silos to its arsenal.

"China is in the middle of a substantial expansion of its nuclear weapon arsenal, which satellite images indicate includes the construction of over 300 new missile silos," SIPRI's statement read. It added that China continues to possess 350 nuclear warheads in January 2022, the same figure of January 2021.

"Even though SIPRI's estimate of China's total inventory is the same as for January 2021, the number of stockpiled warheads potentially available for use has changed because new launchers became operational during 2021," it noted.

On Pakistan, SIPRI said that the South Asian country also appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal like China. The think tank added that as of January 2022, Pakistan possessed 165 nuclear warheads. The figure in January 2021 was also 165.

Further, the defence think tank said India too appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenal and had 160 N-warheads in January 2022. According to SIPRI, New Delhi has expanded its nuclear stockpile from 156 in January 2021 to 160 in January 2022.

"India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals, and both countries introduced and continued to develop new types of nuclear delivery system in 2021," it claimed.

"The availability of reliable information on the status of the nuclear arsenals and capabilities of the nuclear-armed states varies considerably...India and Pakistan make statements about some of their missile tests but provide no information about the status or size of their arsenals," the SIPRI's statement pointed out.

It may be noted here that the Indian government, as a policy, does not disclose official data on its nuclear arsenal.

Across the world, nine countries possess nuclear weapons, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.