Pakistan has fastest growing nuclear weapons programme in the world: report

Published: November 24, 2014
The intermediate range Shaheen 1A (Hatf IV) ballistic missile (range of 900 kms) being tested. PHOTO: ISPR

The intermediate range Shaheen 1A (Hatf IV) ballistic missile (range of 900 kms) being tested. PHOTO: ISPR

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear weapons programme in the world and could have enough fissile material to produce more than 200 nuclear devices by 2020, an influential American think tank said in a report.

The special report by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) titled “Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age”, also identified South Asia as the region “most at risk of a breakdown in strategic stability due to an explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, cross-border terrorism, and growing nuclear arsenals.”

Pakistan, the report said, has deployed or is developing 11 delivery systems for its nuclear warheads, including aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

“Pakistan has not formally declared the conditions under which it would use nuclear weapons but has indicated that it seeks primarily to deter India from threatening its territorial integrity or the ability of its military to defend its territory,” the report added.

Further, the report said, while Pakistan is focused predominantly on the threat posed by India, it is reportedly also concerned by the potential for the United States to launch a military operation to seize or disarm Pakistani nuclear weapons.

“This concern is based in part on reported contingency planning by the US military to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists,” said the report.  Pakistani officials, however, deny that these concerns affect Pakistan’s nuclear force posture or plans.

The report, authored by George Mason University’s Gregory Koblentz, notes that India and Pakistan face more severe security challenges than those of the other nuclear weapon states due to their history of high-intensity and low-intensity conflicts, higher levels of domestic instability, geographic proximity, the dispute over Kashmir that has existential implications for both countries, and the history of cross-border terrorism.

“The next crisis between India and Pakistan could be sparked by a
cross-border military incursion, a mass-casualty terrorist attack or a
high-profile assassination,” the report added.

Further, the report said, the size and composition of Pakistan’s nuclear forces appear increasingly dictated by India’s growing conventional military capabilities.

“Pakistan’s reliance on nuclear weapons to compensate for its conventional inferiority will likely be an enduring feature of the nuclear balance in South Asia,” said the report.

The report also highlights a ‘worrisome’ development that the Indian and Pakistani practice of storing their nuclear warheads separately from launchers, which has provided a strong barrier to nuclear escalation in the past, may be eroding.

Pakistan’s deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on short-range missiles and India’s development of a sea-based deterrent may lead both states to loosen their highly centralised command and control practices, the report notes.

“The short flight times of ballistic missiles between India and Pakistan exacerbate these tensions by sharply reducing decision-making timelines for government officials during a crisis,” said the report.

The CFR special report calls for a long-term negotiating effort by the United States with the other six recognised nuclear states (China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the United Kingdom) to address specific sources of instability, including missile defense, antisatellite weapons, and conventional counterforce systems.

Further, to improve the prospects for stability in South Asia, the report recommends encouraging official and Track II dialogues among China, India, and Pakistan on nuclear issues, and building scientific and diplomatic capacity in India and Pakistan to enable discussions on these subjects.

The report also urged the Obama administration to deepen bilateral and multilateral dialogues with the other nuclear weapon states on strategic stability and build capacity within India and Pakistan to participate in such dialogues.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • Hamid
    Nov 24, 2014 - 6:35PM

    We don’t need arms we need investment in education and welfare of our people. We don’t need big army, we want peace with India and other neighbours


  • StrikerX
    Nov 24, 2014 - 6:42PM

    Nobody bats an eye on USA and Russia’s nuclear stockpile. Not to forget the Indian nuclear program which is equally more drastic as any other for the region stability. RIP unbiased reporting!


  • Cynic Waheed
    Nov 24, 2014 - 6:48PM

    Looking at the affressive Indian posturing, I am totally for it – this is the only way India can be dettered! Our Army has got it spot on, our Big neighbour will only be kept at bay if it knows that it wont be spared in case of a war!!!

    And Hamid, please knock some sense into yourself! Looking at how Modi sarkar is, do you really think they give a hoot about peace? Stop living in la la land, and get to senses! If we didnt have the nukes, beleieve you me India would be all over us by now!

    I am anticipating huge Indian outcry now, esp by the likes of hedgefunder, who has nothing better to do other than bash Pak here! And ET, please for the love of god, publish this! Thanks.


  • ali khan
    Nov 24, 2014 - 6:48PM

    @Hamid: peace comes from a position of self strength! very proud of pakistan! keep it up guys. this is the only thing that is keeping our enemy at bay!!!


