The US has voiced concerns over Pakistan’s evolving “tactical nuclear weapons” doctrine, with the Pentagon underlining the increasing risks of an “incident” associated with the growing nuclear arsenal.
In a brefing to the Senate Armed Services Committee Vincent Stewart, Defence Intelligence Agency Director, said: “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons continues to grow. We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident. Islamabad continues to take steps to improve its nuclear security, and is aware of the threat presented by extremists to its programmes.”
In January 2016, a Congressional research report had estimated Pakistan’s nuclear warheads to be between 110-130 and said that they were aimed at deterring India from taking military action against it. “Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more,” the report said.
In the wake of the Pathankot terror attacks, there have been growing concerns about terror groups increasing their stronghold in the region and the fear of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of these groups.
“Counterinsurgency operations along Pakistan’s Western border and paramilitary operations in Karachi have had some success in reducing violence and are likely to continue,” Mr Stewart said. He also spoke about the possibility of Pakistan facing internal security threats from militants and separatist groups this year. The growing presence of Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda in South Asia is a major security concern for Islamabad, according to Mr Stewart.
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