The Unavoidable: Nuclear Winter (Revelation 16:10)

Deterrence, without nuclear winter

Revelation 16: Nuclear Winter

Revelation 16: Nuclear Winter
Seth Baum

Seth Baum is executive director of the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute, a nonprofit think tank that Baum co-founded

The biggest danger posed by today’s large nuclear arsenals is nuclear winter. One or two nuclear strikes could wreak devastating destruction on a few regions, but would not destroy human civilization as a whole. The roughly 16,300 nuclear weapons that currently exist, though, are more than enough to cause nuclear winter, which, through extreme cold conditions, ultraviolet radiation, and crop failures, could threaten the whole of humanity. If we fail to avoid nuclear winter, we could all die, or we could see civilization collapse, never to return.

That makes avoiding nuclear winter paramount. But the world’s major powers, in particular the United States and Russia, have long argued that their large nuclear arsenals are required for deterrence. Deterrence means threatening another party with some sort of harm in order to persuade it not to do something. In this case, it means threatening massive nuclear retaliation to dissuade another country from launching an attack itself. If two countries were to follow through on their threats of nuclear retaliation, mutual destruction would be assured. That deters both sides from starting a war. But nuclear deterrence can fail, as demonstrated during events like the Cuban missile crisis, when there have been escalations towards nuclear war. (Martin Hellman, Ward Wilson, and others have documented such events.)

As things stand now, a failure of deterrence could result in nuclear winter. It may be possible, though, for the world’s biggest nuclear powers to meet their deterrence needs without keeping the large nuclear arsenals they maintain today. They could practice a winter-safe deterrence, which would rely on weapons that pose no significant risk of nuclear winter.

Since the 1980s, the standard policy stance of those concerned about nuclear winter has been to call for unconditional disarmament—without such requirements as having alternative weapons in place or achieving improved relations with other nuclear-armed states. And there have been some disarmament successes. The United States and Russia have significantly reduced their nuclear arsenals. The worldwide initiative to ban nuclear weapons based on their humanitarian impact has also done important work in recent years, benefiting nuclear and non-nuclear states alike.
But calls for unconditional nuclear disarmament can only get so far. Nuclear-armed countries are unlikely to make drastic reductions in their arsenals if doing so would compromise their perceived national security interests, in particular their ability to deter adversaries. In order to avoid nuclear winter, we need to work from the perspective of those who actually have the weapons. We must seek solutions that they will actually want to implement.

Drastic cuts required. How significantly do arsenals need to be cut to avoid nuclear winter? They don’t need to be reduced to zero, but the short answer is that nobody knows. Humanity’s ability to survive massive nuclear attacks is not well-studied. One recent study found that two billion people—nearly a third of humanity—could be at risk of starvation from a nuclear war involving just 100 weapons. The actual death toll could be even larger, because this study only looked at starvation. Secondary effects such as pandemics and violence could kill even more.

Based on current knowledge, then, I propose that the worldwide total of allowable nuclear weapons should be no more than 50. There is no guarantee that human civilization would survive a 50-weapon war, but the risk of nuclear winter would be very low.

Getting from today’s 16,300 nuclear weapons to 50 would require drastic cuts in the arsenals of every nuclear weapon state except North Korea, which is believed to have fewer than 10 nuclear weapons and may not have any. The eight major nuclear weapon states will not want to simply abandon their arsenals, though, without some ability to meet the same perceived need that the weapons fulfill.
That’s where winter-safe deterrence comes in. Deterrence doesn’t have to rely on large arsenals of nuclear weapons, or even on nuclear weapons at all. A range of candidate weapons could conceivably achieve the same goal without risking global catastrophe.

Alternatives to nuclear weapons. The ideal weapon would have a suite of attractive properties. It would not pose a significant proliferation risk. It would be affordable, technologically feasible, and politically acceptable. It would not significantly shift geopolitical power or destabilize the international system. And it could be used as a retaliatory second-strike weapon, which is crucial for deterrence.

Finding such a weapon, or system of weapons, is a tall order, though some arms are easy to rule out. Cyber weapons are bad deterrents because they work mainly in surprise attacks, and one cannot be deterred by weapons of which one is not aware. Contagious biological weapons pose as large a global catastrophic risk as large nuclear arsenals, so would not make the world safer.

Other weapons show more promise. For example, conventional prompt global strike systems now in development, which can reach anywhere on earth in as little as an hour, can be used to threaten small targets with much less total destruction than nuclear weapons. The United States is at the forefront of developing these weapons for this purpose, and Russia has also indicated interest. But the role of conventional prompt global strike and other conventional weapons will remain limited because they only threaten small targets. This compact focus is great insofar as it means less total destruction, but it can be bad for deterrence, which often leans on much larger threats.

