STOCKHOLM : Nuclear powers continue to modernise their arsenals, researchers said on Monday, warning that tensions were rising and the outlook for arms control was ''bleak''.

''The loss of key channels of communication between Russia and the US .....could potentially lead to a new nuclear arms race,'' said Shannon Kile, director of the nuclear arms control programme at the Stockholm international Peace Research Institute [SIPRI] and co-author of the report.

Russia and the US account for more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons.

Kile was referring to the future of the New START treaty between the US and Russia, which is set to expire in February in 2021. It is the final nuclear deal still in force between the two superpowers, aimed at maintaining their nuclear arsenals below Cold War levels.

''Discussions to extend New START or to negotiate a new treaty made no progress in 2019,'' the SIPRI researchers noted.

At the same time, nuclear superpowers continue to modernise their weapons while China and India are increasing the size of their arsenals.

''China is in the middle of a significant modernisation of its nuclear arsenal. It is developing a so-called nuclear triad for the first time, made up of a new land and sea-based missile and nuclear-capable aircraft,'' SIPRI said.

The country has repeatedly rejected Washington's insistence that it join any future nuclear arms reduction talks. [AFP].


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