Pakistan is on the verge of overtaking Britain as the world's fifth largest nuclear power at a time when the country faces an unprecedented threat from extremists.
American intelligence agencies believe that Pakistan now has more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons, an increase of nearly 40 per cent in two years.
It means that one of the countries considered the most unstable in the region is ahead of both Britain and, significantly arch-rival India, to own the fifth largest nuclear arsenal behind the United States, Russia, France and China.
Pakistani nuclear weapon
Asif Ali Zardari
Pakistan showed they had nuclear weapons after their display three years ago (left) though President Asif Ali Zardari could face questions as to how the country can afford to keep investing in weapons
MEANWHILE IN INDIA ...
The Times reported today that the world's biggest nuclear power station might well involve several British companies, including Rolls Royce and Serco.
A top drawer trade delegation team from Britain, led by Lady Judge,touched down in Mumbai today, with a view to helping build the six giant reactors in Jaitapur, on the west coast of India.
The park will cost £13.5billion and will have a capacity of 9,900 megawatts, which is more than the combined output of eight Sizewell B stations (which serve two million British homes each).
In July Prime Minister David Cameron signed a pact to share civil technology with India, and John NcNamara of the Nuclear Industry Association in Britain said that the proposal at Jaitapur is 'certainly of interest', according to the Times.
India are looking to quadruple their nuclear power output by 2020 with the help of the super plant.
The Pakistan military says it needs more nuclear weapons to counter and deter India's more conventional military might.
The two countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998, and have fought three wars since partition and independence in 1947.
The U.S. analysis is based on the recent increase in the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium and some experts put the figure for nuclear weapons as high as 110.
Many of these have been miniaturised to be mounted on ballistic missiles with ranges of more than 1,245 miles bringing many Indian cities within reach.
The weapons have been kept at depots all over Pakistan - some are said to be near the main air bases.
The revelation of the growing size of its nuclear weapons will throw the spotlight on the massive aid packages given to Islamabad by the West, especially the U.S..
It will also raise questions about how the beleaguered administration of President Asif Ali Zardari can justify spending on nuclear weapons when so many in his country live in poverty and appalling conditions.
Last year millions was raised worldwide by charities for victims of Pakistan's devastating floods.