Exploring “good” options for threatening large destruction is a peculiar and regrettable task in which no civilized person should take any joy. But if doing so can save many lives, and indeed save civilization itself, then it should be done. The two weapons that stand out are non-contagious biological weapons and nuclear electromagnetic pulse. The former could work well if deterrence requires threatening large human populations. The latter could work well when deterrence requires threatening large amounts of infrastructure. In both cases these are tentative conclusions, backed by only by my limited, preliminary study. Governments should not move forward with either weapon without more careful examination.

What is clear is that winter-safe deterrence appears feasible. This is excellent news. It gives some hope that the risk of nuclear winter can be minimized even while countries feel the need to deter each other. Ultimately, we should seek a world at peace, in which deterrence isn’t seen as necessary. While that world is still a work in progress, though, we should keep the world we live in now safe from nuclear winter and other global catastrophes. If we fail at this, the rest will be for nothing.

Editor’s note: The author’s paper on the issues addressed here, “Winter-Safe Deterrence: The Risk of Nuclear Winter and Its Challenge to Deterrence,” will be published in a forthcoming issue of Contemporary Security Policy.

Dark Days Ahead For The White House (Ezekiel 17)

G.O.P. Senators’ Letter to Iran About Nuclear Deal Angers White House
White House Storm
By PETER BAKERMARCH 9, 2015

WASHINGTON — The fractious debate over a possible nuclear deal with Iran escalated on Monday as 47 Republican senators warned Iran about making an agreement with President Obama, and the White House accused them of undercutting foreign policy.

In a rare direct congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations, the Republicans signed an open letter addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” declaring that any agreement without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.”
The letter appeared aimed at unraveling a framework agreement even as negotiators grew close to reaching it. Mr. Obama, working with leaders of five other world powers, argues that the pact would be the best way to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. But critics from both parties say that such a deal would be a dangerous charade that would leave Iran with the opportunity to eventually build weapons that could be used against Israel or other foes.

While the possible agreement has drawn bipartisan criticism, the letter, signed only by Republicans, underscored the increasingly party-line flavor of the clash. Just last week, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel the platform of a joint meeting of Congress to denounce the developing deal, and Senate Republicans briefly tried to advance legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit it to Congress, alienating Democratic allies.

The letter came as Secretary of State John Kerry’s office announced that he would return to Switzerland on Sunday in hopes of completing the framework agreement before an end-of-March deadline. Under the terms being discussed, Iran would pare back its nuclear program enough so that it would be unable to produce enough fuel for a bomb in less than a year if it tried to break out of the agreement. The pact would last at least 10 years; in exchange the world powers would lift sanctions.
Whether the Republican letter might undercut Iran’s willingness to strike a deal was not clear. Iran reacted with scorn. “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”

A senior American official said the letter probably would not stop an agreement from being reached, but could make it harder to blame Iran if the talks fail. “The problem is if there is not an agreement, the perception of who is at fault is critically important to our ability to maintain pressure, and this type of thing would likely be used by the Iranians in that scenario,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the negotiations.

The White House and congressional Democrats expressed outrage, calling the letter an unprecedented violation of the tradition of leaving politics at the water’s edge. Republicans said that by styling it as an “open letter,” it was akin to a statement, not an overt intervention in the talks.

“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “It’s an unusual coalition.”

Other Democrats were sharper. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, called it “just the latest in an ongoing strategy, a partisan strategy, to undermine the president’s ability to conduct foreign policy.” Senator Harry M. Reid of Nevada, the Democratic minority leader, said the “Republicans are undermining our commander in chief while empowering the ayatollahs.”

The letter, drafted by Senator Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas, and signed by all but seven members of the Senate Republican majority, warned Iran that a deal with Mr. Obama might not stick. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” said the letter, whose existence was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

Mr. Cotton said he drafted the letter because Iran’s leaders might not understand America’s constitutional system. He also said the terms of the emerging deal were dangerous because they would not be permanent and would leave Iran with nuclear infrastructure. He noted that four Republican senators who may run for president signed his letter and added that he tried without success to get Democrats to sign.

“The only thing unprecedented is an American president negotiating a nuclear deal with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism without submitting it to Congress,” he said on CNN.
The letter revived an old debate about what role Congress should have in diplomacy.

Jim Wright, the Democratic House speaker during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was accused of interfering when he met with opposing leaders in Nicaragua’s contra war. Three House Democrats went to Iraq in 2002 before President George W. Bush’s invasion to try to head off war. And Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, went to Syria in 2007 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad against the wishes of the Bush administration, which was trying to isolate him.

