Racing to beat India in the nuclear race, Pakistan has already stockpiled more nuclear warheads than India and has produced enough fissile material to double its nuclear arsenal, according to a new report.
While India is estimated to have assembled 60-80 warheads and produced enough fissile material for 60-105 nuclear warheads, Pakistan is estimated to have assembled 70-90 warheads and produced fissile material for as many as 90 warheads, it says.
The disclosures posing a new headache for New Delhi are made in a report on 'Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, 1945-2010' by top US nuclear experts and researchers Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen for the prestigious Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
India and Pakistan are both increasing their nuclear forces and building new plutonium production reactors, which could add to their fissile material stocks, Norris of the Natural Resources Defence Council and Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said.
However, the stockpiles of the four nations not recognized as nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea -are minuscule in comparison with those of Russia and the United States.
For instance, 'India and Pakistan have a combined total of approximately 150 nuclear warheads, just a few more than what is carried on a single US Trident submarine,' the report noted.
As Russia and the United States continue to reduce their Cold War arsenals, global inventories of nuclear weapons will continue to decline, the report said.
'Yet eight of the nine nuclear weapon states continue to produce new or modernised nuclear weapons, and all nine insist that nuclear weapons are essential for their national security.'
Russia and the United States have recommitted to maintaining a triad of nuclear strategic forces and China is seeking to build a triad, and France and Britain have pledged to keep their nuclear weapons, the report said.
'Whether Israel's nuclear arsenal remains opaque probably will depend on Iran, which appears to be as few as four and as many as 10 years away from joining the nuclear club, depending upon different estimates,' it said.
The total world nuclear stockpile dropped to about 23,300 last year as a result of reduction agreements by the US and Russia. Nonetheless, those two countries still have 95 percent of all nuclear weapons in the world.
Russia topped the list with 12,000 warheads, followed by the US (9,400), France (300), China (240), and the UK (225).
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)