The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reports that Pakistan is planning to extend its nuclear arsenal. The country has also developed a stock of around 130 to 140 warheads which also includes ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and fighter-bombers to handover and convert its fighter jets. They have a developing fissile materials production industry.
“With several delivery systems in development, four plutonium production reactors, and expansion of uranium enrichment facilities, the country’s stockpile will likely increase over the next 10 years”, says the report.
Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris prepared the report and it shows many commercial satellite images of Pakistan army’s garrisons and air force bases. The images seem to be mobile launchers and underground facilities that could be associated with nuclear forces. The US scientists have marked in the report that Pakistan has 10 facilities, five missile garrisons and two air bases with fighter-bombers. But there is no evidence about Pakistan’s count and location of capable nuclear bases.
Akro Garrison, Gujranwala Garrison, Khuzdar Garrison, Pano Aqil Garrison and Sargodha Garrison are the five nuclear-capable bases. Their primary Transporter Erector Launcher production facility is the National Development Complex, also called National Defense Complex.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency had estimated in 1999 that by 2020 Pakistan would own 60 to 80 warheads. But Pakistan’s present stock of warheads has exceeded the estimation. If the country’s present development continues, its stock can increase to 220 to 250 warheads by 2025. If this happens, Pakistan may well become the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state.
Hans M. Kristensen said, “Pakistan has a large number of air bases but only a small number is thought to be involved in the nuclear mission. This includes bases with Mirage and F-16 fighter-bombers. United States officials have stated that F-16s were sold to Pakistan on the condition that they could not be used to deliver nuclear weapons, but other sources have indicated that some of the planes were converted nonetheless. French-produced Mirage aircraft are widely assumed to be equipped to deliver the Ra’ad air-launched cruise missile.”
Pakistan’s future nuclear arsenal buildup may be contingent upon how much India expands
its nuclear program. Otherwise, it is believed that Pakistan’s expansion plans might level off after the completion of the present build-up.