Even the IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano Warns of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano warns nuclear weapons easier than ever to get and is monitoring vital in North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia – CBS News

Updated on: April 3, 2019 / 3:32 PM

United Nations — Nuclear weapons are easier to get than ever before, and that means new risks as more countries seek to develop their programs.

„In general terms, the technology to develop nuclear weapons is an old one, dating back 70 years, and after that lots of progress has been made in technology,“ said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). „You can get the information, you can get the material, the education. It’s available.“

The nuclear weapons club has remained small; only a handful of countries have fully developed programs. But Amano, the world’s so-called nuke chief, warns that „the current environment“ makes it „easier for countries to proliferate.“

„That is one of the reasons why we have to strengthen our activities to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and verify that all the material and equipment stay for a peaceful purpose,“ he said.

The IAEA was formed in 1957 and is charged with promoting the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology — and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Amano, a Japanese diplomat who became head of the nuclear watchdog agency in 2009, sounded one reassuring note in a wide-ranging interview with CBS News: The threat „does not keep me up at night… the IAEA is doing its job.“

Here’s how Amano sees the state of nuclear technology in three key countries: North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

North Korea’s nuclear program advancing

Amano said that over the last decade North Korea’s „nuclear program has significantly expanded.“

„Over the past year, activities at some facilities continued or developed further,“ he said.

His comments come after warnings from South Korean officials and independent analysts that, with U.S. efforts to negotiate the „complete denuclearization“ of the Kim regime stalled, North Korea has rebuilt its primary long-range rocket test site and is also operating its main nuclear research facility.

The North has explicitly warned that it could resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.

Amano said the IAEA „is the only international organization that can verify and monitor denuclearization in an impartial, independent and objective manner,“ but with the U.S. talks — the only real current dialogue with North Korea — going nowhere, there was little hope that inspectors could enter the isolated country any time soon.

Ever hopeful, Amano noted that the IAEA was ready and able to send a team of inspectors into the country „within weeks,“ if an agreement were to be reached.

Iran still sticking to nuke deal

„I don’t see activities that are contrary to the Iran nuclear agreement … but we need to monitor very, very carefully,“ Amano said of the international agreement that the Trump administration unilaterally walked away from last year.

All of the other parties to the agreement hammered out by former President Barack Obama; Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany, Britain and the European Union, are still trying to keep it viable.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The IAEA has said consistently since the agreement was reached that Iran continues to abide by it, and he confirmed on Tuesday to CBS News that the agency’s „inspectors have had access to all the sites and locations in Iran which they needed to visit.“

Mr. Trump had long bashed the deal as too generous to Tehran. He pulled the U.S. out for that reason — the White House has never claimed that Tehran was in violation of the deal.

„So far they are implementing“ the agreement, Amano said of Iran. He noted that the U.S. is „a very important country, so, of course, it (the U.S. withdrawal) has impact.“

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy bid

Saudi Arabia is eager to join the nuclear energy community, as rapid economic development has left it hungry for electricity. The kingdom is currently reviewing bids from international companies to build its two first nuclear reactors, but it is not currently held to the most rigid international standards for nuclear oversight. That, experts and the IAEA say, is a problem.

The Trump administration has appeared keen, regardless, to push ahead and secure the contract to help build a Saudi nuclear energy program for a U.S. firm. The White House has said if the U.S. doesn’t get the contract, a country with less interest in ensuring a verifiably safe and legal nuclear program may get it instead.

Westinghouse is leading a U.S. consortium competing for the contract against companies from China, France, Russia and South Korea.

In the late 90s the IAEA adopted a new, stricter monitoring program known as the „additional protocol.“ Many countries with nuclear programs, old and new, have agreed to adhere to the new oversight mechanism, but not Saudi Arabia.

Amano said the additional protocol is, „a powerful verification tool that gives the Agency broader access to information about all parts of a State’s nuclear fuel cycle. It also gives our inspectors greater access to sites and locations, in some cases with as little as two hours‘ notice.“

Saudi Arabia insists it is only pursuing nuclear energy, not weapons, but remarks by the conservative Islamic kingdom’s future king have led to concerns that it could change its mind on that point.

Last year Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told „60 Minutes“ that his country „does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb — but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.“

„I think there is indeed a danger of a slippery slope,“ Gary Sick, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute and a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, told CBS News. He believes Saudi Arabia should be held to the same strict standard Iran has been.

The world „should insist on the same level of assurance; (that) under no circumstances will it ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons,“ Sick told CBS News.

Brett Bruen, the former Global Engagement Director at the White House, told CBS News that Saudi Arabia „is precisely the sort of country that shouldn’t have access to our nuclear technology. Even if we see the need for an alliance of convenience against Iran and ISIS, that doesn’t necessitate that we hand over the recipe for our secret sauce.“

The IAEA has been working with Saudi Arabia for several years, and even the soft-spoken Amano wants additional verification for the kingdom.

