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Hiroshima for Global Peace

(4) Reduction of Nuclear Weapons

A) Reduction of nuclear weapons


Russia and the United States continue to implement the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) which entered into force in February 2011. The status of their strategic (nuclear) delivery vehicles and warheads under the New START has been periodically updated on the U.S. Department of State homepage (see Table 1-4 below). The United States also declassified the number of each type of its strategic delivery vehicles (see Table 1-5). According to the data as of February 5, 2018—the deadline for reducing their strategic arsenals under the treaty—the number of Russian and U.S. deployed strategic delivery vehicles and deployed/non-deployed strategic delivery vehicles/launchers, besides deployed strategic warheads, fell below the limit. They continue to meet the limits for strategic nuclear forces.

Since the treaty’s entry into force, Russia and the United States have implemented the on-site inspections under the New START.58 In addition, as the U.S. State Department disclosed, the two countries exchanged 21,293 notifications as of December 2020.59 However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on-site inspections have not been possible to conduct since April 1, 2020. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the inspections would resume after the COVID-19 situation normalized.60 However, since the situation failed to improve, the on-site inspection could not be resumed throughout 2020. As a result, in 2020, each country conducted only two of the 18 total on-site inspections allowed for by the treaty.

Another issue that came into focus in 2020 was the question of how to determine the future of the treaty as its expiration date of February 2021 approached. In 2019, Russia proposed a five-year extension of the treaty, whereas the United States suggested that it would pursue a new arms control arrangement which would include China as well as Russia, and which would regulate not just strategic nuclear forces but also other nuclear forces and their delivery vehicles. However, China strongly opposed participation in the nuclear weapons reduction process as part of a post-New START arrangement with the two nuclear superpowers.

This struggle among these three countries over nuclear arms control continued into 2020. In May, Marshall Billingslea, Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, said that before Moscow began to contemplate extension of the New START, it must “bring the Chinese to the negotiating table.”61 He also posted on Twitter in June: “Achieving Great Power status requires behaving with Great Power responsibility. No more Great Wall of Secrecy on its nuclear build-up. Seat waiting for China in Vienna.”62

The United States called on China to participate in the nuclear arms control talks with Russia and the United States held on June 22, 2020, but China refused. Hua Chunying, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, severely criticized the U.S. position:

As is known to all, China’s nuclear power is not on the same order of magnitude as that of the U.S. and Russia. It is not yet the right timing for China to participate in nuclear disarmament talks. Owners of the largest nuclear arsenals have special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament. Considering the current circumstances, the U.S. should respond positively to Russia’s call on extending the New START and further drastically reduce its nuclear arms stockpile, creating conditions for other nuclearweapon states to join in multilateral nuclear disarmament talks. … The U.S. time and again drags China into the New START extension issue between the US and Russia. It is the same old trick whenever it seeks to shift responsibility to others.63

Fu Cong, Director-General of the Department of Arms Control of Chinese Foreign Ministry, also said, “I can assure you, if the U.S. says that they are ready to come down to the Chinese level, China would be happy to participate the next day. …The [U.S.] real purpose is to get rid of all restrictions and have a free hand in seeking military superiority over any adversary, real or imagined.”64

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reiterated Russia’s position of “respecting China’s stance,” and did not strongly call for Chinese participation. In addition, he called on Britain and France to join the talks, arguing that “we cannot simply ignore capabilities of some others.”65

The details of the U.S.-Russian Strategic Security Dialogue, which was held on June 22 without China’s participation, were not disclosed, but the followings were agreed upon: three working groups on nuclear warheads and doctrine, verification, and space would be established, and convened within the next few weeks; and a second round of talks would be held in late July or early August. At the talk, the United States reportedly reiterated that all nuclear weapons, not just strategic ones, should be covered, and that China should be involved in this process.

On the other hand, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov said before the bilateral talk that he would accept that some of Russia’s more recent nuclear weapons systems about which the United States has expressed concern could be placed under the New START, as part of a reciprocal arrangement that would also cover new American weaponry, including advanced missile defense systems.66

In July, three working groups mentioned above were held, as well as the main meeting. On August 16, the U.S.-Russia Strategic Security Dialogue was convened in Vienna. However, few details of their discussions were reported.

