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Pakistani Nuclear Capability Data

Updated July 10, 2008
Center for Defense Information

View the information directly on CDI website

Possible Delivery System

Year Deployed

Maximum Range (km)

Launcher Total

Payload (kg)

Warhead Yield (kt)

Notes

Missiles

Hatf-3 (Ghaznavi)

2002

~400

30+

500

-

Based on Chinese M-11

Hatf-4 (Shaheen 1)

1999

>450

-

1,000

-

Based on Chinese M-9

Hatf-5 (Ghauri)

1998

>1,200

-

1,000

On the order of 9-12

Hatf-6 (Shaheen 2)

-

2,000-2,500

-

-

5-25

Last tested successfully in April 2008

Hatf-7 (Babur)

-

700+

-

-

-

Test-launched successfully on December 11, 2007

Aircraft

F-16 A/B

1983

1,600

32 (?)

4,500

-

Number of new planes received since 2001 is uncertain

Summary of Pakistan's Nuclear Forces:

Pakistan is believed to have about 60 nuclear weapons with enough fissile material for 30-52 more.

Pakistan's nuclear program has always been tied to its longstanding rivalry with India; the first Pakistani nuclear tests were held immediately after the Indian tests in May 1998. Little solid information is available regarding the Pakistani arsenal, but the most reliable estimates indicate that it probably consists of about 60 nuclear weapons.[1] Existing Pakistani warheads are an implosion type using highly-enriched uranium, but Pakistan also has facilities to extract and reprocess plutonium.[2] Pakistan’s nuclear program is highly secretive and much is still unknown.

Pakistan can most likely use the U.S.-built F-16 to deliver nuclear weapons, but it may also be able to use the French-built Mirage V or the Chinese-built A-5 Fantan. Some F-16s were delivered in the 1980s to support Pakistani efforts in the Soviet-Afghan war,[3] but in an effort to deter Pakistan from developing nuclear bombs, the United States imposed restrictions in 1990 under the 1985 Pressler Amendment, blocking the further delivery of F-16s and certain other types of assistance. In seeking to gain Pakistan's assistance for the campaign in Afghanistan, President George W. Bush and Congress waived these sanctions on Sept. 22, 2001, allowing Pakistan to purchase new F-16s. At least four new planes have been delivered, but the sale of another 18 has been approved; it is unclear how many of those 18 have actually been delivered.[4]

However, Pakistan relies mostly on ballistic missiles to deliver its nuclear weapons, in an attempt to counter India’s advantage in conventional forces.[5] In developing its ballistic missiles, Pakistan has relied on North Korean and Chinese assistance but has also some indigenous capability.[6]

Pakistan’s nuclear-capable ballistic missiles include the short-range Ghaznavi (Hatf-3) and Shaheen-1 (Hatf-4), and the medium-range Ghauri (Hatf-5). In addition, Pakistan is developing a medium-range Shaheen-2. Rumors about newer versions of the Ghauri seem to have been incorrect.

The solid-fueled Ghaznavi entered service in 2004 and can deliver a 500-kg payload approximately 400 km. It is believed to be derived from the Chinese M-11, and is deployed on fewer than 50 road-mobile launchers. The Shaheen-1 is also road mobile and is a reverse-engineered version of the Chinese M-9 missile. It can deliver up to 1,000 kg to targets in excess of 450 km away. The Shaheen-2 missile, though still under development and not deployed, has a range of 2,500 km and can deliver a payload of 1,000 kg. It will also almost certainly be launched from a road-mobile delivery system.

In addition to its ballistic missiles, Pakistan is also developing a cruise missile that may be nuclear-capable, which it has dubbed the Babur (Hatf-7). It was first tested in 2005 and reportedly has a range of approximately 500 km.

