[…]The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its archrival, India, also a nuclear power. The report, which will be released Thursday, says Pakistan is far outpacing India in the development of nuclear warheads.
Analysts estimate that Pakistan has about 120 nuclear warheads, while India has 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.
India has far larger stockpiles of plutonium, which is needed to produce high-yield warheads, than Pakistan does. But the report says India appears to be using most of its plutonium to produce domestic energy.
Pakistan could have at least 350 nuclear weapons within five to 10 years, the report concludes. Pakistan then would probably possess more nuclear weapons than any country except the United States and Russia, which each have thousands of the bombs.
Mansoor Ahmed, a nuclear expert at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, said he suspects that a more accurate assessment of Pakistan’s capability is that it can develop no more than 40 to 50 new warheads over the next several years.
Ahmed, however, doesn’t dispute that Pakistan’s military is seeking to expand its nuclear capabilities.
“This report is overblown,” said Ahmed, who was recently named a nuclear security fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “However . . . what the world must understand is that nuclear weapons are part of Pakistan’s belief system. It’s a culture that has been built up over the years because [nuclear weapons] have provided a credible deterrence against external aggression.”
France has about 300 warheads and the United Kingdom has about 215, according to the Federation of American Scientists. China has approximately 250.