In the meantime, the United States indicated a slight policy change in August. In an interview prior to the Strategic Security Dialogue, Special Presidential Envoy Billingsley said that Washington had been contemplating to conclude a bilateral agreement with Russia first if progress on three conditions were made: including China at an arms control dialogue after a bilateral agreement, adding restrictions on all types of nuclear weapons, and strengthening verification.67 After the Strategic Security Dialogue, he also commented, “There are some areas of convergence between Russia and the United States, but we do remain far apart on a number of key issues. In other words, there is some agreement in principle, but an enormous amount of work will be required if we are to make progress. … Russia understands our position, and what remains to be seen is if there is the political will in Moscow to get this deal done. The ball is now in Russia’s court.”68

However, the gap between Washington and Moscow did not narrow in August. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said, “We made real progress in the last couple weeks.”69 However, Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov, who proposed to extend the New START as it stands without preconditions, said that he did not share “the optimism of the American side about the possibility of a speedy conclusion of agreements.”70

In October, the two sides seemed to have made some progress in their discussion. It was reported that the U.S. administration was aiming to reach an agreement with Russia before the U.S. presidential election in November.71 In addition, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy Billingslea in his speech did not touch upon China’s participation, which the United States had previously cited as one of the conditions for extending the New START. Instead, he said, “We are in fact willing to extend the New START treaty for some period of time provided that they, in return, agree to a limitation—a freeze—on their nuclear arsenal.”72

Immediately after his speech, the United States, as a condition for the extension of New START, reportedly called on Russia to conclude a political agreement—as a basis for a future nuclear arms control treaty—which included limitations on non-strategic nuclear weapons (not covered by the New START) and stricter verification measures.73

On the other hand, at the Russian security council on October 16, President Putin stated, “I have a proposal – which is to extend the current agreement without any preconditions at least for one year to have an opportunity to conduct substantial negotiations.”74 However, the United States rejected the Russian proposal, saying, “We made a proposal. It was a relatively straightforward proposal that we extend New START for a year and that the Russians cap their nuclear warhead number for a year.”75 The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on October 20: “[Russia] proposes extending New START for one year, and at the same time, it stands ready, together with the U.S., to assume a political obligation on freezing a number of the nuclear warheads possessed by the parties for this period.” It also mentioned that the proposal would be effective if “the freezing of warheads would not involve any extra requirements on the part of the U.S.”76

However, the United States issued a statement: “The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalize a verifiable agreement.”77 This statement strongly implied that the United States included implementation of verification measures as a condition for extending the New START. Russia rejected the U.S. proposal. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov made it clear that Russia had no intention of accepting the U.S. requirement and expressed doubt about the possibility of reaching an agreement, stating: “We have the full impression that the Americans do not need any agreements, they only need verification. And verification, in the way proposed by them, is, basically, to establish external control over the most sensitive elements of ensuring the entire systems of our national security. This is unacceptable for us.”78

In the end, Russia and the United States were unable to reach an agreement before the U.S. presidential election, and the issue of how to extend the New START was carried over to 2021.

INF Treaty

The INF Treaty formally ended in August 2019 when the U.S. withdrew from it, citing Russia’s non-compliance by testing and deploying 9M729 GLCMs, and upon Russia’s suspension of obligations under the treaty as a countermeasure against the U.S.’s withdrawal.

There was some talk thereafter about informally extending the limits under the INF Treaty. In October 2020, Russian President Putin stated, “[W]e reaffirm the commitment to the Russian Federation’s previously announced moratorium on the deployment of ground-launched intermediate-and shorter-range missiles as long as no similar class missile weapons of US manufacture emerge in the respective regions.” He then proposed the following new arms control measures:79

➢ Implementing verification measures regarding the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems equipped with Mk-41 launchers at U.S. and NATO bases in Europe and the 9M729 missiles at Russian military facilities in the Kaliningrad Region;
➢ Refraining from further deployment of the 9M729 missiles in Russia’s European territory—while staying committed to the consistent position that the 9M729 missile is in full conformity with the terminated INF Treaty—unless the NATO countries were to deploy missiles in Europe which were prohibited under the INF Treaty; and
➢ Calling upon all parties concerned to explore ways of maintaining stability and preventing missile crises “in a world without the INF Treaty” with regard to the Asia-Pacific Region.

