Pak’s N-programme has increased risk of conflict with India: US report

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s “full spectrum deterrence” nuclear doctrine and increasing fissile production capability have increased the risk of a

BACKGROUND

Pakistan, a nuclear nightmare, dangerous to the world

Highlights

• Pakistan could in a decade become the world’s third-ranked nuclear power

• It would be behind the United States and Russia, but ahead of China, France and Britain.

• Its arsenal has become more lethal with the addition of small tactical nuclear weapons that can hit India

• Pakistan is also home to a slew of extremist groups, some of which are backed by a paranoid security establishment obsessed with India

With as many as 120 warheads, Pakistan could in a decade become the world’s third-ranked nuclear power, behind the United States and Russia, but ahead of China, France and Britain. Its arsenal is growing faster than any other country’s, and it has become even more lethal in recent years with the addition of small tactical nuclear weapons that can hit India and longer-range nuclear missiles that can reach farther.

These are unsettling truths. The fact that Pakistan is also home to a slew of extremist groups, some of which are backed by a paranoid security establishment obsessed with India, only adds to the dangers it presents for South Asia and, indeed, the entire world.

Persuading Pakistan to rein in its nuclear weapons program should be an international priority. The major world powers spent two years negotiating an agreement to restrain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, which doesn’t have a single nuclear weapon. Yet there has been no comparable investment of effort in Pakistan, which, along with India, has so far refused to consider any limits at all.

The Obama administration has begun to address this complicated issue with greater urgency and imagination, even though the odds of success seem small. The meeting at the White House on Oct. 22 between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan appears to have gone nowhere. Yet it would be wrong not to keep trying, especially at a time of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir and terrorism.

What’s new about the administration’s approach is that instead of treating the situation as essentially hopeless, it is casting about for the elements of a possible deal in which each side would get something it wants. For the West, that means restraint by Pakistan and greater compliance with international rules for halting the spread of nuclear technology. For Pakistan, that means some acceptance in the family of nuclear powers and access to technology.

At the moment, Pakistan is a pariah in the nuclear sphere to all but China; it has been punished internationally ever since it followed India’s example and tested a weapon in 1998. Pakistan has done itself no favors by refusing to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and by giving nuclear know-how to bad actors like North Korea. Yet, it is seeking treatment equal to that given to India by the West.

For decades, India was also penalized for developing nuclear weapons. But attitudes shifted in 2008 when the United States, seeking better relations with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies as a counterweight to China, gave India a pass and signed a generous nuclear cooperation deal that allowed New Delhi to buy U.S. nuclear energy technology.

U.S. officials say they are not offering Pakistan an India-like deal, which would face stiff opposition in Congress, but are discussing what Pakistan needs to do to justify U.S. support for its membership in the 48-nation Nuclear Supplier Group, which governs trade in nuclear fuel and technology.

As a first step, one U.S. official said, Pakistan would have to stop pursuing tactical nuclear weapons, which are more likely to be used in a conflict with India and could more easily fall into the hands of terrorists, and halt development of long-range missiles. Pakistan should also sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons tests.

Such moves would undoubtedly be in Pakistan’s long-term interest. It cannot provide adequate services for its citizens because it spends about 25 percent of its budget on defense. Pakistan’s army, whose chief of staff is due to visit Washington this month, says it needs still more nuclear weapons to counter India’s conventional arsenal.

The competition with India, which is adding to its own nuclear arsenal, is a losing game, and countries like China, a Pakistan ally, should be pushing Pakistan to accept that. Meanwhile, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has done nothing to engage Islamabad on security issues, and he also bears responsibility for current tensions. The nuclear arms race in South Asia, which is growing more intense, demands far greater international attention.
(By NYT Editorial Board) nuclear conflict
with India, a congressional report has said amid Pakistan’s efforts to drum up support for its NSG membership bid.

“Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons, and adoption of a doctrine called ‘full spectrum deterrence’ have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal,” the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report.

