Fact Sheet

Nuclear Disarmament Pakistan

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Nuclear Disarmament Pakistan

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Arsenal Size

  • Estimated stockpile: 140-150 nuclear warheads. Pakistan’s nuclear warheads are believed to be in central storage facilities in the southern part of the country. [1]
     
  • Continues to produce HEU and plutonium for its nuclear weapons program. [2]
     
Key Delivery Systems
  • Nuclear-capable aircraft: U.S.-built and supplied F-16A/B, and French-manufactured Mirage V. Pakistan has likely modified both for nuclear weapons delivery. [3]
     
  • Operational ballistic missiles: short-range Abdali (Hatf-2), Ghaznavi (Hatf-3), Shaheen-I (Hatf-4), and medium-range Ghauri (Hatf-5), Shaheen-II (Hatf-6). The dual-capable Nasr (Hatf-9) is a short-range missile intended for battlefield use. [4]
     
  • Operational cruise missiles: ground-launched Babur (Haft-7) and the air-launched Ra’ad (Haft-8) [5]
     
  • In testing: The Shaheen 1A, a ballistic missile with a range of 900 km and the Shaheen 3 ballistic missile (range: 2750 km) were successfully test launched in December 2015. The Shaheen 3 is designed to “reach Indian islands” so India cannot use them as “strategic bases. [6] The Ghauri-2 (Hatf-5a) missile (range: 1800km) is also under development. The newest medium-range ballistic missile under development, which has been described as capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), is the Ababeel (range: 2,200km). [7] The Ababel is a three-stage, solid-fueled missile. [8]
     
  • Cruise missiles with an unknown deployment status include the ground-launched Baber-2 (range: 700km) and the sea-based Babur-3 (range: 450km). The air-launched Ra’ad-2 (range: >350km) was revealed in March 2017. [9]
     

Estimated Destructive Power

  • Unknown, likely over two megatons [10]
     

Estimated Military Fissile Material Stockpiles

  • Plutonium stockpile: Estimated 280 kg. [11]
     
  • Weapons-grade HEU: estimated 3.4 ± 0.4 tons [12]
     
  • Estimated to have enough fissile material for more than 200 weapons [13]
     
  • Pakistan is moving away from solely HEU-based weapons to lighter and more compact plutonium core warheads [14]
     
  • Able to produce 150kg of HEU and 12-24kg plutonium each year [15]
     
  • Operates one HEU enrichment facility in Kahuta and a possible second plant at Gadwal. [16]
     
  • Operates heavy water plutonium production reactor complex at Khushab, and plutonium reprocessing plant at the New Laboratories facility of the Pakistan Institute of Science and Technology (PINSTECH). [17]
     

Disarmament and Commitments to Reduce Arsenal Size

  • Opposed to signing the NPT. Pakistan will not consider signing the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state as long as India has nuclear weapons. [18]
     
Future Commitments
  • Supports negotiation of a non-discriminatory, verifiable Fissile Materials Treaty, but asserts that the treaty should cover existing stocks. [19] Due to the consensus rule governing the Conference on Disarmament, Pakistan has been able to effectively block the start of any negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and will continue to do so until an agreement to include existing stockpiles is added to the treaty. [20]
     
  • Supports a direct, comprehensive approach to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and materials within an agreed upon timeframe. [21]
     
  • Attended the three Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons—Oslo, March 2013; Nayarit, February 2014, and Vienna, December 2014. [22]
     
  • Pakistan joined all other nuclear weapons possessing states in boycotting the 2017 Nuclear Ban Treaty negotiations at the UN General Assembly. [23]
     

Nuclear Weapons Policies


Nuclear Testing Policy
  • Has observed nuclear testing moratorium since May 1998. Pakistan renewed its proposal for a bilateral moratorium on testing with India in August 2016. [24]
     
  • Party to Partial Test Ban Treaty (banning atmospheric, outer space, and underwater testing) [25]
     
  • Opposed to signing Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) [26]
     
Use of Nuclear Weapons
  • Retains first-use policy against nuclear armed states, but has declared a no-first-use policy against non-nuclear weapon states [27]
     
  • Continues to adhere to the policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence, asserting it will not enter into an arms race with any other country but remaining aware of evolving security dynamics in South Asia. Has stated its intention to maintain a full spectrum deterrence capability to deter all forms of aggression [28]
     
