The Asian Nuclear Horns Are Racing To THE END (Revelation 15:2)

‘Asia is the centre of a new nuclear arms race’

nuclear-weapons-map

Nuclear arms race in Asia
 By: Sandip Dighe]
 Mirror speaks to nuclear arms expert and award-winning scientist Manpreet Sethi on the logistics of weaponry in the subcontinent

Pakistan is way ahead in the race — it could possess up to 200 nuclear weapons by 2020; roughly equivalent to the United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal,” said Dr Manpreet Sethi, project head on Nuclear Security for the Centre for Air Power Studies of New Delhi. In the city to deliver a lecture on ‘India’s Nuclear Challenges’, organised by the Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies (CASS) and Science Forum of MES Abasaheb Garware College, Sethi waxed eloquent on her area of expertise. She was awarded the prestigious K Subrahmanyam Award for 2014, conferred on an Indian scholar, journalist or analyst, who has made an outstanding contribution in the area of strategic and security studies. Between 2002 and 2005, Sethi carried out a research project for the Department of Atomic Energy on ‘Nuclear Energy for India’s Energy Security at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in New Delhi’; she has also authored Argentina’s Nuclear Policy, coauthored ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy’, and has written several academic articles in national and international journals.

Q: How fast is Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile growing? It recently tested two missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads: the 900-km range Shaheen 1A and 1,500-km range Shaheen II.

While there are significant uncertainties about the scope and sophistication of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, the country, apparently, has the most aggressive one in the world for producing nuclear material for military purposes. By 2020, it could have sufficient weapons grade uranium and plutonium to manufacture more than 200 nuclear weapons, roughly equivalent of the size of UK’s nuclear arsenal.

Q: Where is Pakistan getting the material it needs to develop these weapons?

Pakistan has a history of assistance from China. Over time, it has developed its own systems; now, it is capable of manufacturing on its own. But, we suspect China might be assisting it in certain areas.

Q: How dangerous, then, does the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan become?

After the Kargil War, India developed a new doctrine of rapid, limited conventional military operations designed to punish Pakistan but remain below Pakistan’s presumed nuclear threshold. At present, the risk that terrorists could breach Pakistan’s nuclear security is magnified by the strong presence of domestic extremists and foreign jihadist groups there.

Q: What is your forecast for India-Pakistan for the next 5-10 years, in terms of security and nuclear weapons development?

Although India lauded the democratic change of government in Pakistan in 2013, the latter’s army’s role in the domestic power structure limits this. Still, while we are hopeful of peaceful relations, India has to keep its borders safeguarded and intelligence on high alert to guard against mischief.

Q: Do you think Asia is witnessing a nuclear weapons build-up?

It would be a cliche to say that only four countries — China, India, Pakistan and North Korea — are currently expanding their nuclear arsenals. Russia, and for that matter USA as well, are building new missiles, upgrading and modernising their weaponry. Although each nation’s build-up is motivated differently, the combination does make Asia the centre of a new nuclear arms race.

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