India lags behind Pakistan in nuclear armoury: US expert

NEW DELHI: The nuclear information director of Federation of AmericanScientists (FAS), Hans M Kristensen, has sought to settle the debate onIndia 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 againbe discovering that Pakistan has a few more nuclear weapons than India.``As far as I can gauge, apart from nuclear testing where India startedfirst, Pakistan has always been a little ahead in warheads, fissilematerial and delivery systems,'' said Kristensen in his latest write-upfor FAS.

The TOI report was based on a study carried out by Kristensen andRobert Norris which said that, apart from Pakistan having more nuclearwarheads, 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 anynuclear moral high ground. ``Both are increasing their nucleararsenals, both are producing more fissile material for nuclear weapons,and both are diversifying the means to deliver nuclear weapons andextending their range,'' he said. As per his latest estimate, whileIndia has 60-80 warheads, Pakistan has 70-90.

``The two countries are now at a warhead level about equal to that ofIsrael (80 warheads). But whereas it took Israel 40 years to reach thatlevel, India and Pakistan have done so in only 12 years. And they'reapparently 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 mostaccurate source of information on nuclear weapons and weapon facilitiesavailable to the public, and the `World Nuclear Forces' overview in theSIPRI Yearbook.

According to Kristensen, Indian and Pakistani security will probably beserved better by trying soon to define just how big a nuclear force issufficient for minimum deterrence so that "prudent planning" doesn'ttake them to a new and more dangerous level.

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

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