Pakistan maintains a lead in the number of nuclear warheads when compared to arch-rival India, according to an assessment by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday, reported The Times of India.
The Indian publication noted that the country was now reliant on developing a deterrence capability which focused on survival in fear of strikes by Pakistan.
According to the newspaper, Islamabad has 140-150 nuclear warheads, as compared to 130 nuclear warheads owned by New Delhi. China, compared to the two countries, has 280 nuclear weapons.
The SIPRI report also highlighted that superpowers like the United States and Russia possess thousands of nuclear weapons, and account for 92 per cent of the nuclear stockpiles around the world.
SIPRI also stated that every nuclear-armed country is in the process of developing or deploying new nuclear weapons systems.
“India and Pakistan are both expanding their nuclear weapon stockpiles as well as developing new land, sea and air-based missile delivery systems. China continues to modernise its nuclear weapon delivery systems and is slowly increasing the size of its nuclear arsenal,” added SIPRI.
The Times of India quoted Indian establishment sources as saying that the country was now preparing a defence strategy to counter a threat of encirclement from China and Pakistan.
“The number of warheads do not really matter. With a declared no-first use (NFU) nuclear policy, India is keen to ensure survivability and credibility of our assets and NC3 (nuclear command, control and communication) systems for assured second-strike capabilities…We have achieved this to a large extent,” claimed the source.
Islamabad also developed 70-km range Nasr (Hatf-IX) missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads as an effective battlefield counter to India’s ‘Cold Start’ strategy of swift, high-voltage conventional strikes into enemy territory, the Indian publication acknowledged.
“For India, nuclear weapons are not war-fighting weapons. But we need credible minimum deterrence, with the certainty of massive retaliation against adversaries,” added the Indian source.
India wants to achieve a nuclear stockpile of 200 warheads in the decade ahead to counter the Chinese threat, according to The Times of India.
The tri-services Strategic Forces Command in India is now in the process of inducting India’s first intercontinental ballistic missile, the over 5,000-km range Agni-V missile, which can hit even the northernmost region of China, said the report by the Indian newspaper.