Pakistan rapidly developing its nuclear arsenal: Report

Published - April 11, 2012 09:31 am IST - Washington

Estimated to have more nuclear weapons than India, Pakistan is rapidly developing and expanding its atomic arsenal, spending about $ 2.5 billion a year to develop such weapons, a report has said.

“Pakistan has been rapidly developing and expanding its nuclear arsenal, increasing its capacity to produce plutonium, and testing and deploying a diverse array of nuclear-capable ballistic and cruise missiles,” said the report ‘Assuring Destruction Forever: Nuclear Modernisation Around the World’

“Pakistan is moving from an arsenal based wholly on HEU to greater reliance on lighter and more compact plutonium-based weapons, which is made possible by a rapid expansion in plutonium production capacity,” said the 150-page report by Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

“Pakistan is also moving from aircraft-delivered nuclear bombs to nuclear-armed ballistic and cruise missiles and from liquid-fuelled to solid-fuelled medium-range missile. Pakistan also has a growing nuclear weapons research, development, and production infrastructure,” it said.

According to the report Pakistan is estimated to have 90-110 nuclear weapons.

“A long-term concern now driving Pakistan’s nuclear programme is the US policy of countering the rise of China by cultivating a stronger strategic relationship with India. This may tie the future of Pakistan and India’s nuclear weapons to the emerging contest between the United States and China,” said the report.

Pakistan has a number of short—range, medium, and longer—range road—mobile ballistic surface—to—surface missiles in various stages of development.

“It has developed a second generation of ballistic missile systems over the past five years. It is estimated that Pakistan could have a stockpile of 2750 kg of weapon—grade HEU and may be producing about 150 kg of HEU per year,” it said.

Estimates suggest Pakistan has produced a total of about 140 kg of plutonium, the report said.

While not much information is available on the funding of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project, the report said estimates indicate that Pakistan spends about $ 2.5 billion a year on nuclear weapons.

Despite extensive foreign military assistance, Pakistan’s effort to sustain its conventional and nuclear military programmes has come at increasingly great cost to the effort to meet basic human needs and improve living standards, the report said.

India, the report says, is estimated to have 80-100 nuclear warheads.

“It is also developing a range of delivery vehicles, including land— and sea—based missiles, bombers, and submarines,” it said.

“While nuclear weapons used to be seen as a ‘necessary evil’, there is no more enthusiasm for India to become a bonafide nuclear weapon power that can exercise its military might in the region,” it said.

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