An agreement with Iran would not require immediate congressional action because Mr. Obama has the power to lift sanctions he imposed under his executive authority and to suspend others imposed by Congress. But permanently lifting those imposed by Congress, as Iran has sought, would eventually require a vote.

Rather than wait, Republicans, joined by several Democrats, drafted legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit the agreement to Congress. But when Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, moved to advance that legislation for a vote, Democrats who support it balked at taking action before the talks with Iran concluded. Mr. McConnell backed off, but the bill may be revived if a deal is reached.

Among the Republicans who declined to sign Mr. Cotton’s letter was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who has been working with Democrats on Iran legislation. “We’ve got a bipartisan effort that’s underway that has a chance of being successful, and while I understand all kinds of people want to weigh in,” he said, he concluded that it would not “be helpful in that effort for me to be involved in it.”

Some Democrats, like Representative Brad Sherman of California, said the letter and other moves risked making it a party-line issue, in which case it would be impossible to muster a two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto. “The number of Democrats not willing to follow the president’s lead is reduced when it becomes a personal or political issue,” he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei Is NO Cyrus (Ezra)

The Iranian Regime on Israel’s Right to Exist
JEFFREY GOLDBERG
MAR 9 2015, 8:32 AM ET

Vahid Salemi/AP 
 

The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, wants Jews to know that he, and the country he represents, are their friends. In an interview with Ann Curry, he accused the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of intentionally misreading Jewish scripture in order to make the case that Iran is malevolently predisposed toward Jews: “If you read the Book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews,” Zarif said. “If you read the Old Testament, you will see that it was an Iranian king who saved the Jews from Babylon. Esther has a town in Iran where our Jewish population, which is the largest in the Middle East, visits on a regular basis.

It is true that, at different times, and in different ways, Persia has been a friend of the Jews. Cyrus the Great (the Iranian king mentioned by Zarif in the interview) restored the Jews to their homeland in the Land of Israel after their Babylonian exile. President Harry Truman, who recognized the state of Israel in 1948, 11 minutes after it was reborn, later proclaimed proudly, “I am Cyrus.”  There is dark humor (or a lack of self-awareness) in Zarif’s citation of Cyrus as proof of Iranian philo-Semitism, because today’s Iranian leadership does not recognize Jewish sovereignty in Israel, as Cyrus once did, but instead seeks the annihilation of the Jewish state.

I am in favor of a negotiated agreement that will keep Iran at least a year away from a nuclear weapon in part because, in the post-Holocaust era, it is crucially important to keep such weapons out of the hands of those who promise to do Jews real harm. As I’ve written, it is not likely that Iran would launch a preemptive nuclear attack on Israel, but it would almost certainly redouble, under the protection of a nuclear umbrella, its work toward Israel’s eradication, with disastrous consequences. (We’ll have the argument over whether the agreement now taking shape is the best possible deal in another post. Suffice it to say that the parameters of the current, still-unfinished deal are cause for some worry.)

Netanyahu’s deployment of the Holocaust to make his case against Iran (and against the current deal) is controversial. There are many aspects of Netanyahu’s approach I find disagreeable and counterproductive(most, actually), but an Israeli prime minister who does not recognize that extinction-level threats directed at Jews have sometimes been more than aspirational is not fulfilling his responsibilities.

(For a recent example of an argument about the putative dangers of casting the Holocaust in political, cautionary terms, please see this post from my colleague James Fallows, who quotes an unnamed history professor at at a university in the Southwest arguing, in essence, that the Holocaust was so terrible and enormous that we should resist the urge to learn from it: “The constant reiteration of this particular event achieves little more than dumbing down the discourse: it’s the historical equivalent of hollering.” The professor goes on to write, “To paraphrase Levi-Strauss, the Holocaust is not particularly good to think with. Its extremity serves as a bludgeon.” This argument is unwise and unfair; just imagine the same argument in a specifically American historical context: Slavery was so terrible, and so extreme, that we shouldn’t talk about it in the context of politics, because someone is bound to use it as a bludgeon. An absurd argument, of course.)

I think it is possible to strike an appropriate balance in this debate, somewhere between, “The Jews should stop talking about the Holocaust so much,” which is the subtext of this professor’s complaint, and “The Nazis are coming” line of argument used periodically by Netanyahu and his allies.
The Iranian regime is not populated by Nazis, but it is led by people who do, in fact, seek the physical elimination of the Jewish state and its replacement by a Muslim state. It works toward this end, by sponsoring terrorist groups that regularly kill Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere.

