Pakistan may already have not just more nuclear warheads than India but also almost as much fissile material as India to assemble an almost equal number of more nukes, reports Times of India quoting a report on world nuclear stockpile by top US nuclear experts and researchers Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris for the prestigious Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
Titled `Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, 1945-2010', the report said Pakistan had already assembled 70-90 nuclear warheads against India's 60-80. Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists and Norris of National Resources Defense Council also said in the report that Pakistan had produced enough fissile material to manufacture 90 more warheads.
According to the report, India has fissile material to produce between 60 to 105 warheads which is almost the same as Pakistan. Islamabad has till nowalmost single-handedly blocked any forward movement on a fissile material cut-off treaty in the Conference on Disarmament saying that any ban on fissile material production would freeze the "asymmetry'' between the two countries.
India, on its part, has opposed Pakistan's contention with the understanding that it possesses much more fissile material than its neighbour. However, the report by Norris and Kristensen shows that India and Pakistan are actually almost neck and neck when it comes to possessing fissile material.
While stating that both countries were increasing their stockpiles, the report added that majority of Indian and Pakistani warheads were not "operationally deployed''. The report comes close on the heels of another report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which said Pakistan had 60 warheads and that it could produce 100 more at short notice.
The report estimated that China's nuclear arsenal comprised 240 warheads. It said China's warheads armed not just its old liquid-fuelled missiles but also the solid-fuel missiles which are now being introduced. "China also has a small inventory of air-delivered nuclear bombs. China keeps additional warheads in storage,'' it said.
The report said that as per the US intelligence community, China would increase its number of warheads on long-range ballistic missiles from 50 to well over 100 in the next 15 years. According to the report, China is also building a nuclear triad which will enable it to launch a nuclear strike from ballistic missiles, submarines and airborne strategic bombers and enhance its second strike capability.