  • Eddied
    Nov 24, 2014 - 7:15PM

    Nuclear weapons are a terrible investment…they are very expensive and they can never be used…they provide a deterrent only…and that deterrent can be maintained with just a few warheads…there is no advantage to have hundreds of them…


  • Chachoo
    Nov 24, 2014 - 7:47PM

    @Hamid: Ah so sweet and same age old adage. In any country defense and development goes side by side. Due to the Geo-strategic location our country have to develop it means to protect itself. Do you know in the 1960s Afghan forces entered in many regions of Pakistan ans even they reached Bajaur. Afterwards when Pakistan increased its defense budget and warned them then these incursions came to a halt.
    Similarly on the other side of the border India have done incursions since 1949. Now why there is now War like situation between the two countries is the nuclear deterrence. Call me a conservative person or whatever but the only reason Pakistan was not invaded just like Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan are the Nuclear weapons. You like it or not but Nuclear Deterrence is proving to be a great determinant for us.
    Do you that India is increasing its defense budget to the tune of more than 15 percent per year. Why they doing such rapid expansion when they want peace in this region??Similarly India has a well established RAW presence in border areas of Pakistan. These measures are obviously not promoting education in this region. Recently Afghanistan established KHAD whose primary objective is to undergo cross-border violations and to destabilize Pakistan. KHAD is like a third party for America and India.
    So given these circumstance only naive people will give statements like yours. Education and Development is vital but we have to put the Hostile Super power and our neighbors at bay as well should be our primary objective as well. I am telling you the day you will lose your nuclear weapons the next day All world powers will feast on your land and that is a fact.


  • Faisal Saeed
    Nov 24, 2014 - 8:16PM

    There’s something sickeningly wrong with this country whose taking pride in it rather than being alarmed. Meanwhile People dieing in Thar out of starvation, 5.5 million children that are out of school, the second highest number in the world only after Nigeria, Prevailing Polio virus, Unemployment, Inadequate basic life necessities and what not.


  • salim
    Nov 24, 2014 - 8:22PM

    public suffers because of this Zero return investment


  • Someone
    Nov 24, 2014 - 8:23PM

    @Chachoo – mate you are spot on! Im surprised, ET published your comment – and Hamid bhai seriously before you can consider eductaion you need to survive – Wat good is education if you cant defend yourself? you cant fight India’s military by pens and books unless you are burka avenger! More Nukes I say till India finally gets it that we Pakistanis are born not to be intimidated, we always have a way around you! Enough said!


  • Nabeel
    Nov 24, 2014 - 8:25PM

    It is heartening to know that we are well defended and that India or any other enemy of Pakistan dare not pose a threat to our sovereignty.

    People speaking of peace with India are either naive or delusional. They forget that indians have voted in Modi as prime minister of India, a mass murderer of muslims during his chief minister ship in Gujarat.Recommend

  • Someone
    Nov 24, 2014 - 8:26PM

    @Faisal Saeed – People are dying in India too! Or are they not? Stop hiding behind Pakistani names.. Please! And ET you are next level is posting dregarotory comments again Pakistan – Really I salute your freedom of speech!


  • cautious
    Nov 25, 2014 - 12:53AM

    I wonder how many nukes it will take before Pakistani military feels it has enough? I wonder whether any politician has the guts to say “enough” were going to spend the money on clean water, health care, sewers, education and otherwise improve the infrastructure that helps do something productive for the people/economy.


  • Striver
    Nov 25, 2014 - 12:59AM

    Gentlemen it is acknowledged by international military journals that India’s indigenous “Akash” and “Trishul” programs for surface to air missiles failed years ago. Trishul was eventually canceled entirely.

    India bought over $300 million worth of Barak(sam) missiles as a substitute for the indigenous but long-delayed Trishul

    They then got in touch with Russia and developed PJ-10 BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

    They also got in touch with Israel. In February 2006, Israel and India signed a joint development agreement to create a Barak-NG medium shipborne air defense missile.

    Israel Aerospace Industries will be the key partner with India’s DRDO.

    So India is not far behind Pakistan and desperately searching for outside assistance to build its nuclear arsenal.

    The region is doomed. India fails to acknowledge its stupidity in pushing Pakistan to the point where it has had to become the fasted nuclear war-head developing country. The region is doomed because of Indian hegemonic designs.


  • LS
    Nov 25, 2014 - 2:41AM


    What proof do you have that Modi was involved? Though one of you directly called for massacre that killed more than 10000 people.. Why do you forget that and there is a historical recorded fact. Modi was just accused. Your case it was a direct call recorded in history.


