Pakistan’s nuclear programme: a net assessment

Pakistan may have about 100 nuclear weapons and about 200 ballistic missiles (partly for conventional use) and shows all signs of expanding its nuclear force. In the past decade, a robust set of institutions and procedures has been put into place, aimed at preventing the unauthorized use, theft or sale of nuclear weapons, materials, or technology. There is no doubt that the Pakistan military has been taking nuclear security very seriously – first and foremost because it is in its own interest – and does that in a very professional way. This analysis argues that the main risks today are not those of “weapons falling into the wrong hands” and even less an “Islamist takeover of the country”. They are risks of deliberate use and perhaps partial loss of control of the nuclear complex in wartime; and low-level leaks of expertise or materials, or a radiological incident in peacetime. On the longer run, a weakening of State authority over the territory and a failure of governance, or of a radicalization of current policies towards the West, should not be discounted.


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