Expressing concern over Pakistan’s evolving “tactical nuclear weapons” doctrine, a top American spymaster on Tuesday warned about the increasing risks of an “incident” associated with the growing nuclear arsenal.
“Pakistan’s nuclear weapons continues to grow. We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident,” Defence Intelligence Agency Director Vincent Stewart told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Islamabad continues to take steps to improve its nuclear security, and is aware of the threat presented by extremists to its programs,” Stewart said in his testimony.
A Congressional report in January had estimated Pakistan’s nuclear warheads to be between 110-130 and that they are aimed at deterring India from taking military action against it
“Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more,” the Congressional Research Service said in the report.
Stewart also said Pakistan will face internal security threats from militants and separatist groups this year.
Islamic State’s branch in Afghanistan-Pakistan and al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent will remain significant security concerns for Islamabad, he said.
“Counter-insurgency operations along Pakistan’s Western border and paramilitary operations in Karachi have had some success in reducing violence and are likely to continue,” Stewart said.