  • Asif Siddiqi
    Nov 25, 2014 - 3:03AM

    As an expat … i always get shocked how we as Pakistani’s react to these reports. Let US publish what ever it wants. We need to have our own strategy to doing things and an attitude of caring less. But that would require sensible leadership in which we are as barren as Thar.


  • Usman
    Nov 25, 2014 - 4:04AM

    This is fantastic news and a moment of pride for Pakistan. As if we are the only country in the world with problems? The same deluded liberals who lecture fellow Pakistanis on giving up its right to defense, and become lambs, do not raise a finger on the Billions of dollars in corruption in parliament, a fraction of which could solve Pakistan’s poverty problem, but no, we should sell our nuclear assets instead of reducing corruption. Pathetic.


  • Mazher Mehboob
    Nov 25, 2014 - 5:31AM

    What you sow so shall you reap

    RIP Education


  • Usman
    Nov 25, 2014 - 7:51AM

    @Faisal Saeed: Why, are there no poor in India? Or Russia, or the US? The same people who are burning on the inside due to our Nuclear Programme would want us to do nothing about the Billions of dollars of corruption, a fraction of which would solve our poverty, which is far far less than India. These same people would rather us sell our nuclear programme for aid. Well look at Ukraine.


  • truthplease
    Nov 25, 2014 - 8:57AM


    Speak all you want. Who cares!? And, yes we will buy more and develop more weapons. Try catching up with India and end banckrupt. No one cares for it either.


  • Usman
    Nov 25, 2014 - 8:58AM

    @Cynic Waheed: You’re lucky the mod posted your comment, very out of character for the mod I have to say, who is usually content with Indian trolls ruin the website.


  • Tamil Arasan
    Nov 25, 2014 - 9:12AM

    “India should use resources to fight against poverty, not against Pakistan: JI ” above statement I read yesterday and it’s no way related to the above news…!! By the way what is the status of dying kids in drought-hit Tharparkar…?? what is the status of JI now…?


  • Sneha
    Nov 25, 2014 - 9:28AM

    Pakistan can have as much nukes it wants if if can garantee its in sane minded people hands and never fall in the hands of banned groups.
    Point is if enemy country can be wiped off in 10 nukes. Why do all countries need 200/5000 and keep on increasing? Isn’t it hard to maintain security wise and risk?

    @ali Khan @chachoo you had nukes (100) before too. It didn’t make your country any less of a threat or non existent for an enemy to attack you. Same way 200 doesn’t make it any more threatening then hundred. Nukes are nukes 1 or 200. It’s a threat period.


    Nov 25, 2014 - 9:37AM

    DEAR ALL ,
    proud to be pakistani …long live pakistan .emerging power in asia


  • Samad
    Nov 25, 2014 - 9:58AM

    Dear All,
    Defense and Economics are two different things, but both need to be coexists, with out defense you can’t even live with a free will, and with out best of economics we can’t grow, spending on defense doesn’t means we should spend more on education or healthcare, Remember!!! our country governance is filled with corruption, and only defense department is working to save what is left for us, when politics failed which is always…. then only defense is what we have to protect us by God Will.


  • LS
    Nov 25, 2014 - 10:04AM

    Not that we care much for Painted missiles that number less than 50 in each category which barely stands at 6. You pointed at 1 that failed which is ok because things fail when they are being developed. Painted ones don’t and doing minor adjustments on painted ones also don’t fail.

    For one (Trishul) that failed we have many that are successful, lastly let me remind you Akash did not fail and has already been inducted.

    Moreover none of these matter if you don’t have nuclear material or Uranium for it and Pakistan no external source to get the uranium except a few mines that produces minuscule amount of Uranium… and your stock pile isn’t more than 1150 tonnes. Out of which the consumption rate of for your own reactors is very high….

    so no point being smug for pointless reasons


  • Pity
    Nov 25, 2014 - 10:35AM

    Another report to rob India of its sleep.


  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Nov 25, 2014 - 11:02AM

    The neighbors must not be afraid of the fastest growing Pakistani nuclear capability because this is only for peace and minimum deterrence for Pakistan’s defence………


  • LS
    Nov 25, 2014 - 3:25PM

    @Aschraful Makhlooq:
    No we are not afraid, We are simply wondering about the interpretation of the report from “Stockholm International Peace Research Institute”. The report is to be seen in the light where having large amount of WMD is detrimental to peace but this article puts it in a way as if its something to be proud of…

    However, it is a worry some development because the Pakistan’s policy is to USE these WMD at the first instance Pakistan feels threatened economically, militarily, Politically or Spatially or or even if feels cornered by sanctions. In fact your Policy explicitly states India multiple times. There are only 2 countries in the world who have “NFU” as their policy and those are China and India.


