In less than 10 years, Pakistan will have the third largest nuclear stockpile in the world, behind only the US and Russian Federation, two prominent US think tanks said in a report.
The report by the Carnegie Endowment for global 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.
Pakistan, which is now one of just five states outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has sought to be viewed as a “normal” state within the nuclear order, as evidenced by is quest for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and a civil nuclear deal similar to the one accorded to India.
The report stated that in the next few years, Pakistan’s large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices would become a growing advantage for the country. Meanwhile Pakistan is using pouring its entire stockpile of enriched uranium into nuclear weapons, while the country lags way behind in economic development, education and women’s rights.
Pakistan is producing four times the number of nuclear warheads annually as India, says the report.
While calling the report “overblown”, Mansoor Ahmed, nuclear expert at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, said “the world must understand … nuclear weapons are part of Pakistan’s belief system”. According to Dalton, the country recently added a fourth plutonium production reactor at its Khushab Nuclear Complex.
However, the authors point out that India has a larger economy and sizable nuclear infrastructure, and can outcompete Pakistan in fissile material and warhead production if it chooses to do so.
If it happens, Pakistan would have more nuclear weapons than France, China and UK that have 300, 250 and 225 nuclear weapons respectively.
The spokesman said that as a nuclear state, Pakistan’s policy is characterized by the utmost restraint and responsibility. Pakistan is expected to have as many as 350 within the decade. However, India’s army is firmly under civilian command, whereas Pakistan has had a history of frequent coups and its India-fixated generals wield significant power even when an elected government is in place.
The newspaper also quoted Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Pakistani security commentator, as saying that Islamabad’s nuclear program was conceived to deter New Delhi, implying that the rate of its expansion is inextricably linked to India’s program.