Pakistan can become the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons state, according to a report by a top US think-tank. The agency has estimated that Pakistan’s stockpile is on course to increase to 250 warheads until 2025.
“Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 110 to 130 warheads, an increase from an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in 2011,” said a report on ‘Pakistani nuclear forces 2015′ brought out by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The release of the report coincides with Pakistan PM’s visit to the US.
Based on Pakistan’s performance over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployment, the report has estimated that the country’s stockpile could realistically grow to 220 to 250 warheads by the year 2025, making it the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapon state.
The report authored by Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris mentioned two key factors which will play a vital role in determining Pakistan’s nuke prowess. One, the number of nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy, and the rise of India’s nuclear arsenal.
“With several delivery systems in development, four operating plutonium production reactors, and uranium facilities, the country’s stockpiles will likely increase over the next 10 years, but by how much will depend on many things,” the report stated.
As of now, Pakistan appears to have six types of operational nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and at least 2 more are under-development. These are the short-range Shaheen-1A and the medium-range Shaheen-3, the report said.
Pakistan is also developing two new cruise missiles – the ground-launched Babur (Hatf-7) and the air-launched Ra’ad (Hatf-8). There are signs that Pakistan is developing a nuclear weapon, probably a nuclear-capable cruise missile, for deployment on submarines, the report added.
In 2012, Pakistani Navy established Headquarters Naval Strategic Forces Command (NSFC) for the development and deployment of a sea-based strategic nuclear force. The government had then claimed that NSFC would be the “custodian of the nation’s second-strike capability” to “strengthen Pakistan’s policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence and ensure regional stability”.
This report seems to confirm the recent claim made by the Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry that the country had made low-yield nuclear weapons to counter India’s aggression.
(With inputs from PTI)