Pakistan could possess the world's third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in a decade, or have enough fissile material available for it, according to a new report.
It is currently behind US, Russia, France, UK and China — the five nuclear powers — and marginally ahead of India, according to this and multiple other recent estimates.
The new report released Thursday projects Pakistan could possess 350 weapons in 10 years. Or, as said before, the ability to make them with available fissile material.
And that would make Pakistan vault over France, China and UK — the number three, four and five powers — that have 300, 250 and 225 nuclear weapons respectively.
The US and Russia lead the count with an estimated 1,600 each.
Pakistan currently possess about 120 weapons (other estimates put in the 100-130 range), followed by India with around 100 (in the 80-100 range) and Israel with 80.
But, the report, jointly by think tanks Carnegie and Stimson Center, says Pakistan is on course to more presuming India is sitting on a larger stockpile of fissile material.
It has, therefore, fixed a target for itself to produce 20 nuclear warheads a year. Authors put its capacity at between 14 and 27 nuclear weapons a year, to India's two and five.
Here is how the math works, in the report: "India has about 600 kilograms of plutonium, while Pakistan has about 170 kilograms of plutonium and 3.1 metric tons of HEU (highly enriched uranium, which is inferior to the lighter plutonium).
"Assuming that each nuclear weapon would require five kilograms of plutonium or 15 kilograms of HEU, with existing stockpiles of fissile material India could theoretically construct up to 120 weapons, while Pakistan could construct up to 240.
India lags behind, the report argues, because of the "reluctance and ambivalence (of its leadership) to invest greater urgency and more resources in this competition".
Also, the authors concede, India is focussed elsewhere — "it pursues high-profile strategic modernization programs geared more toward China than Pakistan".