Pakistan is generally believed to store nuclear delivery vehicles separate from warheads. However, an escalation of conflict along the line of control in Kashmir in both the Kargil conflict in 1999 as well as the crisis of 2002 may have led Pakistan to mate some delivery systems with warheads. In February 2000, President Pervez Musharraf established Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) to better manage the command and control system for the country’s nuclear forces. However, concern persists about instability due to the war in Afghanistan, which could exacerbate weaknesses in Pakistan’s nuclear command and control (C2) system.[7]

The most notable incident regarding Pakistan’s nuclear program since 2001 was the 2004 revelation that A.Q. Khan, largely considered to be the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, had been running a global network for the sale of nuclear technology – for instance, he sold uranium centrifuges to North Korea.[8] Musharraf pardoned Khan in February 2004, but the ramifications of the Khan network’s actions are still being uncovered. Most recently, Khan himself said that the Pakistani army actually supervised a shipment of uranium centrifuges to North Korea in 2000. This allegation directly contradicts previous assertions by the Pakistani government that it had no knowledge of Khan’s proliferation activities.[9]

Recently, a variety of measures have been taken to ensure that Pakistan’s nuclear assets remain secure with their transition into a post-Musharraf era. In the first instance, at the end of 2007, Musharraf formalized the NCA with the 2007 National Command Authority Ordinance, which codified the administrative order of 2000 and added penalties for the dissemination of nuclear information.[10] Pakistan also established a Strategic Export Controls Division (SECDIV) and an associated Oversight Board to prevent further proliferation of Pakistani nuclear technology. In the wake of these and other such changes, a variety of senior U.S. officials have testified to the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.[11] However, an explosion in April 2008 at the Khushab heavy water reactor, which is used for the production of nuclear materials and not subject to international inspections, killed two workers.[12] The situation was rapidly brought under control and does not seem to have affected nuclear security so far.

Finally, in January 2007, reports surfaced that suggested the facility at Chashma may be incorporating a plutonium reprocessing capability.[13] Its true capacity is still unknown, but this suggests that Pakistan continues to upgrade and modernize its nuclear arsenal.

Strategic Nuclear Weapons: 60

Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons: 0

Total Nuclear Weapons: 60+?

Sources:

“5 Minutes to Midnight.” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January/February 2007. http://www.thebulletin.org/minutes-to-midnight/nuclear.html

Ahmad, Munir. “Scientist says Pakistan knew of Korea nuke deal.” Associated Press, July 4, 2008. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080704/ap_on_re_as/pakistan_nuclear_proliferation_5

Albright, David, and David Brannan. “Chashma Nuclear Site in Pakistan with Possible Reprocessing Plant.” Institute for Science and International Security, Jan. 18, 2007. www.isis-online.org/publications/southasia/chashma.pdf

Albright, David. “Securing Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Complex.” Paper commissioned and sponsored by the Stanley Foundation for the 42nd Strategy for Peace Conference Oct. 25-27, 2001. http://www.isis-online.org/publications/terrorism/stanleypaper.html

Federation of American Scientists. “Pakistan Aircraft Potential Special Weapons Delivery Systems.” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/aircraft/index.html (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

Federation of American Scientists. “Pakistan.” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/missile/index.html (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

Federation of American Scientists. “Pakistan Nuclear Weapons: A Brief History of Pakistan's Nuclear Program.” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/nuke/index.html (Updated Dec. 11, 2002).

Federation of American Scientists. “Pakistan Special Weapons Facilities.” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/facility/index.html (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

Gill, John H. “India and Pakistan: A Shift in the Military Calculus.” In Military Modernization in an Era of Uncertainty. Series: Strategic Asia 2005-06, ed. Ashley Tellis and Michael Wills, National Bureau of Asian Research, 2005: 237-267.

GlobalSecurity.org “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/pakistan/missile.htm (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

Grimmet, Richard F. “U.S. Arms Sales to Pakistan.” Congressional Research Service, November 8, 2007. RS22757. http://www.fas.org/asmp/resources/110th/CRS22757.pdf

Kampani, Guarav. “Safety Concerns About the Command and Control of Pakistan’s Strategic Forces, Fissile Material, and Nuclear Installations.” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies, Sept. 28, 2001. http://cns.miis.edu/research/wtc01/spna.htm

Kapur, Paul. “India and Pakistan's Unstable Peace: Why Nuclear South Asia Is Not Like Cold War Europe,” International Security 30, no. 2, Fall 2005, 127-152.

