Pakistani Nuclear Forces 2011

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has doubled since 2004 and could double again in the next 10 years if the current trend continues, according to the latest Nuclear Notebook. Click on chart to download full size version.

By Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris

The latest Nuclear Notebook on Pakistan’s nuclear forces is available on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists web site. Since our previous Notebook on Pakistan in 2009 there have been several important developments.

Based on our own estimates, official statements, and fissile material production estimates produced by the International Panel of Fissile Materials, we conclude that Pakistan’s current nuclear weapons stockpile of 90-110 warheads might increase to 150-200 within the next decade. This would bring the Pakistani stockpile within range of the British stockpile, the smallest of the original five nuclear weapon states, but still far from that of France (despite some recent news reports to the contrary).

This development is precipitated by the anticipated introduction of several new nuclear delivery systems over the next years, including cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles. The capabilities of these new systems will significantly change the composition and nature of Pakistan’s nuclear posture.

India is following this development closely and is also modernizing its nuclear arsenal and fissile material production capability. The growing size, diversity, and capabilities of the Pakistani and Indian nuclear postures challenge their pledge to only acquire a minimum deterrent. Bilateral arms control talks and international pressure are urgently needed to halt what is already the world’s fastest growing nuclear arms race.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

3 thoughts on “Pakistani Nuclear Forces 2011

  1. I’d set the 2020 warhead count at at least 250. For one they also have a learning curve, and then I think they want to reach ~350 warheads asap, as that’s about the number that would be needed to hold all Indian urban centres at risk.

    And looking at their delivery vehicle programmes, I’d say they aim at sea-launched cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. With the current free falling bombs being just a gap filler.

    Btw, do you have any info about their capability to remake older warheads into newer smaller ones?

    Also: Any indications that they are working in higher yield warheads?

    Reply: Is it Pakistan’s policy to build enough warheads to hold all India urban centers at risk? What is the evidence that they’re working on a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile? I’m not aware of information about Pakistan’s capability to remake older warheads into newer smaller ones or work going on on higher yield warheads. HK

  2. As far as i know, Pakistan has pre-targeted atleast 27 target inside inside india. Among them 18 are related to major military-airforce-naval and indian ordinance sites and 9 being the urban center. I dont think any country on this earth would have ~350 urban centers (unless otherwise your classification of urban center is limited to 5 km radius).
    Until 2002 the major delivery system is based on modified F-16’s but succesful tests in MRBM change the delivery systems. it is now comprises on a- 40% surface to surface (srbm/mrbm). b- 25% Air dropped by F-16’s-migs. c- 20 % Air launched cruise missle- d- 5% precisely placed smuggled weapon inside urban centers. e- which is not developed and tested yet, 10% sea/submarine launch. note: all these weapons are placed and should be used tactically against the traget. examples- far east military targets are to be done by F-16 precise and confirm drop. far east non military sites be taken by surface to surface MRBM and so on.
    The NASR system is designed specifically to counter the “COLD START” military strategy adopted by india. It is design to be light weight, precise and shock n awe to disrput, dismantle any cold start like action taken by indian forces.
    Irony of the time is, that people and pundits, the most self acclaimed analyst call it a NUKE race but not as major as cold war. It is much more horrible scenerio then soviets vs US. They atleast had 28 minute reponse time to confirm and retaliate against the threat (being so far by each other). But India/Pakistan lies next to each other, there is no response time, not even for 30 seconds. IF a radars in Pakistan picks up a wrong signal or a fake threat, they do not have time To confirm the threat, but to retaliate in seconds. This is dooomed scenerio, and only big powers are responsible for it.

  3. No, its not the big powers who are responsible for this. It is India’s occupation of the Muslim majority state of Kashmir, which belongs to Pakistan under the Hindu-Muslim Majority-State partition. While the Indians were hell bent on partitioning Punjab and Bengal in 1947 with the Hindu-Muslim justification, and forcefully occupied Junagarh State (when its ruler signed his state to Pakistan) using the same Hindu-Muslim partition as a justification.

    Never mind its was India who introduced nuclear weapons to South Asia, forcing Pakistan to develop these nasty weapons in return.

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