„Not only Saudi Arabia, but I am asking all the countries to implement the additional protocol. This would increase confidence,“ Amano said.

First published on April 3, 2019 / 9:33 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Pamela Falk

Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations

India has the Mother of Nukes (Revelation 8)

Narendra Modi has warned Pakistan about India’s nuclear capability (Image: AFP)

Modi Warns Pakistan Against ‘Threats’: India Has ‘Mother of Nuclear Bombs’

INDIA’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has upped the stakes in his country’s ongoing war of words with neighbour and rival Pakistan – by bragging that his country has „the mother of nuclear bombs“, adding that it was „now Pakistan’s turn to weep“.

By Ciaran McGrath 20:20, Thu, Apr 18, 2019 | UPDATED: 20:40, Thu, Apr 18, 2019

India Pakistan: Kashmir is ‘flash point’ of nuclear war

Mr Modi, who is campaigning as the 900-million strong nation goes to the polls over the course eight days, with voting due to finish on Sunday, made his inflammatory remarks during a rally in Surendranagar in the western state of Gujarat yesterday. Tensions between India and Pakistan were raised in February after a bomb attack in the disputed Kashmir region which killed 44 paramilitary policemen was later claimed by Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). India responded with air strikes on Jaish camps which it claimed had resulted in the deaths of 400 militants, with Pakistan later downing two Indian Air Force jets as the situation threatened to escalate into all-out war.

We have the mother of nuclear bombs

Narendra Modi

Mr Modi, leader of the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said: „We have the mother of nuclear bombs.

„I decided to tell them, do whatever you want to do but we will retaliate.

„In the past our people would weep, go around the world saying Pakistan did this, did that. It is now Pakistan’s turn to weep.

“Those days are gone when India would give in to threats.

„This is a new India and it will strike terrorists well inside their hideouts across the border.“

In a separate development, India suspended cross-border trade with Pakistan-controlled Kashmir because it was being used to funnel weapons and drugs, the government claimed on Thursday, in a further crackdown in the volatile territory.

On Thursday, the Indian home ministry said it had been receiving information that militant groups were using the cross border route to send arms, drugs and fake Indian currency.

The ministry said: „Unscrupulous and anti-national elements are using the route as a conduit for money, drugs and weapons, under the garb of this trade.“

Mr Modi on the campaign trail (Image: AFP)

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility, is claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, but is ruled in part by both south Asian countries.

The two countries have almost gone to war over the territory on several occasions.

Joshua Pollack, the editor of the Nonproliferation Review and a senior research associate with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told Express.co.uk last month: “The India-Pakistan situation is particularly troublesome because of the Kashmir dispute and the terrorist organisations that operate out of Pakistan.

“There has been an entire series of these crises going back to about 2001.

Disputes between India and Pakistan centre on the Kashmir region (Image: GETTY)

“Usually, the White House, State Department, and Pentagon scramble to urge restraint on the parties.

„Not this time, as far as anyone can tell; they had to figure out how to extricate themselves from this mess.

“That may bode poorly for the future, at least if the US doesn’t make a concerted effort to rebuild its diplomatic position.“

India is Stoking Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

India’s prime minister is stoking the flames of nuclear war again on a day of the National Elections. | Source: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File, (2) Photo Photo by THOMAS PETER / POOL / AFP, (iii) Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP; Edited by CCN.:

India Threatens Pakistan With ‘Mother of Nuclear Bombs’; Where’s Trump?

Ben Brown

By CCN.com: India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has threatened to wipe Pakistan out with the “mother of nuclear bombs.”

The threatening speech came, ironically, on India’s national day of peace, known as Mahavir Jayanti. Speaking in front of packed crowds, Modi said:

We have the mother of nuclear bombs. I decided to tell [Pakistan], do whatever you want to do but we will retaliate.”

Oops, he did it again. Prime Minister Modi reminded voters of the air strike on Pakistan at a campaign rally in Chhattisgarh. pic.twitter.com/kG8VZYi5az

— Brut India (@BrutIndia) April 17, 2019

“It’s Pakistan’s Turn to Weep”

Modi dialed up the military threat against Pakistan proclaiming his “new India” will act tough on terrorists.

“Earlier, terrorists from Pakistan would come here and go back after conducting an attack. Pakistan would threaten us, saying it has the nuclear bomb and will press the button… In the past our people would weep, go around the world saying Pakistan did this, did that. It is now Pakistan’s turn to weep.”

Modi’s aggression is a strong statement of intent as he fights a bitter seven-part election in India. He also hinted that Indian forces could launch a ground attack:

“Shall we not kill them by entering their houses?”

