28/08/2015 9:56 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Pakistan Nuclear Arsenal Might Grow To World's 3rd-Largest In A Decade

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
PAKISTAN - NOVEMBER 13: The Pakistani Military launches an intermediate-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile Shaheen-II, also known as Hatf-VI, with a range of 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) from an undisclosed location in Pakistan on November 13, 2014. The test fire hit its target in the Arabian Sea, which is the northern part of the Indian Ocean. (Photo by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR)/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Pakistan is racing to build new nuclear warheads, and might have the world's third-largest stockpile within a decade, says a report by a leading think tank.

At present, India has about 100 warheads, while Pakistan has moved ahead with about 120, and is on track to reach as many as 350, reports the Washington Post. That is alarming, because Pakistan does not have a 'no first use' policy, and is beset by terrorist groups who might be able to get their hands on its defence arsenal.

India has larger reserves of plutonium, but is using it to do something more worthwhile: producing power to make up for chronic shortages, says the report by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center. Meanwhile Pakistan is using pouring its entire stockpile of enriched uranium into nuclear weapons, while the country lags way behind in economic development, education and women's rights. The country has a powerful, trigger-happy army that often sets policy instead of the elected government.

It has been difficult to get an accurate picture of Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Pakistani analysts have downplayed the latest report as well, saying that it is incorrect to assume that Pakistan is using all of its fissile material into producing nuclear weapons, the Post says.

India has been treated as a much more responsible nuclear power compared with Pakistan, which has had a history of nuclear proliferation and tethers on instability due to frequent attacks by powerful terror networks.

The United States and Russia have the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, and both nations have been gradually decreasing it. Next comes China with about 250 warheads, France with about 200, followed by United Kingdom's 215 warheads.

Pakistan has added a new plutonium production reactor at its Khushab Nuclear Complex, said the report authored by Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon. Pakistan uses both plutonium and enriched uranium to create nuclear warheads.

Pakistan's aggressive stance on the disputed area of Kashmir has led to three wars with India since independence. With its arsenal of nuclear weapons rising quickly, world powers are worried about the fallout should its army decide to use nuclear weapons against India, which has a much larger and technologically superior army. However, India's army is firmly under civilian command, whereas Pakistan has had a history of frequent coups and its India-fixated generals wield significant power even when an elected government is in place.

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