Kronstadt, K Alan. “Pakistan and Terrorism.” Congressional Research Service, March 27, 2007. RS22632. http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/82600.pdf

Kronstadt, K. Alan. “Pakistan-U.S. Relations.” Congressional Research Service, May 30, 2008. RL33498. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33498.pdf

Kristensen, Hans and Norris, Robert. “Pakistan’s Nuclear Forces, 2007.” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. May/June 2007. http://thebulletin.metapress.com/content/k4q43h2104032426/fulltext.pdf

Lavoy, Peter R. "Pakistan Nuclear Posture: Security & Survivability." Slides of presentation at Conference on Pakistan's Nuclear Future, April 28, 2006. Center for Contemporary Conflict, Naval Postgraduate School.

Nature Resources Defense Council. “Table of Pakistani Forces 2002.” Nov. 25, 2002. http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/datab21.asp

Nuclear Forces: Pakistan 2001,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2001.

Pakistani Military Consortium. http://www.pakdef.info (Accessed on March 15, 2007).

“Pakistan test fires medium-range ballistic missile-2.” RIA-Novosti. Jan. 25, 2008. http://en.rian.ru/world/20080125/97720640.html

“Pakistan test-fires long-range Shaheen-II missile.” Daily Times. Apr. 20, 2008. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C04%5C20%5Cstory_20-4-2008_pg7_4

Wagner, Alex. “U.S. Offers Nuclear Security Assistance to Pakistan.” Arms Control Today, December 2001. http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2001_12/paknucsecdec01.asp

ENDNOTES

[1] “5 Minutes to Midnight,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January/February 2007. http://www.thebulletin.org/minutes-to-midnight/nuclear.html

[2] Federation of American Scientists. “Pakistan Nuclear Weapons: A Brief History of Pakistan's Nuclear Program.” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/nuke/index.html (Updated, Dec. 11, 2002).

[3] Federation of American Scientists, “Pakistan Aircraft Potential Special Weapons Delivery Systems,” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/aircraft/index.html (Accessed April 9, 2007)

[4] K. Alan Kronstadt, “Pakistan-U.S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, May 30, 2008. RL33498. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33498.pdf

[5] Paul Kapur, “India and Pakistan's Unstable Peace: Why Nuclear South Asia Is Not Like Cold War Europe,” International Security, Volume 30, 2, Fall 2005, p. 127-152

[6] Federation of American Scientists. “Pakistan Nuclear Weapons: A Brief History of Pakistan's Nuclear Program.” http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/pakistan/nuke/index.html (Updated Dec. 11, 2002).

[7] Alex Wagner, “U.S. Offers Nuclear Security Assistance to Pakistan,” Arms Control Today, December 2001; also see David Albright, “Securing Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Complex,” Paper commissioned and sponsored by the Stanley Foundation for the 42nd Strategy for Peace Conference Oct. 25-27, 2001. http://www.isis-online.org/publications/terrorism/stanleypaper.html

[8] “Khan 'gave N Korea centrifuges'” BBC News, Aug. 24, 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4180286.stm

[9] Munir Ahmad, “Scientist says Pakistan knew of Korea nuke deal,” Associated Press, 4 July 2008.

[10] Paul Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues,” Congressional Research Service, Jan. 14, 2008, pp. 8-9

[11] Ibid. pp. 13-14

[12] Farhan Bokhari, “Nuke Plant Accident Kills 2 In Pakistan,” CBS News, Apr. 8, 2008, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/08/world/main4002614.shtml

[13] David Albright, David Brannan, “Chashma Nuclear Site in Pakistan with Possible Reprocessing Plant” Institute for Science and International Security, Jan. 18, 2007.

Author(s): Elliott Becker , Eric Hundman

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