  • Ratified the India-Pakistan Non-Attack Agreement in January 1991 [29]
     
  • Signed the Lahore Agreement in February 1999 [30]
     
  • Nuclear posture seeks to counter military threats, including Indian non-nuclear attacks on Pakistani territory [31]
     

Sources:
[1] Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, and Julia Diamond, “Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74, no. 5, 31 August 2018.
[2] "Countries: Pakistan," International Panel on Fissile Materials, 12 February 2013, https://fissilematerials.org.
[3] Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin, "Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons," Congressional Research Service, 1 August 2016, www.fas.org.
[4] Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, and Julia Diamond, “Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74, no. 5, 31 August 2018.
[5] Zia Mian, "Pakistan," Assuring Destruction Forever, Reaching Critical Will, March 2012, pp. 51-58, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; "Design Characteristics of Pakistan's Ballistic and Cruise Missiles," Nuclear Threat Initiative, September 2014, www.nti.org.
[6] Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons,” Congressional Research Service, 1 August 2016, www.fas.org.
[7] Alexander Smith, "Pakistan Test Fires New Shaheen 1A Ballistic Missile," NBC News, 15 December 2015, www.nbcnews.com; "Pakistan Successfully Test-Fires New Shaheen III Missile," Dawn.com, 11 December 2015.
[8] “Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Pakistan,” Arms Control Association, July 2018, www.armscontrol.org.
[9] Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, and Julia Diamond, “Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74, no. 5, 31 August 2018.
[10] Original estimates (1.3 megatons) were based on 2009 nuclear arsenal (>60 nuclear weapons) and drawn from Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi, "Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policy Makers," Report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, November 2009, pp. 20, www.icnnd.org. Updating that estimate for an arsenal of roughly 100 nuclear weapons gives a conservative yield of roughly 2.1 megatons, all else held constant.
[11] "Countries: Pakistan," International Panel on Fissile Materials, 12 February 2018, , https://fissilematerials.org.
[12] "Countries: Pakistan," International Panel on Fissile Materials, 12 February 2018, https://fissilematerials.org; Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin, "Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons," Congressional Research Service, 1 August 2016, www.fas.org.
[13] “Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Pakistan,” Arms Control Association, July 2018, www.armscontrol.org.
[14] “Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Pakistan,” Arms Control Association, July 2018, www.armscontrol.org.
[15] “Countries: Pakistan,” International Panel on Fissile Materials, 12 February 2018, https://fissilematerials.org.
[16] “Countries: Pakistan,” International Panel on Fissile Materials, 12 February 2018, https://fissilematerials.org.
[17] “Countries: Pakistan,” International Panel on Fissile Materials, 12 February 2018, https://fissilematerials.org.
[18] See statement of Mr. Elahi, A/C. 1/59/PV.19 General Assembly Fifty-Ninth session First Committee 19th Meeting Thursday, 28 October 2004, accessed through Pakistan Security Research Unit, University of Bradford, https://spaces.brad.ac.uk:8080/display/conf/Home; Marvin Miller and Lawrence Scheinman,” Israel, India, and Pakistan: Engaging the Non-NPT States in the Nonproliferation Regime,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 33, December 2003, www.armscontrol.org.
[19] General Statement by Pakistan Delegation, “Informal Consultative Meeting by the Chairperson of the High-level FMCT Expert Preparatory Group, 15-16 February 2018, www.un.org.
[20] “Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty,” Reaching Critical Will, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; Paul Meyer, “Free the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty: Functionality over Forum,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Web Edition, 19 September 2011, www.thebulletin.org.
[21] Ambassador Zamir Akram, Statement on Nuclear Disarmament at the Plenary Meeting of the Conference on Disarmament, 24 February 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[22] Revised List of Participants, “Conference: The Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons,” 4-5 March 2013, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; “Registered Participants,” Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 13-14 February 2014, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; Pakistan Statement at The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 8-9 December 2014, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[23] “Pakistan Joins US-Led Boycott Against UN Meeting to Ban Nuclear Weapons,” The Express Tribune (Pakistan), 28 March 2017, www.tribune.com.pk.
[24] “Pakistan Offers India Moratorium on Nuclear Tests,” The Express Tribune, 17 August 2016, www.tribune.com.pk.
[25] Jonathan Medalia, “Nuclear Weapons: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” Congressional Research Service, 2 June 2005, www.opencrs.com.
[26] Statement by Pakistan at the Eighth CTBT Ministerial Meeting, 21 September 2016, www.ctbto.org.
[27] Qazi M. Khalilullah, General Assembly Sixty-first Session First Committee 21st Meeting Thursday, 26 October 2006, A/C.1/61/PV.21, accessed through Pakistan Security Research Unit, University of Bradford, spaces.ac.uk:8080/display/ssispsru.
[28] Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues,” Congressional Research Service, 13 January 2011, www.opencrs.com.
[29] India Pakistan Non-Attack Agreement, Nuclear Threat Initiative, www.nti.org.
[30] Lahore Agreement, Nuclear Threat Initiative, www.nti.org.
[31] Hans M. Kristensen, Robert S. Norris, and Julia Diamond, “Pakistani Nuclear Forces, 2018,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 74, no. 5 (August 31, 2018).

