Pakistan is warning rival India’s rapid expansion of its nuclear weaponry and construction of a “secret nuclear city” to produce a thermonuclear arsenal pose a direct threat to Islamabad and the region at large.
“[India] has a stockpile of fissile material for producing the nuclear weapons outside the IAEA safeguards. It is also building a secret nuclear city in south India,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Thursday at a weekly news conference.
He referred to a report by Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine, in which New Delhi was accused of building the nuclear facility in Karnataka.
India promptly rejected Pakistan’s allegations as unfounded, saying New Delhi has always been in compliance with its international obligations.
“These are completely baseless allegations. The so-called secret nuclear city is a figment of Pakistan’s imagination,” said Vikas Swarup, Indian ministry of external affairs spokesman.
The magazine reported the project is expected to be completed this year and would be “the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories, and weapons-and aircraft-testing facilities.”
“With conventional weapons balance already disturbed, India’s nuclear weapons build-up has dangerous proportions to tip the strategic balance and endanger the peace of the region and beyond,” asserted Zakaria.
Pakistan is also accused of possessing the world’s fastest growing nuclear weapons program and has recently tested ballistic missiles, including one capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads to as far as 2,000 kilometers.
Tensions have heightened between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region, preventing the rival nations from resuming their wide-ranging peace dialogue to normalize bilateral ties.
The South Asia rival nations have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir and engaged in a limited conflict in 1999 over the divided Himalayan region.
New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of sponsoring terrorist activities on their respective soils, the main cause of latest tensions between the two.