Pakistan could turn into the fifth largest nuclear weapons state in the world by 2025, a report by a top US think tank has predicted.
“Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 110 to 130 warheads, an increase from an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in 2011,” the report titled ‘Pakistani nuclear forces 2015’ read.
While those figures show a steady but expected increase, the report authored by Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris estimated that by 2025 the figure would rise to 220 to 230 warheads. The estimate is based on Pakistan’s record over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployments.
“With several delivery systems in development, four operating plutonium production reactors, and uranium facilities, the country’s stockpile will likely increase over the next 10 years, but by how much will depend on many things,” it added.
The important factors will be the number of nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy and how much India’s nuclear arsenal grows, the report further said.
“India is paying more attention to China in its nuclear planning than Pakistan,” Kristensen said, adding that he hoped Islamabad’s “nuclear plans does not set off an action-reaction route”.
The report further added that Pakistan currently has six types of operational nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, adding at least two more are under development – the short-range Shaheen-1A and medium-range Shaheen-3.
Further, it said Pakistan is developing two new cruise missiles, the ground-launched Babur (Hatf-7) and the air-launched Ra’ad (Hatf-8). It also claimed Pakistan is developing a sea-based nuclear capability, referring to a submarine that could carry nuclear warheads.
The report comes a day after Pakistan admitted having developed “low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons” to deter an attack by India and coincides with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the US. The premier is due to meet US President Barack Obama and, according to Pakistani officials, he is expected to tell the president that Pakistan will not accept limits on its use of small tactical nuclear weapons.
This article originally appeared on NDTV