BACKGROUND

Our nuclear programme safer compared to India’s: Pakistan

WASHINGTON: Seeking to allay concerns about safety of its nuclear programme, Pakistan has asserted that unlike India, it has never suffered an accident or breach of security.

Amidst global concerns over the safety of its nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhary said the impression that Islamabad’s nuclear installations were insecure was baseless, Dawn online reported on Friday.

“Pakistan’s nuclear installations are not only secure but the world also acknowledges that they are,” he said.

Chaudhary, who is here to attend the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by US President Barack Obama, said the International Atomic Energy Agency has recorded 2,734 nuclear incidents worldwide, including five in India, but “not a single accident or breach happened in Pakistan, although our programme is 40 years old”.

The foreign secretary said it was wrong to describe Pakistan’s short-range missiles or small nukes as battlefield or tactical weapons.

“Pakistan has short-range and long-range missiles, and the purpose behind both is to deter aggression,” he said, adding “we want to prevent war, to prevent the space Indians created for war” by building military installations close to the Pakistani border as part of their cold start doctrine, he added.

“Calling them battlefield weapons creates a wrong perception. These are for deterrence, only and only for defence,” Chaudhary said. “There is no cause for concern.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was due to participate in the summit but he cancelled his visit in the backdrop of the deadly suicide attack at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore on March 27, in which at least 72 people, including 29 children, were killed and over 300 others injured.

Chaudhary is now representing Pakistan at the Summit.

The foreign secretary said Pakistan had installed radiation monitors at all sensitive facilities and planned to install more monitors at all 72 exit and entry points in the country.

“India, on the other hand, has an ambitious nuclear programme, and an equally ambitious conventional weapons programme,” he added. “We have a modest programme because we feel we have the right to defend ourselves.”Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal
probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more, said the report ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons’, authored by Paul K Kerr, analyst in non-proliferation, and Mary Beth Nikitin, specialist in non-proliferation.

According to the copy of the report dated June 14, which was obtained by PTI, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against it.

CRS is the independent research wing of the US Congress, which periodically prepares reports on issues of interest to American lawmakers for information purpose only and does not represent the official position of the US Congress.

Running into 30 pages, the report comes in the wake of Pakistan lobbying at the Capitol Hill and before the US government in support of its membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Though noting that Pakistan in recent years has taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal, the CRS report observed that 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. While US and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards,” CRS said in its report meant for the lawmakers to take an informed decision.

CRS said the current status of Pakistan’s nuclear export network is unclear, although most official US reports indicate that, at the least, it has been damaged considerably.

Referring to Pakistan’s NSG membership application, the CRS said according to US law, the Obama administration could apparently back Islamabad’s NSG membership without congressional approval.

In the past few weeks, top Pakistani leadership including its ambassador to the US has been writing letters to lawmakers and meeting government officials to push for its NSG bid.

CRS said press reports indicate that the US is considering supporting Islamabad’s NSG membership in exchange for Pakistani actions to reduce perceived dangers associated with the country’s nuclear weapons programme.

According to the report, despite Islamabad’s stated wish to avoid a nuclear arms race with India, Pakistan appears to be increasing its fissile production capability and improving its delivery vehicles in order to hedge against possible increases in India’s nuclear arsenal and also to deter Indian conventional military action.

“Indeed, aspects of the credible minimum deterrence doctrine have always been ambiguous and the concept appears to have changed over time,” it said, adding that Pakistani officials have argued that a variety of nuclear arsenals could satisfy credible minimum deterrence.

On introduction of tactical nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s inventory, CRS said some observers have expressed concern that such weapons could increase the risk of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan for at least two reasons.

First, Pakistani military commanders could lose the ability to prevent the use of such weapons, which would be more portable and mobile than Islamabad’s current nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.

“Second, Pakistani forces may launch non-strategic nuclear weapons in order to counter possible Indian preemptive attacks on those weapons’ launch platforms,” it said.

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