Pakistan would become 5th largest nuclear stock holder by 2025
WASHINGTON: The report by Chicago-based think tank Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists predicts that the South Asian nation's stockpile of nuclear weapons will more than double over the next decade from its current arsenal of 110 to 130 warheads. The report estimate of 220 to 250 warheads based on Pakistan's performance over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployment could potentially place it just behind the U.S., Russia and France, and nearly on par with China's current stockpile of 250. The report release coincides with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to the U.S. this week, where Reuters reports, he is expected to tell President Barack Obama that limits on Pakistan's use of small tactical nuclear weapons are unacceptable. Such weapons, Pakistan says, are essential to any potential conflict with its neighbor and fellow nuclear power India with which it has fought three wars since their independence in 1947. While India's current nuclear doctrine espouses a strict no-first use policy, Pakistan does not provide any such guarantee particularly when it comes to India. Pakistan's nuclear program is India-centric,a Pakistani security official familiar with the country's nuclear program told Reuters and it exists to make war a no option. The Bulletin report recognizes this fact as well, highlighting two main considerations while analyzing Pakistan's projected nuclear expansion. Two key factors,it says, will be how many nuclear-capable launchers Islamabad plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows.