Pakistan could become the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile after the United States and Russia within a decade, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
According to a new statistics conducted by two American think tanks, Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center’s report concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its archrival, India, also a nuclear power. The analysis says that Pakistan is far outpacing India in the development of nuclear warheads.
Analysts estimate that Islamabad has about 120 nuclear warheads, while New Delhi has about 100.
In the coming years, the report states, Pakistan’s advantage could grow dramatically because it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices.
India has far larger stockpiles of plutonium, which is needed to produce high-yield warheads, than Pakistan does. But the report says India appears to be using most of its plutonium to produce domestic energy.
Pakistan could have at least 350 nuclear weapons within five to 10 years, the report concludes. Pakistan then would probably possess more nuclear weapons than any country except the United States and Russia, which each have thousands of the bombs.
“The growth path of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by Pakistani officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices,” the report states.
Western officials and analysts have struggled for years to get an accurate assessment of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. Several Pakistani analysts questioned the findings of the report, saying it is based on a faulty assumption that Pakistan is using all of its existing stockpiles of fissile material to make nuclear weapons. Mansoor Ahmed, a nuclear expert at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, said that he suspects that a more accurate assessment of Pakistan’s capability is that it can develop no more than 40 to 50 new warheads over the next several years.
“This report is overblown,” said Ahmed, who was recently named a nuclear security fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “However. . . what the world must understand is that nuclear weapons are part of Pakistan’s belief system.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2015.