However, the United States and other NATO countries rejected Russia’s proposals, arguing that: Russia’s 9M729 testing and deployment was a violation of the INF Treaty in the first place; that deployment of the Mk-41 does not constitute a violation of the INF Treaty; and that the targeted areas for applying verification measures is largely asymmetrical.

Other Nuclear-Weapon/Armed States

Among nuclear-armed states other than Russia and the United States, France and the United Kingdom have reduced their nuclear weapons unilaterally. The United Kingdom, which previously announced plans to reduce its nuclear forces to no more than 120 operationally available warheads and a total stockpile of no more than 180 warheads by the mid- 2020s, declared in January 2015 that it had completed the reduction of the number of deployed warheads on each of its nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) from 48 to 40 as committed to in 2010, with the total number of operationally available warheads therefore being reduced to 120.80 At the 2020 UNGA First Committee, it stated, “The UK has cut its numbers of nuclear warheads, both stockpiled and deployed, to the level needed to provide a minimum, credible deterrent, and remains the only Nuclear Weapon State to have reduced its deterrent capability to a single system.”81

French President Emmanuel Macron said in his speech on nuclear policies in February 2020, “France is committed to a disarmament approach, which furthers global stability and security. France has a unique track record in the world, in keeping with its responsibilities and interests, having dismantled irreversibly its land-based nuclear component, its nuclear test facilities, its fissile material for weapons production facilities, and having reduced the size of its arsenal, which is currently under 300 nuclear weapons. These decisions are in line with our rejecting any type of arms race and our keeping the format for our nuclear deterrent at a level of strict sufficiency.”82 At the same time, he made it clear that France would never renounce its nuclear forces unilaterally.

I cannot therefore set France the moral objective of disarming our democracies while other powers, or even dictatorships, would be maintaining or developing their nuclear weapons. For a nuclear-weapon State like France, unilateral nuclear disarmament would be akin to exposing ourselves as well as our partners to violence and blackmail, or depending on others to keep us safe. I refuse this prospect. And let us not be naïve: even if France, whose arsenal cannot be in any ways compared to that of the United States and Russia, were to give up its weapons, the other nuclear powers would not follow suit. Similarly, France will not sign any treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The Treaty will not create any new obligations for France, either for the State or for public or private actors on its territory.83

Among the five NWS, China has declared neither concrete information on its number of deployed or possessed nuclear weapons, nor any plan for their reduction, while reiterating that it keeps its nuclear arsenal at the minimum level required for its national security. It is widely estimated that China has not dramatically increased its nuclear arsenal numerically. On the other hand, it is likely that China continues qualitative advancements in its nuclear arsenal, and has not started nuclear weapons reductions.

As mentioned above, China refused to participate in a U.S. proposed trilateral nuclear arms control talk with Russia and the United States, and repeated its longstanding position that the largest nuclear powers should first drastically reduce their nuclear arsenals. At the UNGA First Committee in October 2020, China criticized the U.S. approach, arguing: “This is just a trick to shift the focus of the international community. The U.S. intention is to find an excuse to shirk its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament, and seek a pretext to free its hands and gain absolute military supremacy.” Beijing also stated, “China has pursued a nuclear strategy of self-defense, always kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for its national security, and has never and will never take part in any nuclear arms race with any other country. Given the huge gap between the nuclear arsenals of China and those of the US and the Russian Federation, it is unfair, unreasonable and infeasible to expect China to join in any trilateral arms control negotiation. China will never participate in such a negotiation and will never accept any coercion or blackmail.”84

As for India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, there is no information, nor any statements or analysis which suggests any reductions of their nuclear weapons or capabilities. To the contrary, as noted below, they are expanding their nuclear programs.

B) A concrete plan for further reduction of nuclear weapons

In 2020, there was no new proposal by nuclear-armed states to take concrete measures for further reductions of their nuclear arsenals. As mentioned above, the U.S.-Russian talks on further reductions of their strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces made little progress. China, France and the United Kingdom have not changed their positions that further significant reduction of Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals is necessary before a multilateral process of nuclear weapons reductions can be commenced. In South Asia, Pakistan only stated that it would abandon its nuclear weapons if India did the same.

