Islamabad: In what is apparently a worrying development for India, its nuke-armed neighbour Pakistan may be on its way to build the world's third largest nuke arsenal within a decade, a Washington Post report said Thursday.
Pakistan is building 20 nuclear warheads annually and within a span of next ten years may attain least 350 nuclear weapons, which will be more than any other country except US and Russia which have over thousands of bombs each.
Authored by Toby Dalton, co-director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Nuclear Policy Program, and Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, the report suggests that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities “because of fear of its archrival, India”.
Currently, Pakistan is said to have 120 nuclear warheads, while India has about 100.
The report states that Pakistan may outpace India in the number of nuke warheads as it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices.
India on the other hand, possesses far larger stockpiles of plutonium, which is needed for high-yield warheads, but Pakistan lacks the same.
However, India is said to be using most of its plutonium to produce domestic energy, the report adds.
“The growth path of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by Pakistani officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices,” the report states.
However, the report has been termed "overblown" by a Pakistani nuke expert, Mansoor Ahmed, who claimed that Pakistan "can develop no more than 40 to 50 new warheads over the next several years".