Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists -- http://bos.sagepub.com/
Pakistan’s nuclear forces, 2011
AbstractThe US raid that killed Osama bin Laden has raised concerns about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. In the process of building two new plutonium production reactors and a new reprocessing facility to fabricate more nuclear weapons fuel, Pakistan is also developing new delivery systems. The authors estimate that if the country’s expansion continues, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile could reach 150–200 warheads in a decade. They assess the country’s nuclear forces, providing clear analysis of its nuclear command and control, nuclear-capable aircraft, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.
We estimate that Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 90–110 nuclear warheads, an increase from the estimated 70–90 warheads in 2009 (Norris and Kristensen, 2009). The US Defense Intelligence Agency projected in 1999 that by 2020 Pakistan would have 60–80 warheads (Defense Intelligence Agency, 1999); Pakistan appears to have reached that level in 2006 or 2007 (Norris and Kristensen, 2007), more than a decade ahead of predictions. In January 2011, our estimate (DeYoung, 2011) of Pakistan’s stockpile was confirmed in the New York Times by “officials and outsiders familiar with the American assessment,” who said that the official US estimate for “deployed weapons” ranged from the mid-90s to more than 110 (Sanger and Schmitt, 2011).1 With four new delivery systems and two plutonium production reactors under development, however, the rate of Pakistan’s stockpile growth may even increase over the next 10 years.
The Pakistani government has not defined the number and type of nuclear weapons that its minimum deterrent requires. But Pakistan’s pace of nuclear modernization—and its development of several short-range delivery systems—indicates that its nuclear posture has entered an important new phase and that a public explanation is overdue.