C) Trends on strengthening/modernizing nuclear weapons capabilities

While nuclear-armed states have reiterated their commitments to promoting nuclear disarmament, they continue to modernize and/or strengthen their nuclear weapons capabilities. At the 2020 UNGA First Committee, many countries expressed concerns about such a trend. Meanwhile, China and Russia on the one hand, and the United States on the other hand criticized each other’s their nuclear modernization efforts.

According to a report published by the ICAN in 2020, nine nuclear-armed states spent $72.9 billion on their nuclear weapons in 2019, which was a $7.1 billion increase from 2018.85


Although China has not disclosed the status of its development and deployment of nuclear weapons, it has actively carried out their modernization. At a military parade held in October 2019, China introduced, inter alia, the new DF-41 mobile multiple independently-targetable reentry vehicle (MIRVed) inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM); the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs); the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs); and the DF- 17, which carries the hypersonic boost glide vehicle DF-ZF.

In its annual report on Chinese military and security developments in 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense reported that China is estimated to possess approximately 100 ICBMs and launchers (90 in 2019), and more than 200 (80-160 in 2019) IRBMs including DF-26 we well as their 200 (80 in 2019) launchers.86 It assessed: “Over the next decade, China will expand and diversify its nuclear forces, likely at least doubling its nuclear warhead stockpile. China probably intends to develop new nuclear warheads and delivery platforms that at least equal the effectiveness, reliability, and/or survivability of some of the warheads and delivery platforms currently under development by the United States and Russia.”87 In the report, the U.S. Defense Department also assessed: China’s nextgeneration Type 096 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) would likely begin construction in the early-2020s; the H-6N strategic bombers under development would be equipped with nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missiles (ALBMs); and the DF-26, which can conduct precision strikes, would be the most likely weapon system to field a lower-yield warhead in the near-term.”88

In April 2020, China’s two additional Jinclass SSBNs have reportedly gone into service (six vessels in total), although details remain unclear.89 In October, it was reported that the DF-17s carrying hypersonic boost glide vehicles had been operationally deployed in the coastal areas of southeast China while some experts consider that they are not yet operational.90 In addition, a senior official of the U.S. State Department said in an interview that China had conducted at least 70 test-launches of ballistic or ground-launched cruise missiles in the period from January to September 2020, and 225 ballistic missile launches in 2019.91 While it is unclear whether this information is true, it strongly suggests that China is continuing its active ballistic missile activities.

In the meantime, China has been working to build an early warning system with the cooperation of Russia. Although the details are unknown, bilateral cooperation between the two countries has been reportedly proceeding as planned.92


In a speech on nuclear policies in February 2015, President François Hollande declassified that the French nuclear deterrent consists of 54 middlerange ALCMs and three sets of 16 SLBMs.93 In 2020, there was no change in this nuclear force posture.

With regard to SLBMs equipped on its four Le Triomphant-class SSBNs, France began operating the M51.2s, which will carry a new type of nuclear warhead, in December 2017, and plans to load them on all of its SSBNs by 2020. France also plans to complete development of the M51.3 SLBMs by 2025, which incorporate a new third stage for extended range and further improved accuracy. As for the successor to the airto- surface medium-range cruise missile (ASMPT), France has begun design and development of the ASN4G (air-sol nucléaire 4ème génération), which is scheduled to enter into service around 2035.


Russia has continued to develop new types of strategic nuclear forces to replace its aging systems, mainly aiming to bolster nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis the United States. At the end of 2019, President Putin reported that 82 percent of Russia’s strategic nuclear triad were armed with modern weaponry.94

Regarding ICBMs, the deployment of mobile/fixed RS-24 (Yars) ICBMs is progressing. In addition, Russia repeatedly conducted flight tests of the MIRVed RS-28 (Sarmat), which can carry 10-16 nuclear warheads. It is estimated that the RS-28 will complete its testing phase by the end of 2020, and begin replacing the SS-18 (RS-20V) ICBMs by 2021.95

As for its sea-based nuclear forces, the conversion to Borey-class SSBNs has begun, with three ships in service, five under construction, and two more to be purchased.96 In October 2019, Russia conducted the first SLBM test launch from the new Borey-A SSBN.97

