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Published on : Sep 22, 2014

Renewing international concerns about the accumulation of weapons in one of the most volatile regions of the world, Pakistan is looking to expand its nuclear warhead by developing short-range and sea-based nuclear weapons. 

The idea behind sea-based missiles is that in the event of a catastrophic nuclear attack destroying all of Pakistan’s land-based weapons, the country would have a “second-strike” capability. The missiles will be launched from the Indian Ocean either from one of Pakistan’s five Navy submarines or from warships. 

The move has raised concerns from many given the fact that Pakistan is home to over two dozen Islamist extremist groups and housing nuclear weapons of this capacity is clearly a matter of international interest.

Pakistan has, for over a decade, been hinting at bolstering its nuclear arsenal and has conducted at least eight tests of different missiles over the past two years. The indigenously-produced Babur cruise missile with a range of 640km has been repeatedly tested to ascertain its capability to strike land and sea. In 2012, the Naval Strategic Force command was created to oversee nuclear weapons. In 2011, Pakistan tested a new nuclear-capable, tactical, battlefield missile with a 60km range.

In September 2013, US intelligence officials heightened surveillance of Pakistan with the concern that nuclear materials could fall into the wrong hands, especially terrorists. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has urged that all “nuclear-capable states” understand and restrain their nuclear and missile capabilities. Although Pakistani military officials refused to comment on the matter, reports by a Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative has termed Pakistan as the “most improved” nation in terms of safeguarding nuclear materials.