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Pakistan among TOP nations on a nuke shopping spree

Last updated on: October 31, 2011 13:22 IST

Pakistan among TOP nations on a nuke shopping spree

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Pakistan is among several nations planning a spending spree on nuclear weapons, the others being the United States and Russia.

The United States is expected to spend 700 billion pounds in next decade. Russia will spend at least 70 billion dollars on delivery systems alone.

Other countries including China, India, Israel, France and Pakistan are expected to devote formidable sums on tactical and strategic missile systems.


Image: Parts of a B53 nuclear bomb are pictured prior to shredding at the Pantex nuclear weapons storage facility outside Amarillo, Texas
Photographs: Reuters
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Pakistan and India, the report warns, appear to be seeking smaller, lighter nuclear warheads so they have a greater range or can be deployed over shorter distances for tactical or "non-strategic" roles.

The Guardian quotes a report as saying that the world's nuclear powers are planning to spend hundreds of billions of pounds modernising and upgrading weapons warheads and delivery systems over the next decade.

A common justification for the new nuclear weapons programmes is the perceived vulnerability in the face of nuclear and conventional force development elsewhere.


Image: This still image from a Pakistan military handout video shows a Hatf IX missile being fired during a test at an undisclosed location in Pakistan
Photographs: Reuters
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For example, Russia has expressed concern over the US missile defence and Conventional Prompt Global Strike programmes.

China has expressed similar concerns about the US as well as India, while India's programmes are driven by fear of China and Pakistan.

Pakistan justifies its nuclear weapons programme by referring to India's conventional force superiority, the report observes.


Image: Demonstrators hold a sign during an anti-nuclear weapons protest rally and march in New York
Photographs: Chip East/Reuters
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Despite government budget pressures and international rhetoric about disarmament, evidence points to a new and dangerous "era of nuclear weapons", the report for the British American Security Information Council warns.

For several countries, including Russia, Pakistan, Israel and France, nuclear weapons are being assigned roles that go well beyond deterrence, says the report.

In Russia and Pakistan, it warns, nuclear weapons are assigned "war-fighting roles in military planning".


Image: This view shows closed down plants at the site of China's first nuclear weapons base in Haiyan county, Qinghai province
Photographs: Reuters
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The report is the first in a series of papers for the Trident Commission, an independent cross-party initiative set up by BASIC.

Its leading members include former Conservative defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Liberal Democrat leader and defence spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell and former Labour defence secretary Lord Browne.

There is also a strong case, they say, for a fundamental review of the UK nuclear weapons policy.


Image: A crowd watches the re-creation of the world's first nuclear explosion in Flanagan, Nevada
Photographs: Lee Celano/Reuters
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