Does Pakistan have a bigger nuclear arsenal than India?

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2015 13:21 IST

A non-profit organistaion that has tracked nuclear arsenals around the world for decades has in its newest report reiterated Pakistan’s lead over India in warhead estimates.

Pakistan has 120 to India’s 110, said the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, founded 70 years ago by the makers of American atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

The US has the largest arsenal with 4,804 nuclear warheads, Russia is a close second with 4,480, followed by the other three nuclear weapon states UK, France and China.

Pakistan, India and Israel, in that order, were the next three — but they are not nuclear weapon states. North Korea had a zero against its name, though it has the capability.

The report is in the form of a multimedia graphic, using numbers elicited from an in-house publication Nuclear Notebook written by members of the Federation of American Scientists.

The authors — Robert S Norris and Hans M Kristensen — have said pervasively that the US, Britain and France have been forthcoming with their number, but not the others.

For them, the authors have had to “rely more on information from Western intelligence organisations, expert studies, news media reports, and commercial satellite imagery”.

Their numbers, therefore, often come estimates, in a range.

In a 2014 Notebook report, they said Pakistan had “a rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal of 100 to 120 warheads and an increasing portfolio of delivery systems”.

India, they said in a 2012 report, has made 80-100 nuclear warheads though it is estimated to have produced enough weapons-grade plutonium for 100–130.

In all, these authors have previously said about 16,300 nuclear weapons existed till mid-2014, located at some 98 sites in 14 countries, including India and Pakistan.

Pakistan keeps them “dispersed” and “not at a central location”, secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in 2009. Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has spoken of deep tunnels.

India, on the other hand, “is thought to keep its nuclear warheads and bombs in central storage locations rather than on bases with operational forces”, Notebook authors have said.

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