Paranoid about India, Pak eyes N-arsenal expansion

A newspaper said Pakistan is desperate to increase its nuclear arsenal size.

London: The acceleration of Pakistan`s nuclear arsenal is being driven by its ‘paranoia’ about India, according to a newspaper analysis.

Pakistan is desperate to increase its nuclear arsenal size as it eyes India`s rapidly growing economy and population. Although the numbers of weapons held by either country are small in comparison, the result of the nuclear competition between the two countries is reminiscent of the Cold War arms race between the US and USSR, an analysis in The Telegraph said.

While the perceived threat is China in India`s case, for Pakistan, the presumed enemy is India, and paranoia is driving the acceleration of Pakistan`s nuclear arsenal, it added.

Unable to match India`s defence expenditure, economy and population, Islamabad has relied on nuclear technology since the 1970s to provide a deterrent.

The latest escalation in tensions - with Pakistan saying it wants to maintain parity of stocks with India, which recently unveiled a nuclear-powered submarine - will come as no surprise to analysts, the report said.

Diplomatic cables released by whistle blower website WikiLeaks have provided snippets of information on Pakistan`s nuclear programme.

In a memo dated December 2008, Peter Lavoy, an intelligence officer briefing NATO’s Permanent Representatives on Afghanistan and Pakistan, stated that despite looming economic meltdown, "Pakistan was producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world".

Earlier that year, India and US signed a civil nuclear accord, sending shock waves through Pakistan where the deal was seen as allowing New Delhi access to international supplies of uranium for civilian projects- freeing domestic reserves for military use.

Other leaked cables also suggest that analysts believe Pakistan is concentrating on developing smaller, mobile nuclear devices to counter India`s conventional battlefield forces, and so need more fissile material, the report said.

Since then, India has won backing from the US to join a series of international nuclear forums, increasing Pakistan`s sense of isolation and nudging it closer to China, which recently announced plans to build a fifth civilian reactor for its ally, added the report, noting that the ‘result is a South Asian nuclear build-up’.