A new report by two American think tanks asserts that Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually and could have the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade. 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. Analysts currently estimate that Pakistan has about 120 nuclear warheads, while India has about 100. France has about 300 warheads and the United Kingdom has about 215, according to the Federation of American Scientists. China has approximately 250.
India and Pakistan are rivals. China and India are rivals. Any buildup of nuclear weapons by Pakistan will be matched by India. China will match any move by India. If Pakistan gets 350 nuclear weapons then India will have the same or more and China will have as much as both combined.
The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its archrival, India, also a nuclear power. The report, which will be released Thursday, says Pakistan is far outpacing India in the development of nuclear warheads.
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.
Pakistan is now competing successfully with — and in some respects is outcompeting — India. Paki- stan operates four plutonium production reactors; India operates one. Pakistan has the capability to produce perhaps 20 nuclear warheads annually; India appears to be producing about five warheads an- nually. But given its larger economy and sizable nuclear infrastructure, India is able to outcompete Pa- kistan in fissile material and warhead production if it chooses to do so. Pakistan has prepared for this eventuality by investing in a large nuclear weapons production complex. Whether New Delhi chooses to compete more intensely or not, it is a losing proposition for Pakistan to sustain, let alone expand, its current infrastructure to produce greater numbers of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery.
SOURCES – Washington Post, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center