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Pakistan to have 200 nuclear weapons by 2020: US think tank

By on Monday, November 24th, 2014

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear weapons program in the world and by 2020 it could have enough fissile material to produce more than 200 nuclear devices, a top American think tank has said.

“Though many states are downsizing their stockpiles, Asia is witnessing a buildup. Pakistan has the fastest-growing nuclear program in the world. By 2020, it could have a stockpile of fissile material that, if weaponized, could produce as many as 200 nuclear devices,” council on foreign relations has said.

The report Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age, authored by George Mason University’s Gregory Koblentz, has identified South Asia as the region “most at risk of a breakdown in strategic stability due to an explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, crossborder terrorism, and growing nuclear arsenals.”

Pakistan, the report said, has deployed or is developing 11 delivery systems for its nuclear warheads, including aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

“Pakistan has not formally declared the conditions under which it would use nuclear weapons but has indicated that it seeks primarily to deter India from threatening its territorial integrity or the ability of its military to defend its territory,” the report said.

CFR said while Pakistan is focused predominantly on the threat posed by India, it is reportedly also concerned by the potential for the US to launch a military operation to seize or disarm Pakistani nuclear weapons.

“This concern is based in part on reported contingency planning by the US military to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists,” CFR said.

CFR said India is estimated to possess enough fissile material for between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons and is expanding its fissile material production capacity.

China, it said, is estimated to have 250 nuclear weapons for delivery by a mix of medium, intermediate, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles and bombers.

“Though nuclear arsenals are shrinking in the rest of the world, Asia is witnessing a nuclear buildup. Unlike the remaining P5 countries, China is increasing and diversifying its nuclear arsenal,” the report said.

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Russia to only use ISS until 2020: official

A senior Russian official said Tuesday that Russia will only need the International Space Station (ISS) until 2020, as previous plans by Washington to use it until 2024 were thrown into doubt amid the Ukraine crisis.

“We are planning to only need the ISS until 2020,” deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said, Interfax reported. “After 2020 we would like to use those resources on other promising space projects.”

In January, NASA said the US administration is extending the life of the $100 billion station from 2020 to 2024.

Russia’s Roscosmos federal space agency, which has been responsible for all manned spaceflight to the station after the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, was to sign an agreement with the US extending its lifespan by four years.

Rogozin’s remarks seemed to throw such prospects into doubt however, as he added that Russia has “some new strategic ideas” for the space industry that will require funds currently spent on resource-heavy manned spaceflight.

At the end of its operation the ISS, which was launched in 1998, will be put in a controlled de-orbit and plunged into the ocean.

In a series of remarks seemingly directed against the United States, Rogozin, who has been blacklisted by the West over his involvement in the Ukraine crisis, said that Russia will also “stop the work of (GPS) stations on Russian territory.”

Russia has been lobbying for the right to put its own monitor stations on US territory to improve the work of its satellite positioning system Glonass. However the initiative met opposition in the United States and was delayed.

Rogozin said there were 11 “infrastructure stations” for the US-run Global Positioning System in 10 Russian regions and that their operation will be “put on hold” starting June 1, giving Washington three months to agree to “proportionate cooperation” with Russia, he said.

It was not immediately clear what he was referring to, as no GPS base stations are known to be located in Russia.

Rogozin later said on Twitter that the move “won’t affect the signal quality that Russian users are getting” for consumer products like navigation systems.

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MENA military spending to reach $920 bn by 2020: study

By on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Military spending between 2014 and 2020 in the Middle East and North Africa will total $920 billion (662 billion euros), IHS Global Insight said in a forecast Tuesday.

The US-based consulting firm did not give an overall breakdown at the end of a forum it hosted in Dubai, but said $27 billion will have been injected into the economies of the Arab nations of the Gulf by 2020 from defence deals via offsets.

Offsets are agreements in which a supplier agrees to buy products from the party to whom it is selling, in order to win the buyer as a customer and offset the buyer’s outlay.

Guy Anderson, senior principal analyst at IHS Jane’s Aerospace, Defence and Security, said Saudi Arabia will gain most from its offset program with $12.6 billion to be added to the OPEC kingpin’s economy from such deals by 2020.

He said the United Arab Emirates would be in second place, with $12.2 billion added during the same time period.

Turning to the energy sector, IHS forecast that $350 billion in investment will be needed by 2030 to meet the rapid demand for power in the MENA region.

Meanwhile, Farrah Boularas, senior researcher at IHS Energy, said investments in energy refining and related facilities in the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council are expected to exceed a cumulative $80 billion through 2020.

“Between 2014 and 2020, IHS expects crude distillation and condensate-splitting capacity additions will increase regional output by around 1.5 million barrels per day,” Boularas added.

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