Pakistan: Nuclear Capabilities
by YesPakistan.com Staff
Nuclear statistics about
Pakistan and India
Estimated nuclear warheads:
100 to 150
Of these, up to 20 are nuclear bombs that could be dropped from Jaguar or Mirage
The remaining warheads could be fitted to Agni or Prithvi missiles
Missile types and ranges:
* Agni 1 (2,500 km/1,560 miles)
* Agni 2 (3,000 km/1,875 miles; upgraded, up to 3,500 km/2,190 miles)
* Prithvi SS-150 (150 km/94 miles)
* Prithvi SS-250 (250 km/156 miles)
Estimated 25 to 50 nuclear warheads, including up to 20 bombs deliverable by
F-16 fighter jets
may be fitted to Shaheen or Ghauri missiles
Missile types and
* Shaheen 1 (600 km/375
* Shaheen 2 (under
development - up to 2,500 km/1,560 miles)
* Ghauri 1 (1,500
* Ghauri 2 (2,300
India and Pakistan are rivals
and have maintained hostile relations since they gained independence from the
British in 1948. Three times these two nations have gone to war, twice over
disputes about Kashmir. The two have been involved in a conventional arms race
since the beginning, allocating huge percentages of their budgets to defense.
While war has always been
imminent between these two countries, the threat to the entire region has never
been as great as it is now. The threat of a conventional war is always cause
for political tension in any region and it is no secret that India and Pakistan
have amassed huge stockpiles of conventional arsenal.
But as of May 1998, it is
clear that the threat is much greater to the region should India and Pakistan
embark on another war. It is evident these two rival nations are now also capable
of producing and using nuclear weapons.
India's nuclear capabilities
have been understood since it carried out its first nuclear test in 1974. This
has always been cause for great concern on the part of Pakistan. Its nuclear
program is miniscule in comparison and while it was widely believed Pakistan
was on the road to developing nuclear weapons, it lagged far behind its Indian
counterpart. However, since 1996, Pakistan has made it clear that if India exploded
a nuclear device, it would immediately start assembling its own.
India's nuclear ambitions
were clear at its inception. It began a program for the exploration of uranium
ore in 1948. Within ten years it had established a plutonium reprocessing facility
giving it a dual-use capability that gave India the potential for making nuclear
But while the aim toward
a military program has always been there, India has spent much time and effort
in establishing a civil use for nuclear power as well. It is estimated that
by 2005, some 10% of India's energy needs will be met by nuclear power. Pakistan's
civil program comes nowhere near this. Currently, only 0.65% of Pakistan's total
energy comes from nuclear resources.
Pakistan's nuclear program
has been focused almost entirely on weapons technology, especially the production
of highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons using indigenous sources.
Because both countries have
refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both are largely excluded from
trade in nuclear plants and materials except for certain resources needed for
safety purposes. For this reason, India's strategy with respect to its nuclear
program is directed at achieving complete independence in the nuclear fuel cycle.
This self-sufficiency extends from exploration and mining of uranium all the
way through to reprocessing and waste management. Currently, India's nuclear
power program proceeds largely without fuel or technological assistance from
The United States administration
has cut off aid to Pakistan since 1990 because it was unable to certify that
Pakistan was not pursuing a policy of manufacturing nuclear weapons. However,
this has not prevented both India and Pakistan from receiving help. China has
been giving Pakistan intermittent help, most recently by providing it with centrifuge
enrichment technology -- a critical step on the way to weapons production.
India has been given help
by Russia. Since India conducted its tests in May of 1998, Russia has reaffirmed
its commitment to supplying India with a large nuclear power plant to add to
its group of some 16 others with at least ten more planned.
It is widely speculated
that India may have built up enough weapons grade plutonium for 100 nuclear
warheads. When India conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, it was perceived
that even at that time the country either possessed or had the capability of
quickly assembling nuclear weapons. Pakistan is also believed to possess enough
weapons plutonium to produce at least 40 nuclear warheads.
In 1997, India deployed
its own medium-range missile and it is now in the process of developing a long-range
missile capable of reaching targets in China's industrial heartland. In April
of the following year, Pakistan tested a long-range missile capable of reaching
the city of Madras in southern India. This development has removed India's main
military advantage over Pakistan.
While India has maintained
in the past that its nuclear testing was for peaceful purposes, it has stated
openly that the last set of detonations, including one thermonuclear device,
were military in nature. India declared the explosions were "to help in
the design of nuclear weapons of different yields and different delivery systems."
The public stance of these
two nations on the subject of non-proliferation differs greatly. Pakistan has
initiated a series of regional security proposals including establishing a nuclear-free
zone in South Asia. It has also proclaimed its willingness to engage in nuclear
disarmament and to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty if India will.
India, on the other hand,
has not been so forthcoming. It has said it will sign the Non-Proliferation
Treaty if there are some major revisions. It says the treaty as it is currently
written is biased in favour of nuclear weapons states. While India showed support
for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty initially, it withdrew that support in
1995 and moved to block the treaty altogether the following year.
However, since the 1998
tests, both India and Pakistan have shown willingness to sign the CTBT.
Events in Indian, Pakistani Nuclear Development:
- 1948: India establishes
an Atomic Energy Commission for exploration for uranium ore.
- 1953: President Eisenhower
launches ``Atoms for Peace'' program, offering access to exchange atomic technology
for pledges to use it for civilian use, not weapons.
