Pakistan nuclear warhead
This still image from a Pakistan military handout video shows a Hatf IX (NASR) missile being fired during a test at an undisclosed location in Pakistan April 19, 2011.Reuters

Pakistan's adoption of the "full-spectrum deterrence" doctrine has increased the risk of a possible nuclear conflict with neighbouring India, according to a recent US Congressional report.

Full-spectrum deterrence allows Pakistan to counter conventional threats through tactical nuclear weapons without having to wait for a nuclear attack.

Islamabad's nuclear arsenal is aimed at deterring India from taking military action against the country, said the report by Congressional Research Service (CRS), authored by Paul K Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin.

CRS is an independent research wing of the Congress, which prepares periodic reports to help US lawmakers take informed decisions. However, CRS reports are not considered an official view of the Congress.

"Pakistan's nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more. Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, deploying additional nuclear weapons and new types of delivery vehicles," PTI cited the report by CRS.

The 28-page report points to an increased risk of nuclear conflict between the South Asian neighbours over Pakistan's expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons and adoption of the "full-spectrum doctrine". This has urged India to continue expanding its nuclear arsenal as well.

"Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal," added the report.

Officials from Islamabad and Washington say Pakistan has taken several measures to improve its nuclear security and prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials following the 2004 revelations about a procurement network run by AQ Khan, the reports said

"However, instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question. Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan's nuclear complex," the CRS report added.