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.