The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) has just published its take on what is going on, globally, in terms of nuclear weapons development.
One of the conclusions is that “hundreds of billions of dollars are earmarked for spending over the next decade, not only in the United States and Russia but in major development programs in China, India, Pakistan and elsewhere. Almost all of the nuclear armed states covered in this paper are continuing to produce new or modernized nuclear weapons and some, such as Pakistan and India, appear to be seeking smaller, lighter, warheads to allow these either to be delivered to greater distances or to allow them to be deployed over shorter ranges and for more tactical purposes.”
Russia is expected to spend $70 billion through 2020 on its Triad to include financing the fielding of a new ICBM around 2018, the fielding of the road-mobile RS-24, and for a range of other activities, such as the development of a new bomber.
While the report (to be read here) may not be breaking much new ground, it provides a useful overview of warhead development efforts and also delivery systems. That includes a brief examination of what is believed to be Israel’s Jericho III missile program and a range of different delivery options under development in India.
When it comes to Pakistan, BASIC also notes that “several commentators have pointed to worrying developments in Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure. Pakistan is thought to be improving its weapon designs and to be moving beyond its first generation weapons, developed using Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), to pursue plutonium based designs.”
BASIC also cites work by the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) that suggests Pakistan will double its annual production of weapon plutonium. Those warheads will also be smaller and a good fit for cruise missiles, such as the Babur it has just tested again.
In all, the report highlights that there is little sign the nuclear weapons industry, worldwide, is in decline.