  • goldconsumer
    Nov 25, 2014 - 4:18PM

    Oh yes, the Americans!
    The final authority on accurate statistics. But what about the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction?


  • goldconsumer
    Nov 25, 2014 - 4:29PM

    Yup. We also have a lot of accused and released Talibans. People blame the courts. I think by your logic we should make these Talibans, some important ministers if not the PM. Why carry out an operation against them? Many “accused and released” people were found dead in Waziristan operations. Innocent victims of war and possible candidates for Pakistan’s PM ship!


  • Tony Singh
    Nov 25, 2014 - 4:39PM

    Since when did “Faisal Saeed” become a “Pakistani” name? Pakistan has not applied or has copyright on it.


    Nov 25, 2014 - 6:21PM

    @Cynic Waheed:
    Well put and thanks for such true comment.


  • Chachoo
    Nov 26, 2014 - 12:52AM

    @Sneha: Pakistan dont need any number of nuclear weapons to destroy any country. If you read my comment then i used the word Deterrent. Pakistani weapons are a deterrence only. Sometimes in order to establish peace you need it. America and Russia’s Cold War came to an end without any Proper conventional fight since both of these countries know that they are equipped with Non Conventional weapons.
    Similarly Pakistan is not developing any technology to destroy any country rather it is important to have a balance in this region and to keep Silly and Rogue countries like India and Afghanistan at bay and to hinder them from any misadventure.


  • Satish Khurana
    Nov 26, 2014 - 2:55AM

    If Pakistanis think India is a danger, they are wrong. Even Indians will not support any misadventure, no one can afford it. Second, if Pakistanis think nuclear weapons can save them from a foolish neighbour (which India is not), they are wrong. If we are stupid enough to attack you, we will do it any ways.Whosoever starts, both nations will finish.


  • LS
    Nov 26, 2014 - 4:50AM

    Not that we are great but unfortunately I don’t consider your Kangaroo courts as true representative of justice. We prosecute everyone from CM’s and ministers and Jail them if found guilty and there are lot of precedence. Unfortunately you have nothing to show for.


  • LS
    Nov 26, 2014 - 4:53AM

    Forgot one thing, yes its your choice to make anyone your PM or CM. Is there any difference between the current crop and the ones that you are recommending?


  • LS
    Nov 26, 2014 - 4:58AM

    One more thing you conveniently forgot your worst offender? Is he pardoned because he is one of you no matter what he did?


  • danyaal
    Nov 26, 2014 - 9:57AM

    We do not need huge investments in defence. We already are a nuclear power that is good enough now we need to strengthen our economy so we can repay the debts and stand as an independent state. What use is all this military equipment and missile system if we can’t even make our own decisions. People are dying in Tharparkar, Country is engulfed in terror, we have failed to eradicate polio, God forbid if Ebola hits we will be annihilated completely, no system against floods if India open waters we doomed, massive unemployment, zero education. So what good will be the missile system against these threats. Time to develop the infrastructure and boost economy. Wars can not be fought on empty stomach. Coming wars will not be fought at the borders but within the country among the people are we prepared for that?

    A certain path is to be followed before you become a nuclear state nations developed nuclear arsenal when they were internally and economically strong. We have made nuclear weapon and hence we say we are developed country of Asia. with no electricity, with no industry running, with no clean, water no food, but yet we consider ourselves developed what a mind set. Wearing a new dress over a bruised and dirty body don’t make us what we are not.


  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Nov 26, 2014 - 10:59AM

    Every country in this world has equal rights to make its defence stronger not only India,US and other Western and European countries.And when nuclear weapons’ matter is discussed to remove then India,US,Western and other European countries also must have to take the steps first to remove nuclear weapons then have to say the other countries for removal…..


  • JSM
    Nov 26, 2014 - 4:27PM

    Congratulations Pakistan!


  • paki
    Nov 30, 2014 - 10:17PM

    We are all doomed ! . There is no necessary need for India to fear us .when our nuclear weapons fall in the wrong hands , that’s enough to blow us up.we need education and clean water not nukes that will one day fall in wrong hands and nuke ourselves.Recommend

  • Nasir
    Feb 5, 2015 - 10:36AM


    Brother peace is always maintained by power. If you are militarily weak the powerful India will crush you under its feet like ants. Can people of Kashmir and Palestine get peace from their powerful occupiers? Never!


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