India lags behind Pakistan in nuclear armoury: US expert

NEW DELHI: The nuclear information director of Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Hans M Kristensen, has sought to settle the debate on India and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal by declaring that Pakistan doesn't only have more warheads and fissile material but also better delivery systems for such weapons.

Referring to a report in TOI last week, he said that India might again be discovering that Pakistan has a few more nuclear weapons than India. ``As far as I can gauge, apart from nuclear testing where India started first, Pakistan has always been a little ahead in warheads, fissile material and delivery systems,'' said Kristensen in his latest write-up for FAS.


The TOI report was based on a study carried out by Kristensen and Robert Norris which said that, apart from Pakistan having more nuclear warheads, it had fissile material for 90 more warheads. India, it said, had fissile material for 60-105 warheads.

Kristensen, however, went on to say that neither country can claim any nuclear moral high ground. ``Both are increasing their nuclear arsenals, both are producing more fissile material for nuclear weapons, and both are diversifying the means to deliver nuclear weapons and extending their range,'' he said. As per his latest estimate, while India has 60-80 warheads, Pakistan has 70-90.

``The two countries are now at a warhead level about equal to that of Israel (80 warheads). But whereas it took Israel 40 years to reach that level, India and Pakistan have done so in only 12 years. And they're apparently not done,'' he added.

Kristensen is also co-author of the `Nuclear Notebook' column in the `Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists', which claims to be the most accurate source of information on nuclear weapons and weapon facilities available to the public, and the `World Nuclear Forces' overview in the SIPRI Yearbook.

According to Kristensen, Indian and Pakistani security will probably be served better by trying soon to define just how big a nuclear force is sufficient for minimum deterrence so that "prudent planning" doesn't take them to a new and more dangerous level.

Although neither government wants to say so publicly, India and Pakistan are in effect in a nuclear arms race. It might not be of the intensity of the Cold War arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States, but it is a race nonetheless for capability and systems,'' he said.

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