Pakistan to become world's 5th largest nuclear weapons state: Report
Pakistan currently has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is expected to increase to 220 to 250 by 2025 if the current trend continues, according to the latest report by authors keeping a track of the country's nukes. The current estimate of 140 to 150 nuclear weapons exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999. Here's more.
"We estimate that the country's stockpile could more realistically grow to 220 to 250 warheads by 2025 if the current trend continues. If that happens, Pakistan will become the world's fifth-largest nuclear weapon state," Hans M Kristensen, Robert S Norris, and Julia Diamond said in the report 'Pakistani nuclear forces 2018'. It was estimated that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020.
Kristensen, the lead author, is the Director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC.
"With several delivery systems in development, four plutonium production reactors, and its uranium enrichment facilities expanding, however, Pakistan has a stockpile that will likely increase further over the next 10 years," says the report. Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile materials production industry, according to the report.
"Analysis of a large number of commercial satellite images of Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be mobile launchers and underground facilities that might be related to nuclear forces," said the report. Two key factors on which the growth depends will be, how many nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows.
"Speculation that Pakistan may become the world's third-largest nuclear weapon state with a stockpile of some 350 warheads a decade from now is, we believe, exaggerated, not least because that would require a buildup two to three times faster than the growth rate over the past two decades," the authors said. Pakistan is modifying its nuclear posture with new short-range nuclear-capable weapon systems.
"This development has created considerable concern in other countries, including the United States, which fears that it lowers the threshold for nuclear use in a military conflict with India," the report added.