WASHINGTON: Pakistan is developing new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical ones, that bring more risks to the region, America’s intelligence chief warned on Tuesday.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats’ remarks came days after a group of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists struck the Sunjuwan Military Camp in Jammu, killing seven people including six soldiers.
Pakistan is developing new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, Coats told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats organised by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Pakistan continues to produce nuclear weapons and develop new types of nukes, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer-range ballistic missiles, he warned.
These weapons will introduce new risks for escalation of dynamics and security in the region, Coats said, reflecting on the risks involved in developing such types of nuclear weapons.
Coats also warned that Pakistan-supported terrorist groups would continue to carry out attacks inside India, thus risking escalation of tension between the two neighbours.
“Militant groups supported by Islamabad will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests,” Coats said during the hearing on ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ of the US intelligence community.
Coats said North Korea will be among the most volatile and confrontational weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats to the US over the next year.
North Korea’s history of exporting ballistic missile technology to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance during Syria’s construction of a nuclear reactor — destroyed in 2007 — illustrates its willingness to proliferate dangerous technologies.
In 2017 North Korea, for the second straight year, conducted a large number of ballistic missile tests, including its first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tests.
Pyongyang is committed to developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile that is capable of posing a direct threat to the United States.
It also conducted its sixth and highest yield nuclear test to date.
We assess that North Korea has a longstanding Biological Weapons (BW) capability and biotechnology infrastructure that could support a BW programme. We also assess that North Korea has a Chemical Weapons (CW) programme and probably could employ these agents by modifying conventional munitions or with unconventional, targeted methods, he said.
Coats said state efforts to modernise, develop, or acquire WMD, their delivery systems, or their underlying technologies constitute a major threat to the security of the United States, its deployed troops, and its allies.
Both state and non-state actors have already demonstrated the use of chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria.
Biological and chemical materials and technologies — almost always dual-use — move easily in the globalised economy, as do personnel with the scientific expertise to design and use them for legitimate and illegitimate purposes.
Information about the latest discoveries in the life sciences also diffuses rapidly around the globe, widening the accessibility of knowledge and tools for beneficial purposes and for potentially nefarious applications.