KARACHI: Pakistan harbours 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 American think tank mentioned in its report released on Monday.
A 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 primarily needs the warheads to deter India from threatening its territorial integrity and for enhancing the ability of its military to defend its territory,” the report added.
Further, the report said, while Pakistan’s predominant focus is towards the threat posed by India, it is also concerned about US’ potential to launch a military operation to seize or disarm its nuclear arsenal.
“This concern is based on the reported contingency plan by the US military to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists,” said the report. Pakistani officials, however, state that these concerns do not affect their nuclear force posture or plans.
The report notes that India and Pakistan face more severe security challenges than those of the other armed states due to their history of conflicts, higher level of domestic instability, geographic proximity, the dispute over Kashmir that has existential implications for both countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2014.