New Delhi: Pakistan has stored its nuclear weapons in at least nine locations, suggest recent assessment by American scientists. The neighbour nation also has a rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal systems “of 130–140 warheads and an increasing portfolio of delivery systems.”
Out of the nine locations, four are near Pakistan's Punjab, three near Sindh province and one each around Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The report published by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) says “Islamabad is quantitatively and qualitatively increasing its arsenal and deploying weapons at more sites, yet the locations are difficult to pinpoint.”
The report, authored by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, estimates that Pakistan has stored its nuclear arsenal in the following nine locations:
1. Akro Garrison, Sindh (Possible underground weapons storage site)
2. Gujranwala Garrison, Punjab (Possible weapons storage with components in remote depot)
3. Khuzdar Garrison, Balochistan (Possible underground weapons storage site)
4. Masroor Depot (Karachi), Sindh (Potential storage of bombs for Mirage Vs at Masroor AB)
5. National Development Complex (Fatehjang), Punjab (SSM launcher assembly and potential warhead component storage)
6. Pano Akil Garrison, Sindh (Possible weapons storage with components in remote depot)
7. Sargodha Depot, Punjab (Possible storage site of bombs for F-16s at nearby Sargodha AB and warheads for SSMs)
8. Tarbala Underground Depot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Potential warhead storage)
9. Wah Ordnance Facility, Punjab (Possible warhead production, disassembly, and dismantlement facility)
The scientists used commercial satellite images, expert studies, and local news reports and articles to derive the locations.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on September 20 threatened to attack India, claiming that Islamabad has access to short-range nuclear weapons and will not deter to use it against the Indian Army.
The country's statement came amid North Korea's escalating threats of nuclear warfare.
Abbasi further said that the country's nuclear arsenals are safe and secure. "We have a very robust and secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets," he said.
Expressing doubts, a previous FAS study on Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons suggested that instability in Pakistan can lead to radicals and extremists taking over the nuclear arsenal.
“...instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question. Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan’s nuclear complex. While U.S. and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards,” it stated.