Inside the India’s massive general election – the world’s largest democratic exercise https://t.co/FRkJqqFDPv pic.twitter.com/SJfvl62V24

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 13, 2019

India and Pakistan Nuclear Knife Edge

The two nuclear-armed nations have been locked in a tense standoff since February this year. 

Tensions flared when 40 Indians were killed in a suicide attack. An attack for which Pakistani based terrorist group JeM claimed responsibility.

India struck back with airstrikes across the controversial Line of Control. In this week’s speech, Modi boasted about the airstrikes: “Pakistan has been threatening us for a long time with its nuclear capability but the IAF called its bluff with its strikes.”

India Just Triggered a Ballistic “Space Weapon” and Pakistan Should Be Terrified https://t.co/kXE4ThXn4f

— CCN.com (@CCNMarkets) March 27, 2019

Since then, both sides have aggressively displayed their military might. Pakistan pointed a fleet of fighter jets at the border, while India went a step further, shooting down a satellite with a ballistic space missile.

Where Is the West?

Despite the intensifying threat of nuclear war in the Indian subcontinent, the global community is eerily quiet.

The US, in particular, has long played a mediator role in the region, helping to dial down aggression between India and Pakistan when tensions flared. Under Donald Trump, however, there is no such mediator.

Aside from a handful of empty statements and choking aid to Pakistan, the Trump administration has largely ignored the developing conflict.

Path to World War Three?

While global conflict might seem unlikely, there are complex ties at play here. China has positioned itself a key ally behind Pakistan, while India has close relationships with the US and Russia.

The global distribution of nuclear warheads. Source: Atomic Scientists

Military escalation between India and Pakistan has potentially huge ramifications on international relations. The US, China, and Russia could be inadvertently dragged into a conflict they could have prevented earlier.

For now, India’s threat is clear: it intends to strike Pakistani territory again:

“Those days are gone when India would give in to threats. This is a new India and it will strike terrorists well inside their hideouts across the border.”

Pakistan and Iran Join Nuclear Horns (Daniel 8)

PM to meet Khamenei, Rouhani during maiden Iran visit

Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday officially announced the first-time visit to Iran by Prime Minister Imran Khan accompanied by a high-level delegation on April 21-22.

“The prime minister’s visit to Iran will further the close bilateral relationship between the two countries. The visit is in response to an invitation by President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani and the prime minister will be accompanied by ministers for finance, human rights, maritime affairs, inter-provincial coordination, adviser on commerce, task force on energy and special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resources besides several senior officials,” said an announcement from the Foreign Office.

Before landing in Tehran, the prime minister’s delegation will stop-over briefly at Mashhad for Ziarat at the Imam Reza shrine beside another engagement for which details are not being shared with media.

Bilateral talks between the two sides will include a meeting with Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei, besides holding detailed consultations with President Rouhani. “The prime minister will also meet members of the Iranian and Pakistani business community in Iran,” the announcement added.

This visit to Iran by Imran Khan is being widely welcomed, as Iran is the only immediate neighbour that he is able to visit. It also goes a long way to balance Pakistan’s relations where even in the past Pakistan’s tilt towards Saudi Arabia was not a secret. This helps Islamabad to remain neutral in the continuing tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.

“Pakistan’s relations with Iran are marked by close historic and cultural linkages and strong people to people exchanges. Pakistan and Iran are also members of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC),” said the Foreign Office.

Iran celebrated Pakistan’s last Independence Day in an unprecedented manner with reports saying that there was display of large greeting hoardings along major highways in Iranian cities.

The foreign ministry makes no mention about the now nearly forgotten gas pipeline project between the two sides though there has been continuing interest by Iran to pursue it. Prime Minister Imran Khan faces several challenges with relations with Iran, so this maiden visit will be a chance at the highest level to smooth out the bilateral ties with Iran.

Pakistan Warns of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

India Pakistan CONFLICT: Imran Khan issues India nuclear WARNING – ’no one can predict‘

PAKISTAN’S Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a dire warning to his neighbouring country as he branded India’s attack on his „nuclear-armed“ country as „irresponsible“ and warned Pakistan „would have no choice“ but to strike back in the future.

By Alessandra Scotto di Santolo 10:32, Wed, Apr 10, 2019 | UPDATED: 10:33, Wed, Apr 10, 2019

India Pakistan: Kashmir issue cannot keep boiling says PM Khan

Speaking to the BBC, Imran Khan called on his Indian counterpart to come to a peaceful dialogue over the „oppression of Kashmir“ and claimed the number one priority for the two nations should be tackling poverty. He said: “Surely the number one task of the two governments should be: how are we going to reduce poverty? And the way we reduce poverty is by settling our differences through dialogue.

