Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile will be the world’s Achilles heel

Will Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile be the region’s Achilles heel?

Oct 1, 2021 – 12:21 am EDT@theindpanorama0

“Some non-nuclear States have historically opposed the resolution in response to India testing nuclear weapons and becoming a nuclear-armed State in 1998. India can and needs to do more to get countries to reconsider their opposition, especially in light of Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan that has already led to rise in India-Pakistan tensions.

“While there are enough pundits predicting that Taliban and Pakistan will make for the most volatile bedfellows, there is no denying that the region’s power dynamics have been dramatically and drastically altered. A change that has taken everyone by surprise only goes to show that nothing can be ruled out. So, speaking of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile falling in the hands of Taliban is not as far-fetched as one would imagine.”

 By Priyanka Khanna

The predictable India-Pakistan rhetoric during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York and accusations flying right and left at the ongoing 48th session of the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva are shadowing the simmering worry as to what will happen to Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly raised doubts about Pakistan’s intentions
(Photograph / Jay Mandal- on assignment)

The 140-150 nuclear warheads that are currently stockpiled in Pakistan’s central storage facilities in its southern parts remain outside both the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

With the Afghanistan takeover by Taliban and given their bon homie with Pakistan, especially its intelligence, it is singularly worrying that Pakistan is the sole country that is blocking negotiations of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT).

While there are enough pundits predicting that Taliban and Pakistan will make for the most volatile bedfellows, there is no denying that the region’s power dynamics have been dramatically and drastically altered. A change that has taken everyone by surprise only goes to show that nothing can be ruled out. So, speaking of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile falling in the hands of Taliban is not as far-fetched as one would imagine.

The UN is not doing enough to push Pakistan to undertake disarmament. (Photograph / Jay Mandal- on assignment)

Which brings us to the question of why the UN is not doing enough to push Pakistan to undertake disarmament. In fact, according to the advocacy group – Unfold Zero – the UNGA was not even able to come together on nuclear disarmament resolutions. In the last nuclear disarmament UN meeting, nuclear risk-reduction was perhaps the only measure countries could come together for.

A resolution reducing nuclear danger submitted by India received 127 votes in favor (mostly non-aligned countries). It failed to get support of nuclear-armed or European countries, primarily because it only calls for nuclear risk reduction measures by ChinaFranceRussia, UK and USA – leaving out the other nuclear armed States – India, Pakistan, DPRK and Israel, according to unfoldzero.org.

A resolution on decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems submitted by a group of non-nuclear countries, was much more successful receiving 173 votes in favor, including from most of the NATO countries and from four nuclear armed States (China, DPRK, India, Pakistan).

A resolution on the Treaty on the Prohibition nuclear weapons (TPNW) was supported by 122 countries. This is more than the number who have signed the Treaty, which is 68 (with 19 of these countries having now ratified). The vote indicates that more signatures are likely. However, the resolution was not supported by any of the nuclear-armed countries, nor any of the countries under nuclear deterrence relationships, i.e., NATO, AustraliaJapanSouth Korea. The opposition of nuclear-armed and allied States to the resolution is another indication that they do not intend to join the new treaty. In general, this means that they will not be bound by the treaty’s obligations. However, the customary law against the use of nuclear weapons which is re-affirmed by the treaty will apply to all States regardless of whether or not they join.

India’s External Affairs Minister has voiced India’s concern about Pakistan’s stockpile of nuclear weapons to the world, including the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres. (Photograph / Jay Mandal- on assignment)

A resolution on the prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons submitted by India received 120 votes in favor, including from themselves and another three nuclear-armed States (China, DPRK and Pakistan). Some non-nuclear States have historically opposed the resolution in response to India testing nuclear weapons and becoming a nuclear-armed State in 1998. India can and needs to do more to get countries to reconsider their opposition, especially in light ofTaliban’s takeover of Afghanistan that has already led to rise in India-Pakistan tensions.

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