Russia has also been active in developing brand-new nuclear delivery systems. For instance, the Avangard hypersonic boost glide vehicle (with a range of at least 5,500 km) flies at speeds of over Mach 20 and is highly mobile, making interception by ballistic missile defense difficult. After a test launch in December 2018, Russia announced at the end of 2019 that it had started to deploy the Avangard.98 In October 2020, Russia conducted a test launch of a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. The Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the missile’s flight range was 450 km, the maximum altitude was 28 km, and a hypersonic speed of more than Mach 8 was achieved.99

In addition, Russia has developed a Status-6, or Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) featuring a long-range nuclear torpedo with a range of more than 10,000 km driven by nuclear power.100 By detonating a high-powered nuclear warhead near an adversary’s coast, it can create a tsunami of radioactive seawater and debris, and cause serious radioactive contamination of ports, cities and economic infrastructure near the coast, rendering them uninhabitable for generations.101 In January 2019, it was reported that 32 of these units would be deployed in the near future.102

Meanwhile, the development of the SSCX-9 (Skyfall) nuclear-propelled cruise missile has been observed to be experiencing difficulty.103 Still, it was reported that Russia was preparing to resume its test flight.104

Regarding land-based intermediate-range missiles, it was reported in January 2019 before the demise of the INF Treaty that Russia had already deployed approximately four 9M729 GLCM battalions (approximately 100 missiles).105 However, Russia has insisted that the 9M729 missile is not in violation of the INF Treaty, and that it has not deployed any ground-launched intermediate-range missiles that would be subject to the INF Treaty.

The United Kingdom

In October 2017, the United Kingdom started to construct a new Dreadnought- class of four SSBNs to replace the existing Vanguard-class SSBNs. The first new SSBN is expected to enter into service in the early 2030s, but construction has been delayed due to technical problems.

In January 2020, it was reported that an investigation by the National Audit Office into three defense nuclear facilities in England (where nuclear submarines are built, nuclear reactors for the submarines are developed, and nuclear warheads are assembled) revealed that infrastructure projects faced delays of between one and six years, with costs increasing by £1.3 billion.106 According to the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, “[t]he cost overruns were caused in large part by avoidable mistakes, such as beginning construction work without mature designs.”107 On the other hand, the U.K. government states in its report published in December 2020, “We will not compromise on our high standards on safety and quality but will continue to assess the cost impact to the UK and remain committed to delivering the Dreadnought submarine programme on time and within the allocated budget.”108

Regarding nuclear warheads for SLBMs loaded on the new SSBNs, U.S. Strategic Command Commander Charles Richard implied at the U.S. Senate hearing in February 2020 that the United States and the United Kingdom intended to jointly develop nuclear warheads for the next generation of SLBMs, and said that this would be called the W93 warhead.109 U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace subsequently confirmed that Britain is working on a new nuclear warhead.110

In December, Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the U.K. Ministry of Defense, expressed concern that there would be “very significant implications” for the future of its SSBN replacement plan should the next U.S. administration suspend the development of W93 warheads.111

The United States

The United States has pursued to modernize its nuclear weapons systems and infrastructure, including nuclear delivery vehicles and nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3), most of which were constructed during the Cold War era. The cost of the modernization program is estimated $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years.

Since the timing for renewal of the U.S. strategic delivery vehicles which began deployment during the Cold War is drawing closer, the United States has contemplated development of next-generation ICBMs, SSBNs and strategic bombers (along with Long Range Stand-Off Weapons (LRSO) for use thereon).112 In the NPR published in February 2018, the Trump administration reaffirmed the importance of the U.S. nuclear triad and the modernization plan designed by the previous administration as follows:113

➢ Constructing 12 Colombia-class SSBNs, the first of which will start to operate in 2031;
➢ Building 400 Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD, the new ICBMs) for replacing 450 Minuteman III; and
➢ Developing and deploying B-21 next generation strategic bombers as well as LRSO.