“And there is only one difference, which is Kashmir. It has to be settled.

“The Kashmir issue cannot keep on boiling like it is because anything happening in Kashmir – through a reaction to the oppression which is taking place in Kashmir – it would be palmed off n Pakistan.

“We would be blamed and tensions would rise as they have risen in the past.

“So if we can settle Kashmir, the benefits of peace are tremendous in the subcontinent.”

But speaking about the dangers of confrontation escalating between the two countries, Mr Khan warned: „Once you respond, no-one can predict where it can go from there.”

If India had „come back and then again attacked Pakistan, Pakistan would have no choice but to respond,“ he added.

“So in that situation, two nuclear-armed countries, I just felt it was very irresponsible.“

The two nations remain at loggerheads following a terror attack in Kashmir which sparked a series of airstrikes.

Last week, Pakistani authorities claimed India is about to launch a new attack.

India launched a series of airstrikes on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 17, in a bid to flush out terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The military action came after a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14 left 46 soldiers dead.

India Pakistan: Crossfire breaks out in Poonch district

Pakistan retaliated by shooting down planes responsible for the air raids and capturing Indian Wing Commander pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

After his release, a fragile ceasefire resumed between the countries, but things could soon change according to claims made by Pakistani officials.

Pakistan has come forward with claims of “reliable intelligence” showing Indian authorities are planning another attack on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs in Pakistan’s government, made the announcement on Sunday.

Talking in an official statement from his hometown of Multan, he said: „We have reliable intelligence that India is planning a new attack on Pakistan.

“As per our information, this could take place between April 16 and 20.”

The Truth About the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Why a So-Called „Limited“ Nuclear War Between India and Pakistan Would Devastate the Planet

Welcome to nuclear winter.

Between February 26 and 27 in 2019, Indian and Pakistani warplanes launched strikes on each other’s territory and engaged in aerial combat for the first time since 1971. Pakistan ominously hinted it was convening its National Command Authority, the institution which can authorize a nuclear strike.

The two states, which have retained an adversarial relationship since their founding in 1947, between them deploy nuclear warheads that can be delivered by land, air and sea.

However, those weapons are inferior in number and yield to the thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by Russia and the United States, which include megaton-class weapons that can wipe out a metropolis in a single blast.

Some commenters have callously suggested that means a “limited regional nuclear war” would remain an Indian and Pakistani problem. People find it difficult to assess the risk of rare but catastrophic events; after all, a full-scale nuclear war has never occurred before, though it has come close to happening.

Such assessments are not only shockingly callous but shortsighted. In fact, several studies have modeled the global impact of a “limited” ten-day nuclear war in which India and Pakistan each exchange fifty 15-kiloton nuclear bombs equivalent in yield to the Little Boy uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Their findings concluded that spillover would in no way be “limited,” directly impacting people across the globe that would struggle to locate Kashmir on a map.

And those results are merely a conservative baseline, as India and Pakistan are estimated to possess over 260 warheads. Some likely have yields exceeding 15-kilotons, which is relatively small compared to modern strategic warheads.

Casualties

Recurring terrorist attacks by Pakistan-sponsored militant groups over the status of India’s Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir state have repeatedly led to threats of a conventional military retaliation by New Delhi.

Pakistan, in turn, maintains it may use nuclear weapons as a first-strike weapon to counter-balance India’s superior conventional forces. Triggers could involve the destruction of a large part of Pakistan’s military or penetration by Indian forces deep into Pakistani territory. Islamabad also claims it might authorize a strike in event of a damaging Indian blockade or political destabilization instigated by India.

India’s official policy is that it will never be first to strike with nuclear weapons—but that once any nukes are used against it, New Dehli will unleash an all-out retaliation.

The Little Boy bomb alone killed around 100,000 Japanese—between 30 to 40 percent of Hiroshima’s population—and destroyed 69 percent of the buildings in the city. But Pakistan and India host some of the most populous and densely populated cities on the planet, with population densities of Calcutta, Karachi and Mumbai at or exceeding 65,000 people per square mile. Thus, even low-yield bombs could cause tremendous casualties.

A 2014 study estimates that the immediate effects of the bombs—the fireball, over-pressure wave, radiation burns etc.—would kill twenty million people. An earlier study estimated a hundred 15-kiloton nuclear detonations could kill twenty-six million in India and eighteen million in Pakistan—and concluded that escalating to using 100-kiloton warheads, which have greater blast radius and overpressure waves that can shatter hardened structures, would multiply death tolls four-fold.

