A new paper by two American think tanks titled “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan” argues that Pakistan could have the third-biggest nuclear stockpile within a decade and could end up producing 20 nuclear warheads annually.
Furthermore, the report, co-written by two scholars of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center, notes that Islamabad is successfully competing with – and likely outperforming – New Delhi in the build-up of its nuclear arsenal.
“Pakistan operates four plutonium production reactors; India operates one. Pakistan has the capability to produce perhaps 20 nuclear warheads annually; India appears to be producing about five warheads annually,” the report states. Pakistan is estimated to possess around 120 nuclear weapons against India’s 100. However, “Whether New Delhi chooses to compete more intensely or not, it is a losing proposition for Pakistan to sustain, let alone expand, its current infrastructure to produce greater numbers of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery,” the study finds.
The authors use the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race, which was partially responsible for bankrupting the Soviet Union, as a historical analogy. “Just as the Soviet Union’s large nuclear arsenal was of no help whatsoever for its manifold economic and societal weaknesses, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons do not address its internal challenges,” the study emphasizes. The study also finds that while India enjoys an advantage in the production of fissile material due to its large power and prototype fast-breeder reactors, Pakistan dedicates more fissile material to the production of nuclear weapons: