The release of the report coincides with the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the US.
Pakistan is on course to become the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons state, a top US think-tank said, estimating that the country’s warheads would more-than-double to 250 in the next ten years. “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’ released by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The release of the report coincides with the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the US. “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 said. The report comes just a day after Pakistan acknowledged having developed “low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons” to “deter” a possible attack from India. Authored by Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris, the report, however, said there are two key factors that will determine the number of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile: 1.How many nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy, and 2.How much India’s nuclear arsenal grows. Based on Pakistan’s record in the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapon deployment, the authors estimate that the country’s stockpile could realistically grow to 250 warheads by 2025, making it the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state. Pakistan appears to have six types of operational nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, plus at least two more under-development — the short-range Shaheen-1A and the medium-range Shaheen-3. Pakistan is also developing two new cruise missiles, the ground-launched Babur (Hatf-7) and the air-launched Ra’ad (Hatf-8), it said. According to the report, there are signs that Pakistan is developing a nuclear weapon – probably a nuclear-capable cruise missile – for deployment on submarines. 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 said that this command would be the “custodian of the nation’s second-strike capability” to “strengthen Pakistan’s policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence and ensure regional stability”.
2015 Kashmir Despatch