- 1954: Head of India's
AEC, rejects safeguards, oversight by new International Atomic Energy Agency.
- 1956: India completes
negotiations to build 40 megawatt ``Canadian-Indian Reactor, U.S.'' research
reactor. United States supplies heavy water, used to control nuclear fission.
- 1958: India begins designing
and acquiring equipment for its own Trombay plutonium reprocessing facility,
giving the nation a dual-use capability that could lead to atomic weapons.
- 1959: U.S. trains Indian
scientists in reprocessing, handling plutonium.
- 1963: Two 210-megawatt
boiling-water reactors are ordered for the Tarapur Atomic Power Station from
General Electric. United States and India agree plutonium from India's reactors
will not be used for research for atomic weapons or for military purposes.
- 1964: First plutonium
reprocessing plant operates at Trombay.
- 1965: Chairman of India's
AEC proposes subterranean nuclear explosion project. China, one of five declared
nuclear states, detonates first atomic explosive device. U.S. withdraws military
aid from India after the India-Pakistan War.
- 1966: India declares
it can produce nuclear weapons within 18 months.
- 1968: Non-Proliferation
Treaty completed. India refuses to sign.
- 1969: France agrees to
help India develop breeder reactors.
- 1974: India tests a device
of up to 15 kilotons and calls the test a ``peaceful nuclear explosion.''
Canada suspends nuclear cooperation. The United States allows continued supply
of nuclear fuel, but later cuts it off.
- 1976: Soviet Union assumes
role of India's main supplier of heavy water. Canada formally halts nuclear
Early 1980s: India acquires and develops centrifuge technology, builds uranium
enrichment plants at Trombay and Mysore.
- 1991: India enters agreement
with Pakistan prohibiting attacks on each other's nuclear installations, a
measure to ease tensions.
- 1992: Rare Metals Plant
at Mysore begins producing enriched uranium. Nuclear Suppliers Group, organization
of nations with nuclear materials, stops supplying India.
- 1997: India announces
development of supercomputer technology that can be used to test nuclear-weapon
designs. Fuel reprocessing plant at Kalpakkam, a large-scale plutonium separation
facility, completes ``cold commissioning'' in last phase of pre-operating
- 1998: India announces
plans to sign deal with Russia for two 1 000 megawatt nuclear reactors.
May 11-13: India conducts five underground nuclear tests, declares itself
a nuclear state.
- 1972: Following its third
war with India, Pakistan secretly decides to start nuclear weapons program
to match India's developing capability. Canada supplies reactor for the Karachi
Nuclear Power Plant, heavy water and heavy-water production facility.
- 1974: Western suppliers
embargo nuclear exports to Pakistan after India's first test of a nuclear
- 1975: Purchasing of components
and technology for Kahuta uranium-enrichment centrifuge facility begins after
return of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, German-trained metallurgist who takes over
- 1976: Canada stops supplying
nuclear fuel for Karachi.
- 1977: German seller provides
vacuum pumps, equipment for uranium enrichment. Britain sells Pakistan 30
high-frequency inverters for controlling centrifuge speeds. United States
halts economic and military aid over Pakistan's nuclear-weapons program.
- 1978: France cancels
deal to supply plutonium reprocessing plant at Chasma.
- 1979: United States imposes
economic sanctions after Pakistan is caught importing equipment for uranium
enrichment plant at Kahuta.
- 1981: Smuggler arrested
at U.S. airport while attempting to ship two tons of zirconium to Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Reagan administration lifts sanctions and begins generous military
and financial aid because of Pakistani help to Afghan rebels battling Soviets.
- 1983: China reportedly
supplies Pakistan with bomb design. U.S. intelligence believes Pakistani centrifuge
program intended to produce material for nuclear weapons.
- 1985: Congress passes
Pressler amendment, requiring economic sanctions unless White House certifies
that Pakistan is not embarked on nuclear weapons program. Islamabad is certified
every year until 1990.
- 1986: Pakistan, China
sign pact on peaceful use of nuclear energy, including design, construction,
operation of reactors.
- 1987: Pakistan acquires
tritium purification and production facility from West Germany.
- 1989: A 27-kilowatt research
reactor is built with Chinese help and comes under international monitoring.
- 1990: Fearing new war
with India, Pakistan makes cores for several nuclear weapons. Bush administration,
under Pressler amendment, imposes economic, military sanctions against Pakistan.
- 1991: Pakistan puts ceiling
on size of its weapons-grade uranium stockpile. It enters into agreement with
India, prohibiting the two states from attacking each other's nuclear installations.
- 1993: Report by the Stockholm
International Peace and Research Institute says about 14,000 uranium-enrichment
centrifuges installed in Pakistan. German customs officials seize about 1,000
gas centrifuges bound for Pakistan.
- 1996: Pakistan buys 5,000
ring magnets from China to be used in gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
China tells U.S. government it will stop helping Pakistan's unsafeguarded
nuclear facilities. Islamabad completes 40-megawatt heavy-water reactor that,
once operational, could provide the first source of plutonium-bearing spent
fuel free from international inspections.
- 1998: Reacting to fresh
nuclear testing by India, Pakistan conducts its own atomic explosions.
Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International
Studies, Calif.; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Non-Proliferation
Policy Education Center.
Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper 45, Uranium Information Centre, February 2001.
Date/Time Last Modified: 6/18/2002 8:05:44 AM
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