Moreover, these projected body counts omit the secondary effects of nuclear blasts. Many survivors of the initial explosion would suffer slow, lingering deaths due to radiation exposure. The collapse of healthcare, transport, sanitation, water and economic infrastructure would also claim many more lives. A nuclear blast could also trigger a deadly firestorm. For instance, a firestorm caused by the U.S. napalm bombing of Tokyo in March 1945 killed more people than the Fat Man bomb killed in Nagasaki.

Refugee Outflows

The civil war in Syria caused over 5.6 million refugees to flee abroad out of a population of 22 million prior to the conflict. Despite relative stability and prosperity of the European nations to which refugees fled, this outflow triggered political backlashes that have rocked virtually every major Western government.

Now consider likely population movements in event of a nuclear war between India-Pakistan, which together total over 1.5 billion people. Nuclear bombings—or their even their mere potential—would likely cause many city-dwellers to flee to the countryside to lower their odds of being caught in a nuclear strike. Wealthier citizens, numbering in tens of millions, would use their resources to flee abroad.

Should bombs beginning dropping, poorer citizens many begin pouring over land borders such as those with Afghanistan and Iran for Pakistan, and Nepal and Bangladesh for India. These poor states would struggle to supports tens of millions of refugees. China also borders India and Pakistan—but historically Beijing has not welcomed refugees.

Some citizens may undertake risky voyages at sea on overloaded boats, setting their sights on South East Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Thousands would surely drown. Many regional governments would turn them back, as they have refugees of conflicts in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar in the past.

Fallout

Radioactive fallout would also be disseminated across the globe. The fallout from the Chernobyl explosion, for example, wounds its way westward from Ukraine into Western Europe, exposing 650,000 persons and contaminating 77,000 square miles. The long-term health effects of the exposure could last decades. India and Pakistan’s neighbors would be especially exposed, and most lack healthcare and infrastructure to deal with such a crisis.

Nuclear Winter

Studies in 2008 and 2014 found that of one hundred bombs that were fifteen-kilotons were used, it would blast five million tons of fine, sooty particles into the stratosphere, where they would spread across the globe, warping global weather patterns for the next twenty-five years.

The particles would block out light from the sun, causing surface temperatures to decrease an average of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit across the globe, or 4.5 degrees in North American and Europe. Growing seasons would be shortened by ten to forty days, and certain crops such as Canadian wheat would simply become unviable. Global agricultural yields would fall, leading to rising prices and famine.

The particles may also deplete between 30 to 50 percent of the ozone layer, allowing more of the sun’s radiation to penetrate the atmosphere, causing increased sunburns and rates of cancer and killing off sensitive plant-life and marine plankton, with the spillover effect of decimating fishing yields.

To be clear, these are outcomes for a “light” nuclear winter scenario, not a full slugging match between the Russian and U.S. arsenals.

Global Recession

Any one of the factors above would likely suffice to cause a global economic recession. All of them combined would guarantee one.

India and Pakistan account for over one-fifth world’s population, and therefore a significant share of economic activity. Should their major cities become irradiated ruins with their populations decimated, a tremendous disruption would surely result. A massive decrease in consumption and production would obviously instigate a long-lasting recessionary cycle, with attendant deprivations and political destabilization slamming developed and less-developed countries alike.

Taken together, these outcomes mean even a “limited” India-Pakistan nuclear war would significantly affect every person on the globe, be they a school teacher in Nebraska, a factory-worker in Shaanxi province or a fisherman in Mombasa.

Unfortunately, the recent escalation between India and Pakistan is no fluke, but part of a long-simmering pattern likely to continue escalating unless New Delhi and Islamabad work together to change the nature of their relationship.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Image: Reuters.

South Asia’s Overlooked Nuclear Crisis (Revelation 8)

South Asia’s Overlooked Nuclear Crisis

While few were watching, India and Pakistan may have just narrowly avoided a nuclear confrontation.

By Dilip Hiro Yesterday 2:32 pm

Newly raised soldiers participate in a commencement parade at a military base on the outskirts of Srinagar, in India-controlled Kashmir. (AP Photo / Dar Yasin)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

It’s still the most dangerous border on Earth. Yet compared to the recent tweets of President Donald Trump, it remains a marginal news story. That doesn’t for a moment diminish the chance that the globe’s first (and possibly ultimate) nuclear conflagration could break out along that 480-mile border known as the Line of Control (and, given the history that surrounds it, that phrase should indeed be capitalized). The casus belli would undoubtedly be the more than seven-decades-old clash between India and Pakistan over the contested territory of Kashmir. Like a volcano, this unresolved dispute rumbles periodically—as it did only weeks ago—threatening to spew its white-hot lava to devastating effect not just in the region but potentially globally as well.