Regarding non-strategic nuclear forces, the NPR 2018 states that in the near-term, the United States would modify a small number of existing SLBM warheads to provide a low-yield option, and in the longer term, pursue a modern nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM).114

The W76-2 low-yield nuclear warheads for SLBMs were loaded on the SSBN Tennessee which deployed for a deterrent patrol in the Atlantic Ocean in the end of 2019. On the Tennessee, it is estimated that several W76-2 are mounted on one or two SLBMs.115 Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood stated that the purpose of the deployment of the W76-2 was “to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners.”116 According to the annual report published by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), “[i]n FY 2020, assembly of the W76-2 was completed, with the full quantity produced and delivered to the Navy.”117

In addition, the Department of Energy’s budget material listed a new nuclear warhead type called W93. A U.S. government official explained that the W93 is not a completely new warhead but is based on an existing design and, therefore, does not need to be tested.118 As mentioned above, the W93 is also planned to be installed on the U.K.’s new SLBM.

As for intermediate-range missiles, after withdrawing from the INF Treaty, the United States has planned to acquire ground-launched intermediate-range missiles, which were prohibited under the demised treaty. However, as of 2020, it has not yet acquired or deployed them.

In the meantime, the United States continues to develop hypersonic weapons, although it lags behind Russia and China. In March 2020, it successfully test-launched a hypersonic glide body (CHGB) which was jointly developed by the U.S. Army and Navy.119

Regarding plutonium pits, the core of nuclear warheads, the NNSA announced a plan to produce no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030, including a minimum of 30 pits per year at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a minimum of 50 pits per year at the Savannah River Site. Currently, less than 20 pits per year are produced at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.120


India appears to be aggressively pursuing the possession of a strategic nuclear triad. In January 2020, it twice conducted test-launches of the 3,500 km range SLBM K-4.121 India also plans to deploy five submarines loading nuclear weapons.122 It is reported that India’s second SSBN Arighat is likely to be commissioned in early 2021.123 In October, India successfully tested the ground-launched hypersonic missile Shaurya, with a range of 800-1,900 km (depending on loading warheads).124


Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its possession of nuclear weapons, and its nuclear activities are not necessarily clear. As for its delivery means, Israel has developed and deployed both nuclear capable ground-launched medium-range ballistic missiles and SLCMs. In January 2020, it reportedly conducted a test launch of its Jericho long-range ballistic missile.125


Pakistan126 has prioritized the development and deployment of nuclearcapable short- and medium-range missiles for ensuring deterrence vis-à-vis India. In February 2020, it conducted a flight test of the Ra’ad-II air-launched cruise missile with a range of 600 km.127

North Korea

Since November 2017, North Korea has not conducted nuclear and long-range missile tests. In his New Year’s address in January 2019, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong Un stated that that North Korea would continue its suspension of nuclear and missile tests, and that it would not produce, test, use or proliferate nuclear weapons. However, at the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea held near the end of 2019, Chairman Kim condemned the U.S.’s attitude, saying that there was no longer any reason to be unilaterally bound by the commitments to suspend nuclear and ICBM tests and to shut down its nuclear test site. He also said, “[T]he world will witness a new strategic weapon to be possessed by the DPRK in the near future.”128

North Korea did not conduct nuclear and long-range missile tests in 2020. However, at its military parade held on October 10, a new Hwasong-16 mobile ICBM and Pukguksong-4 SLBM were introduced. While their capabilities are unclear since they have not been tested, it has been analyzed that the Hwasong-16 is the largest mobile ICBMs in the world, and might be designed to mount multiple warheads.129 In May, it was reported that: a new facility, certainly related to North Korea’s ballistic missile program, was nearing completion near Pyongyang International Airport; a high-bay building within the facility was large enough to accommodate the entirety of North Korea’s known ballistic missile variants; and the facility has been constructed next to an underground facility whose likely size is also large enough to accommodate all known North Korean ballistic missiles along with their associated launchers and support vehicles.130

In the meantime, North Korea test launched nine short-range ballistic missiles in March 2020.131 Among them, the KN-24 which was tested on March 21, according to the South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, reached maximum heights of about 50 km, and ground distances of roughly 410 km, and flew on a variable ballistic trajectory, descending once and ascending again.132

As for its nuclear weapons production capabilities, the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that North Korea possesses 20–60 bombs, with the capability to produce six new devices each year.133 In addition, according to the mid-term report by the UN Panel of Experts published in August 2020, “Several Member States conveyed their assessments of the development of the nuclear capability of [North Korea], stating that through its activities, … it has probably developed miniaturized nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles. A Member State assesses that [North Korea] may seek to further develop miniaturization in order to allow the incorporation of technological improvements, such as penetration aid packages, or, potentially, to develop multiple warhead systems.”134