So, as a reminder to those who argue that Jews should stop worrying so much about people who threaten to kill them, here is some (just some) of what Iran’s leaders, and leaders of its proxy militia, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, have said about Israel:Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran: “If we abide by real legal laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime … if we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill.” (2000)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” (2001)
Hassan Nasrallah, a leader of Hezbollah: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” (2002)
Nasrallah: “Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.’” (2005)
Yahya Rahim Safavi, the former commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps: “With God’s help the time has come for the Zionist regime’s death sentence.” (2008)
Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, Khamenei’s representative to the Moustazafan Foundation: “We have manufactured missiles that allow us, when necessary to replace [sic] Israel in its entirety with a big holocaust.” (2010)
Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Basij paramilitary force: “We recommend them [the Zionists] to pack their furniture and return to their countries. And if they insist on staying, they should know that a time while arrive when they will not even have time to pack their suitcases.” (2011)
Khamenei: “The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed.” (2012)
Ahmad Alamolhoda, a member of the Assembly of Experts: “The destruction of Israel is the idea of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is one of the pillars of the Iranian Islamic regime. We cannot claim that we have no intention of going to war with Israel.” (2013)
Nasrallah: “The elimination of Israel is not only a Palestinian interest. It is the interest of the entire Muslim world and the entire Arab world.” (2013)
Hojateleslam Alireza Panahian, the advisor to Office of the Supreme Leader in Universities: “The day will come when the Islamic people in the region will destroy Israel and save the world from this Zionist base.” (2013)
Hojatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s representative in the Revolutionary Guard: “The Zionist regime will soon be destroyed, and this generation will be witness to its destruction.” (2013)
Khamenei: “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.” (2014)
Hossein Salami, the deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard: “We will chase you [Israelis] house to house and will take revenge for every drop of blood of our martyrs in Palestine, and this is the beginning point of Islamic nations awakening for your defeat.” (2014)
Salami: “Today we are aware of how the Zionist regime is slowly being erased from the world, and indeed, soon, there will be no such thing as the Zionist regime on Planet Earth.” (2014)
Hossein Sheikholeslam, the secretary-general of the Committee for Support for the Palestinian Intifada: “The issue of Israel’s destruction is important, no matter the method. We will obviously implement the strategy of the Imam Khomeini and the Leader [Khamenei] on the issue of destroying the Zionists. The region will not be quiet so long as Israel exists in it …” (2014)
Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guard: “The Revolutionary Guards will fight to the end of the Zionist regime … We will not rest easy until this epitome of vice is totally deleted from the region’s geopolitics.” (2015)

A Sign Of The End: Babylon Is Divided (Ezekiel 17)