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Glossary

Highly enriched uranium (HEU)
Highly enriched uranium (HEU): Refers to uranium with a concentration of more than 20% of the isotope U-235. Achieved via the process of enrichment. See entry for enriched uranium.
Ballistic missile
A delivery vehicle powered by a liquid or solid fueled rocket that primarily travels in a ballistic (free-fall) trajectory.  The flight of a ballistic missile includes three phases: 1) boost phase, where the rocket generates thrust to launch the missile into flight; 2) midcourse phase, where the missile coasts in an arc under the influence of gravity; and 3) terminal phase, in which the missile descends towards its target.  Ballistic missiles can be characterized by three key parameters - range, payload, and Circular Error Probable (CEP), or targeting precision.  Ballistic missiles are primarily intended for use against ground targets.
Cruise missile
An unmanned self-propelled guided vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift for most of its flight path. There are subsonic and supersonic cruise missiles currently deployed in conventional and nuclear arsenals, while conventional hypersonic cruise missiles are currently in development. These can be launched from the air, submarines, or the ground. Although they carry smaller payloads, travel at slower speeds, and cover lesser ranges than ballistic missiles, cruise missiles can be programmed to travel along customized flight paths and to evade missile defense systems.
Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM)
A missile designed to be launched from an aircraft and jet-engine powered throughout its flight. As with all cruise missiles, its range is a function of payload, propulsion, and fuel volume, and can thus vary greatly. Under the START I Treaty, the term "long-range ALCM" means an air-launched cruise missile with a range in excess of 600 kilometers.
Multiple Independently-targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV)
An offensive ballistic missile system with multiple warheads, each of which can strike a separate target and can be launched by a single booster rocket.
Megaton (MT)
Megaton (MT): The energy equivalent released by 1,000 kilotons (1,000,000 tons) of trinitrotoluene (TNT) explosive. Typically used as the unit of measurement to express the amount of energy released by a nuclear bomb.
Fissile material
Fissile material: A type of fissionable material capable of sustaining a chain reaction by undergoing fission upon the absorption of low-energy (or thermal) neutrons. Uranium-235, Plutonium-239, and Uranium-233 are the most prominently discussed fissile materials for peaceful and nuclear weapons purposes.
Weapons-grade material
Weapons-grade material: Refers to the nuclear materials that are most suitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, e.g., uranium (U) enriched to 90 percent U-235 or plutonium (Pu) that is primarily composed of Pu-239 and contains less than 7% Pu-240. Crude nuclear weapons (i.e., improvised nuclear devices), could be fabricated from lower-grade materials.
Fissile material
Fissile material: A type of fissionable material capable of sustaining a chain reaction by undergoing fission upon the absorption of low-energy (or thermal) neutrons. Uranium-235, Plutonium-239, and Uranium-233 are the most prominently discussed fissile materials for peaceful and nuclear weapons purposes.
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium: Uranium with an increased concentration of the isotope U-235, relative to natural uranium. Natural uranium contains 0.7 percent U-235, whereas nuclear weapons typically require uranium enriched to very high levels (see the definitions for “highly enriched uranium” and “weapons-grade”). Nuclear power plant fuel typically uses uranium enriched to 3 to 5 percent U-235, material that is not sufficiently enriched to be used for nuclear weapons.
Reprocessing
Reprocessing: The chemical treatment of spent nuclear fuel to separate the remaining usable plutonium and uranium for re-fabrication into fuel, or alternatively, to extract the plutonium for use in nuclear weapons.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
The NPT: Signed in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the most widely adhered-to international security agreement. The “three pillars” of the NPT are nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article VI of the NPT commits states possessing nuclear weapons to negotiate in good faith toward halting the arms race and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty stipulates that non-nuclear-weapon states will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and will accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on their nuclear activities, while nuclear weapon states commit not to transfer nuclear weapons to other states. All states have a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and should assist one another in its development. The NPT provides for conferences of member states to review treaty implementation at five-year intervals. Initially of a 25-year duration, the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. For additional information, see the NPT.
Non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS)
Non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS): Under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), NNWS are states that had not detonated a nuclear device prior to 1 January 1967, and who agree in joining the NPT to refrain from pursuing nuclear weapons (that is, all state parties to the NPT other than the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China).
Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)
The Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty us currently under discussion in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to end the production of weapons-usable fissile material (highly enriched uranium and plutonium) for nuclear weapons. For additional information, see the FMCT.
Conference on Disarmament (CD)
The CD is an international forum focused on multilateral disarmament efforts. Although it reports to the UN General Assembly and has a relationship with the United Nations, it adopts its own rules of procedure and agenda, giving it some degree of independence. The CD has a permanent agenda devoted to the negotiation of disarmament issues. The CD and its predecessors have negotiated major nonproliferation and disarmament agreements such as the NPT, the BTWC, the CWC, and the CTBT. In recent years, the CD has focused on negotiating a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS); and negative security assurances. For additional information, see the CD.
United Nations General Assembly
The UN General Assembly is the largest body of the United Nations. It includes all member states, but its resolutions are not legally binding. It is responsible for much of the work of the United Nations, including controlling finances, passing resolutions, and electing non-permanent members of the Security Council. It has two subsidiary bodies dealing particularly with security and disarmament: the UN General Assembly Committee on Disarmament and International Security (First Committee); and the UN Disarmament Commission. For additional information, see the UNGA.
Bilateral
Bilateral: Negotiations, arrangements, agreements, or treaties that affect or are between two parties—and generally two countries.
Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT)
The PTBT: Also known as the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water prohibits nuclear weapons tests "or any other nuclear explosion" in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water. While the treaty does not ban tests underground, it does prohibit nuclear explosions in this environment if they cause "radioactive debris to be present outside the territorial limits of the State under whose jurisdiction or control" the explosions were conducted. The treaty is of unlimited duration. For additional information, see the PTBT.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The CTBT: Opened for signature in 1996 at the UN General Assembly, the CTBT prohibits all nuclear testing if it enters into force. The treaty establishes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to ensure the implementation of its provisions and verify compliance through a global monitoring system upon entry into force. Pending the treaty’s entry into force, the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO is charged with establishing the International Monitoring System (IMS) and promoting treaty ratifications. CTBT entry into force is contingent on ratification by 44 Annex II states. For additional information, see the CTBT.
First-use
The introduction of nuclear weapons, or other weapons of mass destruction, into a conflict. In agreeing to a "no-first-use" policy, a country states that it will not use nuclear weapons first, but only under retaliatory circumstances. See entry for No-First-Use
Non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS)
Non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS): Under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), NNWS are states that had not detonated a nuclear device prior to 1 January 1967, and who agree in joining the NPT to refrain from pursuing nuclear weapons (that is, all state parties to the NPT other than the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China).
Deterrence
The actions of a state or group of states to dissuade a potential adversary from initiating an attack or conflict through the credible threat of retaliation. To be effective, a deterrence strategy should demonstrate to an adversary that the costs of an attack would outweigh any potential gains. See entries for Extended deterrence and nuclear deterrence.
Ratification
Ratification: The implementation of the formal process established by a country to legally bind its government to a treaty, such as approval by a parliament. In the United States, treaty ratification requires approval by the president after he or she has received the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate. Following ratification, a country submits the requisite legal instrument to the treaty’s depository governments Procedures to ratify a treaty follow its signature.

See entries for Entry into force and Signature.
India-Pakistan Non-Attack Agreement
The India-Pakistan Non-Attack Agreement is a unique bilateral agreement that obligates India and Pakistan to refrain from undertaking, encouraging, or participating in actions aimed at causing destruction or damage to nuclear installations or facilities in each country. For additional information, see the India-Pakistan Non-Attack Agreement.
Lahore Declaration
The Lahore Declaration is an agreement in which India and Pakistan pledged to “take immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons and discuss concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields, aimed at prevention of conflict.” For additional information, see the NTI Inventory.

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