A new report suggests that Pakistan could have the fifth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world by 2025


  • A report in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists predicts that Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile could increase to as much as 250 warheads by 2025.
  • This is a far cry from the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s 1999 prediction that Pakistan would have a maximum of 80 warheads by 2020.
  • According to the Federation of Atomic Scientists, Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with 6,850 warheads, followed closely by the US with 6,450 warheads.

In the recent past, Pakistan’s international detractors, which include the US and India, have come down on the country for its inability to curtail homegrown terrorist networks. However, a new report in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an academic journal related to security issues, could increase global pressure on Pakistan even further, this time for its rising nuclear capacity.

The report, entitled “Pakistani nuclear forces, 2018” is authored by three American scientists- Hans Kristensen, Robert Norris and Julia Diamond. The lead author, Kristensen, runs the Nuclear Information Project which falls under the purview of the Federation of American Scientists.

The authors pegged Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile at 140-150 warheads and predicted that this could increase to as many as 220-250 warheads by 2025 if current growth rates are maintained. If this is the case, Pakistan will have the fifth-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world within the next seven years. The assessment is based in part on the analysis of satellite imagery of Pakistan military facilities.

This is a far cry from the US Defense Intelligence Agency’s 1999 prediction that Pakistan would have a maximum of 80 warheads by 2020. In addition to its four plutonium reactors, Pakistan has been consistently increasing its inventory of short-range nuclear weapons and expanding its uranium enrichment facilities, the report said. Pakistan’s facilities will enable it to add as many as 20 nuclear warheads per year to its arsenal.

According to the Federation of Atomic Scientists, Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with 6,850 warheads, followed closely by the US with 6,450 warheads. France (300 warheads), China (280 warheads) and UK (215 warheads) round out the top five. India currently has between 130-140 warheads.

When confronted with the issue of its fast growing nuclear arsenal in the past, Pakistan has repeatedly downplayed the assertions and alluded to an inherent Western bias in favour of India, which while also increasing its stockpiles, is seen as less threatening.

The report’s findings come as the Trump administration engages North Korea on the subject of denuclearisation. While it could engage Pakistan in similar talks, Islamabad will likely curb the growth in its nuclear stockpile if it gets assurances that its immediate neighbour, India, will also do the same.
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