WASHINGTON: Pakistan is expanding its nuclear arsenal+ and has developed an estimated stockpile of 130 to 140 warheads for delivery as well as converting some of its fighter jets, including F-16s to deliver nukes, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists said in its latest report.
Authored by Hans M Kristensen+ and Robert S Norris, the report says thatanalysis of a large number of commercial satellite images+ of Pakistan army’s garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be mobile launchers and underground facilities that might be related to nuclear forces.
“Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile materials production industry,” said the report on Pakistani nuclear forces, 2016.
“We estimate that Pakistan now has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 130-140 warheads. This stockpile exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 that Pakistan by 2020 would have 60-80 warheads,” said the report released last month.
According to the scientists, with several delivery systems in development, four plutonium production reactors and its uranium enrichment facilities expanding, Pakistan’s stockpile will possibly increase further over the next 10 years.
“Speculation that Pakistan may become the world’s third-largest nuclear weapon state – with a stockpile of some 350 warheads a decade from now – are, we believe, exaggerated, not least because that would require a buildup two to three times faster than growth over the past two decades,” it said.
“We estimate that its stockpile could more realistically grow to 220-250 warheads by 2025, if the current trend continues. If that happens, it would make Pakistan the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state.