The trigger for renewed rumbling is always a sensational terrorist attack by a Pakistani militant group on an Indian target. That propels India’s leadership to a moral high ground. From there, bitter condemnations of Pakistan are coupled with the promise of airstrikes on the training camps of the culprit terrorist organizations operating from the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. As a result, the already simmering relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors are quickly raised to a boiling point. This, in turn, prompts the United States to intervene and pressure Pakistan to shut down those violent jihadist groups. To placate Washington, the Pakistani government goes through the ritual of issuing banning orders on those groups, but in practice, any change is minimal.

And in the background always lurks the possibility that a war between the two neighbors could lead to a devastating nuclear exchange. Which means that it’s time to examine how and why, by arraying hundreds of thousands of troops along that Line of Control, India and Pakistan have created the most perilous place on Earth.

How It All Began

The Kashmir dispute began with the birth of the kicking twins—Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan—as independent countries. They emerged from the belly of the dying British Raj in August 1947. The princely states in British India were given the option of joining either of the new nations. The dithering Hindu ruler of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir (its full title) finally signed a legally binding instrument of accession with New Delhi after his realm was invaded by armed tribal raiders from Pakistan. This document offered that state’s citizens the chance to choose between the two countries once peace had been restored. This has not happened so far and there is no credible prospect that it will.

After the 1947–48 Indo-Pakistani War that followed independence, India was left in control of almost two-thirds of the princely state (18 percent of which it lost to China in the Sino-Indian War of 1962). Crucially, the 45 percent of the former princely state that remained in its hands included the Vale of Kashmir. Guarded by snow-capped mountain peaks, covered with verdant forests of fir and pine, carpeted by wild flowers in the spring, and irrigated by the Jhelum River, it has been described by poets and others as “paradise on Earth.” Its population of seven million is 96 percent Muslim. And it is this territory that is coveted by Pakistan.

In 1989, having secured the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan after a 10-year struggle, some of the Afghan Mujahedin (“Holy Warriors”), including Pakistani militants, turned their attention to liberating Indian-controlled Kashmir. In this, they had the active backing of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, of Pakistan’s army. Earlier, the ISI had acted as the conduit for channeling US and Saudi-supplied weapons and cash to the Mujahedin coalition.

At that time, the two Pakistani groups in the Mujahedin coalition, which always harbored an anti-Indian agenda, emerged front and center. They were the Jaish-e Mohammad (Army of Mohammad) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous), led respectively by Masoud Azhar and Hafiz Saeed. Working with those Kashmiris who wanted their state to secede from India, they soon began to resort to terrorist acts.

The Indian government responded with draconian measures. In July 1990, it passed the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, or AFJKSP, a law that authorized the state government to declare any part of Jammu and Kashmir a “disturbed area,” where the Indian army would be free to shoot anyone acting in contravention of “any law” or in possession of a deadly weapon. Indian forces could now arrest people suspected of committing any offense without a warrant or enter and search any premises to make such arrests. In other words, from then on, the armed forces had carte blanche legal immunity to do whatever they wished without the slightest accountability.

Yet resistance to Indian rule did not subside. In fact, the slogan “Azadi” (Freedom) caught on, emboldening both terror groups to jointly launch an audacious attack on the Indian Parliament building on December 20, 2001, with the aim of taking lawmakers hostage. (They were bravely blocked by armed guards.) In the crisis that followed, the mobilized armies of the two neighbors, each already a declared nuclear power, faced off across their international border and the Line of Control in Kashmir. Pressured by Washington, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf banned the two terror organizations in January 2002. Yet both of them soon resurfaced under different names.

In June 2002, at a regional conference in the Kazakh city of Almaty, Musharraf assailed then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for ignoring the wishes of the Kashmiri people. “The possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances,” he stated grimly, refusing to commit his country (as India had) to a “no first use” policy on nuclear arms. Vajpayee accused him of “nuclear blackmail.” At home, however, Musharraf’s hardline stance was applauded by the militant groups.

Over the years, the crisis only deepened. In November 2008, for instance, working with the ISI, the operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked Mumbai’s landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and two other inns. After a 60-hour siege, 166 people, including 28 foreigners, were dead. Despite initial denials, Pakistan would finally acknowledge that the Mumbai conspiracy was, in part, hatched on its soil, and place Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Saeed under house arrest. But no charges would be leveled against him and he would, in the end, be released.

After the Mumbai carnage, Jaish-e Mohammad’s chief, Azhar, kept a low profile for several years, only to reappear publicly in 2014, issuing fiery calls for more attacks on India (and the United States as well). In September 2016, his fighters stormed an army camp in Uri, an Indian garrison town near the Line of Control, killing 19 soldiers.

With the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, under Narendra Modi gaining power in New Delhi in 2014, repression of the Muslim separatist movement in Kashmir only intensified. Within three years, the number of security personnel—army troops, paramilitaries, border guards, federal armed policemen, state policemen, and intelligence agents—had reached 470,000 in Jammu and Kashmir, which had a population of only 14.1 million. As a result, the proportion of local Kashmiris among anti-Indian fighters only rose.

