India will likely be unsettled by the news its arch-nemesis Pakistan is being tipped to become the fifth largest nuclear power in the world. US researchers have branded the development “concerning.”
Pakistan’s nuclear capability has become of “considerable concern” to the US and other countries as its nuclear warheads are set to increase in number to between 220 and 250 by 2025, a new study carried out as part of the Nuclear Information project reveals.
The projections by the Federation of American Scientists far exceed those by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 which predicted Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020.
If the projections turn out to be true, Pakistan would become the world’s fifth largest nuclear power.
Pakistan is understood to have boosted its nuclear capability as a “full-spectrum deterrent” designed to fend off not just nuclear attacks, but also an Indian “conventional incursion into Pakistani territory.”
The study was likely alluding to a potential incursion by India in the mountainous region of Kashmir – the scene of a 67-year dispute between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim full sovereignty over the territory, which is currently divided between the two.
According to an assessment in July by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, (SIPRI) India trails Pakistan in terms of the number of nuclear warheads, possessing between 130 and 140.
But in July India said its deterrent capability is “robust” and that is ensures “survivability” for retaliatory strikes, while the modernization of its nuclear armament continues.
“This development has created considerable concern in other countries, including the United States, which fears that it lowers the threshold for nuclear use in a military conflict with India,” the ‘Pakistani nuclear forces 2018’ report reads.
Pakistan currently has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is expected to increase to 220 to 250 by 2025 if the current trend continues, according to the latest report by authors keeping a track of the country’s nukes.