Nuclear Weapons Current Affairs
According to recent report, Pakistan could become world’s 5th largest nuclear weapons state after Russia, United States, France and China in terms of possession of total nuclear warheads. Pakistan currently has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and its stockpile is expected to increase to 220 to 250 by 2025 (surpassing United Kingdom) if its current proliferation trend continues.
Key Findings of Report
The current estimate of 140 to 150 nuclear weapons with Pakistan exceeds projection made by US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020. Pakistan is continuing to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, delivery systems and growing fissile materials production industry.
The size of increase in Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will depend on many factors. Two key factors will be how many nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy, and how much Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Pakistan is developing several nuclear weapons delivery systems, four plutonium production reactor, and its uranium enrichment facilities are further expanding.
Pakistan is also modifying its nuclear posture with new short-range nuclear-capable weapon systems to counter military threats below the strategic level. Its nuclear program seeks to create full-spectrum deterrent that is designed not only to respond to nuclear attacks, but also to counter an Indian conventional incursion onto Pakistani territory.
According to updated count by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the number of nuclear warheads with nine nuclear countries has reduced from 14,935 at start of 2017 to 14,465 at start of 2018. These nine countries are United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. SIPRI is an independent think tank that uses open sources to compile such data since 1966.
SIPRI’s report Highilgihts
Out of 14,465 nuclear warheads at the beginning of 2018, 3750 are actually deployed. This compared with 14,935 warheads at the start of 2017. Russia (with 6850 nuclear warheads) and US (with 6450 warheads) hold 92% of world’s total nuclear warheads. However, they have long-term programmes under way to replace and modernise their nuclear warheads and nuclear weapons production facilities.
World’s nuclear powers are reducing their nuclear arsenals but they are also modernising, putting fresh and worrying focus on strategic deterrence. The reduction is due to arms control commitments by US and Russia in 2010 Treaty on Measures for Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START Treaty).
Britain has 215 nuclear warheads, France has 300, China has 280, India 130-140, Pakistan 140-150, Israel 80 and North Korea 10-20. These countries are either deploying or planning to deploy new nuclear weapons system. North Korea also demonstrated unexpected rapid progress in testing of two new types of long-range ballistic missile delivery systems for delivery of its nuclear weapons.