The report also mentioned that while North Korea was unlikely to engaging in production of plutonium, several UN member states indicated that the uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon, as well as the uranium mine and yellow-cake production plant in Pyongsan are

Regarding a suspected enrichment facility located in Kangson (also called Chollima) southwest of Pyongyang, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said at a press conference in November 2020, “We are trying to finetune the analysis on Kangson, which is another site. In the beginning, we were a bit more prudent, but with further analysis we can see that this is a relevant place where [nuclear] activity is taking place.”136 One expert, who agrees that North Korea likely has two unreported uranium enrichment facilities, assessed that the Kangson site is not one of them, but rather a plant that could manufacture components for centrifuges.137

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59 The U.S. Department of State, “New START Treaty,”
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80 “UK Downsizes Its Nuclear Arsenal,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 45, No. 2 (March 2015),
81 “Statement by the United Kingdom,” First Committee, UNGA, October 15, 2020.
82 “Speech of the President of the Republic on the Defense and Deterrence Strategy,” February 7, 2020,
83 Ibid.
84 “Statement by China,” First Committee, UNGA, October 12, 2020.
85 ICAN, Enough Is Enough: 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending, May 2020.
86 The U.S. Department of Defense, Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020, p. 116.
87 Ibid., p. 87.
88 Ibid., pp. 86-87.
89 Minnie Chan, “Chinese Navy Puts Two New Nuclear Submarines into Service,” South Chinese Morning Post, April 29, 2020, new-nuclear-submarines-service.
90 Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “Nuclear Notebook: Chinese nuclear forces, 2020,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 76, No. 6 (2020), p. 451.
91 James Rosen, “Declassified U.S. Intelligence Tracks Huge Chinese Missile Buildup,” WJLA, September 19, 2020,
92 “Russia Achieves Certain Success in Helping China Set Up Its Missile Attack Warning System,” Tass, August 24, 2020,
93 François Hollande, “Nuclear Deterrence—Visit to the Strategic Air Forces,” February 19, 2015, html#Chapitre1.
94 Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2020,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 1, 2020,
95 Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2019,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 75, No. 2 (2019), p. 77; David Brennan, “Russia’s ‘Invulnerable’ Satan 2 Nuclear Missile will be Ready to Fire by the End of 2020, Space Agency Official Says,” Newsweek, July 8, 2019,
96 Kristensen and Korda, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2020.”
97 Thomas Nilsen, “Bulava Ballistic Missile Launch from Brand New Strategic Sub in White Sea,” Barents Observer, October 30, 2019,
98 Kristensen and Korda, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2019,” p. 77; Brennan, “Russia’s ‘Invulnerable’ Satan 2 Nuclear Missile.”
99 “Russia Reports Successful Test Launch of Hypersonic Missile,” AP, October 7, 2020,; “MoD Tests Tsircon Hypersonic Missile,” New Defence Order Strategy, October 7, 2020,
100 “Is Russia Working on a Massive Dirty Bomb,” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, November 10, 2015,
101 Kyle Mizokami, “How Can We Stop Russia’s Apocalypse Nuke Torpedo?” National Interest, August 17, 2018,
102 Franz-Stefan Gady, “Russia to Deploy Over 30 Nuclear-Capable ‘Poseidon’ Underwater Drones,” Diplomat, January 14, 2019,
103 Kristensen and Korda, “Russian Nuclear Forces, 2020”; “Russia’s Nuclear Cruise Missile is Struggling to Take Off, Imagery Suggests,” NPR, September 25, 2018,
104 Zachary Cohen, “Satellite Images Indicate Russia is Preparing to Resume Testing Its Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile,” CNN, October 20, 2020,
105 Michael R. Gordon, “On Brink of Arms Treaty Exit, U.S. Finds More Offending Russian Missiles,” Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2019, offending-russian-missiles-11548980645; “Russia Has Deployed More Medium-Range Cruise Missiles Than Previously Thought,” Radio Free Europe, February 10, 2019,
106 Jonathan Beale, “UK Nuclear Weapons Programme £1.3bn over Budget,” BBC, January 10, 2020,
107 Andrew Chuter, “Three British Nuclear Programs Are $1.67 Billion over Budget,” Defense News, May 12, 2020,
108 U.K. Ministry of Defense, “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: The 2020 Update to Parliament,” December 17, 2020,
109 Jamie Doward, “Pentagon Reveals Deal with Britain to Replace Trident,” Guardian, February 22, 2020,; “MoD Confirms ‘Parallel’ US-UK Nuclear Warheads Replacement Programme after It Was First Reported in the US,” Morning Star, February 23, 2020,
110 Andrew Chuter, “Britain Confirms New Nuclear Warheads Project after US Officials Spill the Beans,” Defense News, February 25, 2020,
111 Dan Sabbagh, “US Nuclear Warhead Standoff ‘Has Significant Implications for UK,’” Guardian, December 8, 2020,
112 See, for instance, Amy F. Woolf, “U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues,” CRS Report, March 6, 2018, pp. 9-41; “U.S. Nuclear Modernization Program,” Fact Sheet and Brief, Arms Control Association, August 2018,
113 The U.S. Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review 2018, February 2018, pp. 48-51.
114 Ibid., pp. 54-55.
115 William M. Arkin and Hans M. Kristensen, “US Deploys New Low-Yield Nuclear Submarine Warhead,” Federation of American Scientists, January 29, 2020,
116 The U.S. Department of Defense, “Statement on the Fielding of the W76-2 Low-Yield Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Warhead,” February 4, 2020,
117 NNSA, Fiscal Year 2021 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan – Biennial Plan Summary, December 2020, pp. 2-7.
118 Aaron Mehta, “Inside America’s Newly Revealed Nuclear Ballistic Missile Warhead of the Future,” Defense News, February 24, 2020,
119 Jon Harper, “Breaking: Pentagon Tests New Hypersonic Guide Body,” National Defense, March 20, 2020,
120 National Nuclear Security Administration, “Notice of Availability of Final Supplement Analysis of the Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement,” Federal Register, Vol. 85, No. 5 (January 8, 2020),
121 Dinakar Peri, “India Successfully Test-Fires 3,500-km Range Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile K-4,” Hindu, January 19, 2020,; Ankit Panda, “India Conducts Second January 2020 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile Test,” Diplomat, January 27, 2020,
122 Syed Zain Jaffery, “India Determined to Nuclearize Indian Ocean,” Eurasia Review, April 15, 2020,
123 Anil Jai Singh, “Credibilising India’s Strategic Deterrence,” Financial Express, December 22, 2020,
124 Kelsey Davenport, “India Tests Hypersonic Missile,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 50, No. 9 (October 2020),
125 Don Jacobson, “Israel Conducts Second Missile Test in 2 Months,” UPI, January 31, 2020,
126 See Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris and Julia Diamond, “Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 74, No. 5 (2018), pp. 348-358.
127 “Pakistan Successfully Tests Nuclear-Capable Air Launched Cruise Missile Ra’ad-II,” NDTV, February 19, 2020,
128 “Report on 5th Plenary Meeting of 7th C.C., WPK,” KCNA, January 1, 2020,
129 Michael Elleman, “Does Size Matter? North Korea’s Newest ICBM,” 38 North, October 21, 2020,
130 Joseph Bermudez, “Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility,” Beyond Parallel, May 5, 2020,
131 Shea Cotton, “Expect a Surge in North Korean Missile Tests, and of Greater Range,” Defense News, April 10, 2020,
132 Oh Seok-min, “N. Korea Fires 2 Short-Range Ballistic Missiles toward East Sea: JCS,” Yonhap News Agency, March 21, 2020,; Michael Elleman, “Preliminary Assessment of the KN-24 Missile Launches,” 38 North, March 25, 2020,
133 U.S. Department of Defense, North Korean Tactics, July 2020,
134 S/2020/840, August 28, 2020, p. 7.
135 S/2020/840, August 28, 2020, pp. 7-8. On the analysis that North Korea continues to operate and modernize the facilities in Pyongsan, see also Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha, “Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant (Nam-chon Chemical Complex),” Beyond Parallel, May 29, 2020,
136 “IAEA Suspects Kangson Facility of Enriched Uranium Production,” Hankyoreh, November 20, 2020,
137 Olli Heinonen, “New Evidence Suggests Kangson Is Not a Uranium Enrichment Plant,” 38 North, December 18, 2020,

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