WASHINGTON (INP) - A startling new study on Pakistans nuclear weapons programme says that the country has the worlds fastest growing nuclear stockpile and could possess close to 200 nuclear warheads in a decade if the current rate of expansion continues.
While Indias stockpile of nuclear weapons is estimated to be between 80 and 100, Pakistans stockpile is already estimated to be slightly higher at around 100.
The report by US experts factors in the two new plutonium production reactors and a new reprocessing facility being built by Pakistan that would enable it to churn out greater quantities of weapon grade fuel.
The experts say that Pakistan is not only improving its nuclear delivery capability by introducing several new short-range missiles but has also increased its nuclear stockpile over the past two years.
We estimate that Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 90-110 nuclear warheads, an increase from the estimated 70-90 warheads in 2009, the report which analyses Pakistans nuclear forces says.
The report, which is due to be published next week, discusses the status of new missiles systems and aircraft being developed by Pakistan and notes that at the current rate of expansion, Pakistan could potentially match the future British stockpile of nuclear weapons.
The study also dismisses a recent report by a leading US magazine that suggested that Pakistan would overtake Frances nuclear stockpile by 2021.
At worst, it appears that Pakistans stockpile could approach the size of the British stockpile within a decade, but that depends on a lot of other factors such as how successful it is in bringing the new delivery systems up to full operational capability, Kristensen said.
The paper points at the successful launch of the Nasr short-range multi-tube ballistic missile as the most significant missile development by Pakistan in recent years that is designed to target troop formations as a tactical weapon.
While the report notes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its new delivery systems it suggests that recent developments indicate that new missile systems are more of a defensive posture than a threat to India.
The short-range ballistic missiles seem less about threatening Indian territory but about defending against an Indian invasion, Kristensen says.