India, Pakistan continue to amass nukes: SIPRIJune 7th, 2011 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) India and Pakistan, South Asia’s self-anointed nuclear weapons states and arch rivals, are stockpiling nuclear weapons at a rapid pace, with the two nations adding an almost identical 20 to 30 warheads in the last one year, a leading Swedish think tank said Tuesday.
In its yearbook for 2011, the Stockholm International Peace Research Insitute (SIPRI) also pointed out that India and Pakistan continued with the development and deployment of ballistic and cruise missiles that are capable of delivering nuclear weapons, estimated to be 110 warheads with each of the countries.
India, said the SIPRI yearbook, currently holds about 80 to 110 nuclear warheads, about 30 more than its estimated to be 60-80 a year ago. Pakistan too boasts of about 90 to 110 warheads, up by 20 warheads from 70-90 in 2010.
“India and Pakistan, which along with Israel, are de facto nuclear weapons states outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons. They are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes,” the yearbook, released in Stockholm, said.
India has no means for officially releasing data on its nuclear weapons stock, but SIPRI’s estimates seem to be based on calculations of the country’s inventory of weapons-grade plutonium as well as the number of operational nuclear-capable delivery systems.
India currently operates 20 nuclear reactors, mostly meant for civilian energy use. Pakistan operates two plutonium production reactors, and construction work on two more such facilities appears to be under way.
While India has maintained a “no first use” policy for its nuclear weapons ever since it declared itself a nuclear weapons state following its 1998 Pokhran tests, Pakistan has not pronounced its intentions of not using its strategic weapons first if there is a sub-continental conflict.
SIPRI’s yearbook also noted that the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel possessed more than 20,530 nuclear weapons as of January 2011, a drop of 2,130 from 2010.
Of these, 5,027 are deployed and are ready to fire, including nearly 2,000 that are kept in a state of high operational alert, it said, adding that 2,150 of these are with the US, 2,427 with Russia, 160 with Britain and 290 with France.
Modest cuts in US and Russian strategic nuclear forces were agreed on in April 2010 under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), but both countries currently are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals for the indefinite future.
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