Pakistan Could Soon Become World's 5th Largest Nuclear State: US Report

| September 6 , 2018 , 11:03 IST

Based on current trends, Pakistan could soon emerge as the world's 5th largest nuclear state, a report by the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in the US on Thursday has said.

The US Defence Intelligence Agency in 1999 had projected that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020, but by 2018 itself Pakistan has already crossed that number.

According to the report 'Pakistani nuclear forces 2018' by Hans M Kristensen, Robert S Norris and Julia Diamond, Pakistan currently has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is expected to increase to 220-250 is the trend continues.

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"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, it would make Pakistan the world's fifth-largest nuclear weapon state," the report said.

"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.

"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," it said.

"Speculation that Pakistan may become the world's third-largest nuclear weapon state - with a stockpile of some 350 warheads a decade from now - are, 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.

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"The efforts seek to create a full-spectrum deterrent that is designed not only to respond to nuclear attacks, but also to counter an Indian conventional incursion onto Pakistani territory," it said.

"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.

At present, there are 8 sovereign states that have successfully detonated nuclear weapons, out of which 5 are considered to be nuclear-weapon States (NWS) under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), namely the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China. Apart from the NPT nuclear states, 3 other nations that were not part of the treaty have conducted nuclear tests, namely India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Israel is also rumoured to have nuclear capabilities, but has not officially confirmed any tests taking place.