WASHINGTON - While acknowledging Pakistan’s steps to improve nuclear security, a Congressional report has said that the country’s “full spectrum deterrence” doctrine has increased risk of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, which it estimates has over one hundred warheads.

“A number of important initiatives, such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation programmes have improved Pakistan’s nuclear security,” Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report.

At the same time, the report repeated its concerns about Pakistan’s political stability, saying, “Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan’s nuclear complex.”

CRS is the independent research wing of the US Congress, which prepares periodic reports by eminent experts on a wide range of issues so as to help lawmakers take informed decisions. But its reports are not considered as the official view of Congress. The report said, “Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more.”

Noting that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against it, it said Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons and adoption of a doctrine called “full spectrum deterrence” have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal.

“Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal,” said the CRS report authored by Paul Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin.

Moreover, Pakistani and US officials argue that, since the 2004 revelations about a procurement network run by former Pakistani nuclear official AQ Khan, Islamabad has taken a number of steps to improve its nuclear security and to prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials, it said. A number of important initiatives, such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation programmes, have improved Pakistan’s nuclear security, the CRS said.

“Furthermore, continued Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons development could jeopardise strategic stability between the two countries.” it added.