A Sensational Terrorist Attack

This February 14, a 19-year-old suicide bomber, Adil Ahmad Dar, drove a car bomb into an Indian convoy heading for Kashmir’s capital city, Srinagar. At least 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed—the worst such attack in the troubled history of the state. Jaish-e Mohammad proudly claimed responsibility.

After dropping out of his village school, Dar had gone to work in a neighbor’s sawmill. During a four-month-long protest sparked by the killing of a popular 22-year-old local militant leader, Burhan Wani, in July 2016, Indian troops gunned down nearly 100 protesters, while injuring 15,000, including Dar. In response, he crossed the Line of Control and joined Jaish-e Mohammad. In the wake of his suicide attack, Indian soldiers raided the home of his parents, locked them inside, and set it on fire. And so it continues in the officially “disturbed” Kashmir.

In response to the deaths of the soldiers (and keenly aware of an upcoming nationwide election), Prime Minister Modi exploited the situation for political ends. He turned popular grief into an emotive and prolonged commemoration of those military deaths. TV networks focused on the flag-draped coffins of the slain troops, while local BJP candidates followed their hearses. The cremations were telecast live, while Modi proclaimed that “the security forces have been given complete freedom. The blood of the people is boiling.”

On February 26, temporarily released from civilian control, the Indian military launched a “pre-emptive” air strike on an alleged Jaish-e Mohammad training camp near Balakot, six miles inside Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The last time the air forces of either country had crossed the international border was during their 1971 war.

India claimed to have killed more than 300 militants, but Islamabad reported that the Indian bombs had actually hit a totally deserted site. (This would be confirmed later by satellite analysis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which concludedMorning that no damage had been done to the hilltop facility India claimed to have struck.) The next day Pakistan announced that, in a dogfight between warplanes of the two countries, an Indian fighter jet had been shot down and its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, captured.

India angrily demanded that he be set free immediately. On February 28, while announcing the pilot’s release during a televised address, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against miscalculation and the explosive potential for such aerial skirmishes to escalate into a wider conflict in the most dangerous environment on the planet. He said, “With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we afford miscalculation? Shouldn’t we think that, if this escalates, what will it lead to?”

This was a barely disguised reference to the devastating nuclear arsenals that the two South Asian neighbors now possess, with 135 nukes in New Delhi’s possession and 145 in Islamabad’s. Those arsenals are more than capable of causing havoc far beyond South Asia. It’s estimated that even a “moderate” Indo-Pakistani nuclear conflict could create a global “nuclear winter,” killing directly or indirectly up to a billion people as crops failed and starvation stalked the Earth.

Those Nuclear Arsenals

Pakistan’s arsenal now includes tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) with “low” explosive power for battlefield use. In 2011, it tested its first one successfully. Since then, according to Professor Rajesh Rajagopalan, author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan is believed to have assembled four or five of these annually. They are to be fired from the Nasr, a short-range missile. Two successful tests of it were conducted this January.

Islamabad began producing and deploying TNWs after India adopted a “Cold Start” military contingency plan to punish unacceptable Pakistani provocations like mass-casualty terror strikes. After repeated denials, in early 2017, India’s army chief finally acknowledged the existence of the plan, involving the creation of eight division-size integrated battle groups (IBGs). Each is to consist of infantry, artillery, armor, and air support and is to be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In response to major terrorist attacks from Pakistan or by Pakistani-based groups, the IBGs are to rapidly penetrate that country at unexpected locations and advance up to 30 miles beyond the border, disrupting command-and-control networks while trying to avoid locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation. In other words, the goal is to be able to launch an overwhelming conventional strike swiftly but in a limited fashion in order to ward off a Pakistani nuclear response. Overall, India’s contingency plan assumes unrealistically that, in the heat of the battle, leaders on both sides will remain calm and rational.

Responding to Islamabad’s production of theater nuclear weapons, New Delhi initiated a super-secret nuclear program revealed only in December 2015, thanks to an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity. A top-secret, government-run, $100 million rare materials plant near the city of Mysore in southern India now houses a nuclear enrichment complex that has been operating since 2012. It feeds the country’s nuclear weapons program and, far more ominously, has laid the foundation for an ambitious Indian hydrogen bomb project.

To consternation in world capitals, it was also revealed that this plant has a larger twin 160 miles north of Mysore in southern India that goes by the innocuous name of the Aeronautical Test Range. Conceived in March 2007 by the defense ministry, its construction started in 2012 on nearly 13 square miles of land. It is to become the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities after its completion in 2020. Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors, and to help power its fleet of new nuclear submarines. This nuclear city is to be protected by a ring of military garrisons, turning the site into a virtual military facility, which also means that it will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Its overarching aim is to give the country an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used to create hydrogen bombs and so further enhance the power of India’s already devastating nuclear arsenal.