WASHINGTON — The fractious debate over a possible nuclear deal with Iran escalated on Monday as 47 Republican senators warned Iran about making an agreement with President Obama, and the White House accused them of undercutting foreign policy.
In a rare direct congressional intervention into diplomatic negotiations, the Republicans signed an open letter addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” declaring that any agreement without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president “with the stroke of a pen.”
The letter appeared aimed at unraveling a framework agreement even as negotiators grew close to reaching it. Mr. Obama, working with leaders of five other world powers, argues that the pact would be the best way to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. But critics from both parties say that such a deal would be a dangerous charade that would leave Iran with the opportunity to eventually build weapons that could be used against Israel or other foes.
OPEN Document
While the possible agreement has drawn bipartisan criticism, the letter, signed only by Republicans, underscored the increasingly party-line flavor of the clash. Just last week, the Republican House speaker, John A. Boehner, gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel the platform of a joint meeting of Congress to denounce the developing deal, and Senate Republicans briefly tried to advance legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit it to Congress, alienating Democratic allies.
The letter came as Secretary of State John Kerry’s office announced that he would return to Switzerland on Sunday in hopes of completing the framework agreement before an end-of-March deadline. Under the terms being discussed, Iran would pare back its nuclear program enough so that it would be unable to produce enough fuel for a bomb in less than a year if it tried to break out of the agreement. The pact would last at least 10 years; in exchange the world powers would lift sanctions.
Whether the Republican letter might undercut Iran’s willingness to strike a deal was not clear. Iran reacted with scorn. “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”
A senior American official said the letter probably would not stop an agreement from being reached, but could make it harder to blame Iran if the talks fail. “The problem is if there is not an agreement, the perception of who is at fault is critically important to our ability to maintain pressure, and this type of thing would likely be used by the Iranians in that scenario,” said the official, who spoke anonymously to discuss the negotiations.
The White House and congressional Democrats expressed outrage, calling the letter an unprecedented violation of the tradition of leaving politics at the water’s edge. Republicans said that by styling it as an “open letter,” it was akin to a statement, not an overt intervention in the talks.
“It’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran,” Mr. Obama told reporters. “It’s an unusual coalition.”
The letter, drafted by Senator Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas, and signed by all but seven members of the Senate Republican majority, warned Iran that a deal with Mr. Obama might not stick. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” said the letter, whose existence was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Mr. Cotton said he drafted the letter because Iran’s leaders might not understand America’s constitutional system. He also said the terms of the emerging deal were dangerous because they would not be permanent and would leave Iran with nuclear infrastructure. He noted that four Republican senators who may run for president signed his letter and added that he tried without success to get Democrats to sign.
“The only thing unprecedented is an American president negotiating a nuclear deal with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism without submitting it to Congress,” he said on CNN.
The letter revived an old debate about what role Congress should have in diplomacy.
Jim Wright, the Democratic House speaker during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, was accused of interfering when he met with opposing leaders in Nicaragua’s contra war. Three House Democrats went to Iraq in 2002 before President George W. Bush’s invasion to try to head off war. And Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, went to Syria in 2007 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad against the wishes of the Bush administration, which was trying to isolate him.
An agreement with Iran would not require immediate congressional action because Mr. Obama has the power to lift sanctions he imposed under his executive authority and to suspend others imposed by Congress. But permanently lifting those imposed by Congress, as Iran has sought, would eventually require a vote.
Rather than wait, Republicans, joined by several Democrats drafted legislation aimed at forcing Mr. Obama to submit the agreement to Congress. But when Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, moved to advance that legislation for a vote, Democrats who support it balked at taking action before the talks with Iran concluded. Mr. McConnell backed off, but the bill may be revived if a deal is reached.
Among the Republicans who declined to sign Mr. Cotton’s letter was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman who has been working with Democrats on Iran legislation. “We’ve got a bipartisan effort that’s underway that has a chance of being successful, and while I understand all kinds of people want to weigh in,” he said, he concluded that it would not “be helpful in that effort for me to be involved in it.”
Some Democrats, like Representative Brad Sherman of California, said the letter and other moves risked making it a party-line issue, in which case it would be impossible to muster a two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto. “The number of Democrats not willing to follow the president’s lead is reduced when it becomes a personal or political issue,” he said.

Pakistani Horn Can Now Annihilate ALL Of India (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile that can hit any point in India
Pakistan nuclear range
Jeremy Bender
Mar. 10, 2015, 1:32 PM

Pakistan successfully launched the latest version of an indigenously developed nuclear-capable cruise missile on Monday, The Washington Post reports.

The Shaheen-III missile has a maximum range of up to 1,700 miles, according to members of the Pakistani military. Depending upon the missile’s placement, Pakistan would be capable of carrying out a nuclear strike from Israel in the West to Kazakhstan in the north and Burma in the east.
The following map shows the missile’s ultimate range were it to be placed in the west of Pakistan.
Although the missile would allow Pakistan to target the entirety of the Middle East and Central Asia, the missile’s primary target would be Islamabad’s archrival: India.

With a range of 1,700 miles, the Shaheen-III would allow Pakistan to target any location in India with a nuclear strike.

“Now, India doesn’t have its safe havens anymore,” Shahid Latif, a former commander of the Pakistani air force, told the Post. “It’s all a reaction to India, which has now gone even for tests of extra-regional missiles … It sends a loud message: If you hurt us, we are going to hurt you back.”
The test comes a week after Pakistan and India held their first high-level talks in almost a year, the AFP reports. The development of the Shaheen-III is intended as a “credible deterrence” against any possible Indian aggression towards the country.

India’s military is superior to Pakistan’s in terms of technological capacity and sheer numbers. Any full-scale conventional war between the two countries would likely end with India blockading Pakistan’s ports and seizing a considerable amount of land.

To compensate, Pakistan has invested heavily in its nuclear deterrant. Although both countries have nuclear weapons, India has strict policies against the first use of the nuclear weapons. Pakistan does not share this stance, as the Post explains.

The Council on Foreign Relations estimated that there was a low chance of a war between India and Pakistan in 2015. However, if such a war were to take place it could conceivably involve the use of nuclear weapons from both sides. The two countries have had a shaky ceasefire in place since 2003, although they exchanged artillery shelling in October 2014.

India and Pakistan are the world’s 2nd and 10th biggest arms importers, respectively.
India has recently carried out its own missile tests. In October 2014, the country successfully tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile, and in December 2014 New Delhi began sea trials of a ballistic missile submarine.