Pakistan is developing sea-based missiles and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear warheads to give it a “second-strike” capability if a catastrophic nuclear attack destroyed all its land-based weapons.
“We are on our way, and my own hunch is within a year or so, we should be developing our second-strike capability,” Shireen M Mazari, a nuclear expert and the former director of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, a Pakistani government-funded thinktank.
Instead of working to enhance the range of its missiles, Pakistan is developing shorter-range cruise missiles that fly lower to the ground and can evade ballistic missile defences, analysts said. Pakistan has repeatedly tested its indigenously produced, nuclear-capable, Babur cruise missile, which has a range of 640km and can strike targets at land and sea, military officials said.
Pakistan’s nuclear push comes amid heightened tension with US intelligence and congressional officials over the security of the country’s nuclear weapons and materials. US intelligence officials had increased surveillance of Pakistan in part because of concerns that nuclear materials could fall into the hands of terrorists.