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India Pakistan news: Pakistan continues to lead nuclear warheads, but India confident in deterrence | India News


NEW DELHI: Pakistan remains slightly ahead of India in the number of nuclear warheads, while China has more than double the number, but the Indian defense establishment remains confident in its growing capacity for strategic deterrence.

China now has 320 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan has 160 compared to 150 from India, says the latest assessment by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.

The SIPRI report on “world nuclear forces” comes at a time when India is grappling with a major troop confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, with rival military accumulations along the current 3,488km Line of Control. The 778 km control line, in turn, remains extremely volatile with daily exchanges of intense bombardment between India and Pakistan.

But Indian defense sources say the “simplistic nuclear warhead grain count” is of little relevance. India continues to progressively modernize its nuclear arsenal, with an emphasis on “safe, effective and rapid second strike capability” for strong deterrence, they said.

To this end, after the long-standing “ground vectors” (700 km from Agni-I to Agni-V ballistic missiles over 5,000 km) and “aerial vectors” (Mirage-2000 and jury-armed Jaguar fighters to deliver nuclear weapons gravity bombs), India is now slowly but steadily strengthening the third leg of its nuclear triad (N-triad).

The country’s second nuclear-powered nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arighat, is on track to start operating after the first, INS Arihant, launched its first deterrence patrol in late 2018.

Additionally, the 3,500-km-range K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) was tested twice in January this year, paving the way for serial production. The solid-fuel K-4 will eventually replace the 750-km-range K-15 missiles aboard the submarines.

Pakistan does not yet have the “maritime” stretch of the N-triad, although it is developing the 450km “Babur-3” SLBM, which was first tested in 2017. China is in a completely different league, with its Type- 094 or Jin-class submarines armed with 7,400 km JL-2 missiles.

India, of course, remains concerned about the continued clandestine link in terms of nuclear and missile proliferation between China, Pakistan and North Korea.

The SIPRI report, for its part, said that EE. USA And Russia with 5,800 and 6,375 nuclear warheads respectively, together represent more than 90% of the estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons in early 2020.

The arsenals of the other nuclear-weapon states (France (290), the United Kingdom (215), Israel (90) and North Korea (30-40), apart from China, Pakistan and India) are considerably smaller. “But all of these states are developing or deploying new weapons systems or have announced their intention to do so,” SIPRI said.

China, for example, is in the midst of a significant modernization of its nuclear arsenal, with new land and sea missiles, as well as nuclear-capable aircraft for its N-triad.

“Pakistan continues to prioritize the development and deployment of new nuclear weapons and delivery systems as part of its full spectrum deterrence stance vis-à-vis India,” said SIPRI.

“India and Pakistan are slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces, while North Korea continues to prioritize its military nuclear program as a central element of its national security strategy,” he added.

Recognizing that there were low or variable levels of transparency about the state of nuclear arsenals, SIPRI said: “The governments of India and Pakistan make statements about some of their missile tests, but provide little information on the status or size of their arsenals. ”

Russia and the United States, of course, have extensive and costly programs in place to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapons production facilities.

“Both countries have also given a new or expanded role to nuclear weapons in their military plans and doctrines, marking a significant change in the post-Cold War trend toward the gradual marginalization of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Times of India