Pakistan Doubles Its Nuclear Arsenal: Is It Time to Start Worrying?

According to recent reports in the New York Times and Washington Post, Pakistan has nearly doubled its nuclear arsenal to more than 100 weapons and appears on track to soon surpass Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power. While Pakistan’s nuclear buildup may be jarring at first glance, it is important to take a moment to examine what this development means and what it does not. Pakistan’s entry into the "nuclear 100 club" does little to change the strategic situation in South Asia, nor does this determined pursuit of nuclear weapons signal a major policy shift in Pakistani behavior. In fact, Pakistan’s nuclear buildup is unlikely to affect US, Pakistani, or global security in the short term. Instead, Pakistan’s growing nuclear stockpile is simply the latest reminder of a problem of which experts and policymakers have been long aware: The outdated Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has become increasingly ineffective at combating proliferation in the twenty-first century, and the international consensus and political will necessary to update the treaty remain out of sight.

This article was originally published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.