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International Estimates About Pakistani Nukes Are Misleading: Experts

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistani nuclear experts say international estimates about the country’s nuclear arsenal are misleading and biased.

“Western think tanks have had a historical tendency to misreport Pakistan’s nuclear program as the fastest growing one, and downplay the scope of India’s nuclear capabilities,” executive director of The Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) Amb. Ali Sarwar Naqvi said at a webinar hosted by his institute on Pakistani and Indian nuclear programs.

The webinar was held to address the myths about the Pakistani programme, which are often peddled by the international media and certain academics. A report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) formed the background of the discussion.

The SIPRI report had suggested that the “size and diversity” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons was greater than that of India and that there was no openness about the “status or size” of the arsenals. The report had claimed that Pakistan had 160 warheads, which were 10 more than those in Indian arsenal

Senior Fellow at CISS Dr Naeem Salik said the difference of ten warheads between the arsenals of the two nuclear armed neighbours has been reported in most estimates for over a decade, which in itself is an admission that no country’s nuclear program was growing faster than the other.

Dr Salik said most of the estimates were mere wild guesses in the absence of accurate data about the key factors of warhead production including nature of weapon design, and capacity of plutonium production.

Director General of The South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) Dr Maria Sultan said the huge transition in India’s force posture from the No First Use doctrine to one of First Use, and the strategy of compellence will determine the number of nuclear warheads and the fissile material stockpiles that India would be looking to get.

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She maintained that the estimated number of warheads given for India do not match with India’s restructuring of its strategic forces command, military posture, and the actual amount of fissile material stockpiles. She believed that nuclear warheads being sought by India would be much higher.

Senior Research Fellow at CISS Dr. Mansoor Ahmed said international estimates of Indian and Pakistani nuclear warhead number and capabilities do not take into account India’s large stockpiles of weapon-usable fissile materials, reactor grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, which is outside IAEA safeguards; and the expansion of India’s existing nuclear infrastructure for its strategic program.

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