“Pakistan has 170 nuclear warheads, poised to cross 200 by 2025” International think-tank’s report raises alarm for India


By Tapan Moharana

Biznextindia: Despite a near bankrupt economy, Pakistan has continued to increase its nuclear stockpile raising concerns for India and the world, the Bulletin of Atomic scientists has said in its latest report.

According to the bulletin, Pakistan has increased its nuclear arsenal to 170 and is expected to reach 200 by 2025. This is significantly higher than what the American Defense Intelligence Agency has predicted that the Islamic country would have 60-70 nuclear warheads by 2020.

“Pakistan continues to gradually expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems, and a growing fissile material production industry. Analysis of commercial satellite images of construction at Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be newer launchers and facilities that might be related to Pakistan’s nuclear forces” the Bulletin said.

The report further said, “We estimate that Pakistan now has a nuclear weapons stockpile of approximately 170 warheads. The US Defense Intelligence Agency projected in 1999 that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020 (US Defense Intelligence Agency 1999, 38), but several new weapon systems have been fielded and developed since then, which leads us to a higher estimate. Our estimate comes with considerable uncertainty because neither Pakistan nor other countries publish much information about the Pakistani nuclear arsenal”.

With the development of several new delivery systems, the presence of four plutonium production reactors, and the expansion of its uranium enrichment infrastructure, Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile possesses the potential for further growth in the coming years. The extent of this anticipated increase will hinge upon various factors, including Pakistan’s intentions regarding the deployment of nuclear-capable launchers, the evolution of its nuclear strategy, and the trajectory of India’s nuclear arsenal expansion. If the current growth rate persists, we estimate that Pakistan’s stockpile could reach approximately 200 warheads by the late 2020s. However, unless India significantly augments its own arsenal or substantially reinforces its conventional military capabilities, it is reasonable to assume that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal may not continue to expand indefinitely, but instead, it could stabilize as its ongoing weapons programs reach completion.

(Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda, and Eliana Johns, Pakistan nuclear weapons, 2023, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 79:5, 329-345, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2023.2245260)


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