(NationalSecurity.news) Is Pakistan set to become the world’s third-largest nuclear power, behind the United States and Russia?
Yes, according to a pair of U.S. think tanks that, in a new report, estimate Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads a year, meaning it would have the third-largest stockpile within a decade.
As reported by The Washington Post, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center have concluded that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities out of fears over archrival India, which is also a nuclear power.
The report, released Thursday, also notes that Pakistan is far and away outpacing India in the development of nuclear weapons.
Analysts estimate that Pakistan currently has about 120 nuclear warheads, while India retains about 100.
“In the coming years, the report states, Pakistan’s advantage could grow dramatically because it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices,” the Post reported, citing the think tanks’ study.
Conversely, India has much larger stockpiles of plutonium, necessary to produce high-yield warheads, than does Pakistan. However, the report says that India looks to be using most of its plutonium to produce energy domestically.
Within five to ten years, Pakistan could have as many as 350 nuclear weapons, the report concluded. If that happens, Pakistan will likely possess more nuclear weapons than any other country save the U.S. and Russia, each with thousands of weapons.
“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.
Several Pakistani analysts questioned the findings of the report, claiming that it is based on a faulty assumption that Pakistan is using all of its existing stockpiles of fissile material to make nuclear weapons, the Post reported.