Both of these projects are directed by the office of the prime minister. India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act have placed everything linked to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to find out more about these activities were bludgeoned into silence.

According to Gary Samore, an Obama-era White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.” Once manufactured, however, nothing would block India from deploying them against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” commented Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy. “It is not interested in [producing] nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, while India has long been in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan, it is no longer sticking to the same race course. In late March, Modi announced that India recently launched a rocket successfully shooting down one of its satellites. This creates the possibility that, in a future nuclear war with Pakistan, it could preemptively “blind” the Pakistanis by destroying their space-based communication and surveillance satellites. A race of another kind could be in the offing.

The central motive that drove Pakistan to develop its nuclear arsenal, however, remains unchanged. It was the only way Islamabad could deter New Delhi from defeating it in a war waged with conventional weapons. India’s 2.14 million-strong military, equipped with 5,967 artillery pieces, 4,500 tanks, and 2,216 aircraft, is significantly larger and better armed than Pakistan’s 1.55 million soldiers, 3,745 artillery, 2,700 tanks, and 1,143 aircraft. In addition, New Delhi’s annual defense budget of $55.9 billion is more than five times Islamabad’s $10.8 billion.

Little wonder that, in his February 28 televised address, while announcing the Indian pilot’s release, Prime Minister Khan suggested that the two sides “should sit down and resolve our problems through dialogue.” He claimed that his own political party, Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (the Pakistan Movement for Justice), and the country’s powerful military were “all on one page” in wishing to mend fences with India.

Pakistan’s Belated Suppression of Violent Jihadists

In late February, India handed over to Pakistan a dossier with information on Jaish-e Mohammad, its top leadership, and their involvement in several terror attacks. Islamabad initially said that the dossier was being “examined.” However, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi added that his government could act against Masoud Azhar only if New Delhi provided “solid, inalienable evidence” strong enough to convince the country’s judiciary.

And yet on March 8, the Pakistani government acted, launching a crackdown on leading terrorist groups. Among other things, it outlawed the Jamaat-ud Dawa (Society of the Islamic Call), or JuD, a welfare organization that raised funds for Lashkar-e-Taiba. It sealed the banned organization’s headquarters in Lahore as well as more than 200 schools, seminaries, and hospitals it ran. It also banned its chief, Hafiz Saeed, from leading Friday prayers on the sprawling JuD complex and kept him under surveillance.

One key factor that spurred such action was a warning the Pakistani government received on February 22 from the Paris-based intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It threatened to add Pakistan to its blacklist of non-cooperating countries if, by May, it failed to take specific steps against the financing of terrorism. To be added to the FATF blacklist could mean being sanctioned by most Western nations, a development only likely to deepen Islamabad’s current financial crisis. (Recently, it has had barely enough foreign reserves to pay for two months of imports or service a huge loan it secured from the International Monetary Fund in 2013.)

In January 2018, President Donald Trump had already canceled plans for Washington to give Pakistan $1.3 billion in military aid and had imposed sanctions on the country for its support of terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban. On Twitter, he accused Pakistan of “providing nothing but lies and deceit.” Soon after, the FATF placed Pakistan on its “gray list.”

Still, none of that proved sufficient to compel Pakistan’s powerful military high command to cede its traditional monopoly on national security and foreign policy decision-making, including its covert backing of anti-Indian extremist groups through the ISI. Only when pressure continued to build, bolstered by fresh urging from Washington, London, and Paris, was a critical mass reached that made those generals finally fall in line with recently elected Prime Minister Khan’s more conciliatory stance toward India.

Now, the international community can only hope that the carnage and chaos of February was the last in a tragic series of encounters between nuclear neighbors that could otherwise lead South Asia to devastation and the world to nuclear winter.

Again, on the Brink of Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

THE INDIAN Army has killed “two dozen” Pakistani soldiers and civilians as the two nuclear nations teeter on the brink of a devastating war – despite a ceasefire being called weeks ago.

 

India Pakistan: Crossfire breaks out in Poonch district

The two neighbouring countries, which have a combined population of more than 1.5 billion, have been involved in tit-for-tat attacks even after February’s ceasefire.

Pakistan confirmed it had suffered casualties along its border and reprimanded the Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad.

A ceasefire, which has been place since February, is in danger of collapsing due both sides attacking each other.

In a strongly worded statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office accused its neighbour of committing war crimes.

The statement said: “Indian troops intentionally targeted innocent civilians travelling in a civil bus in Bagsar Sector.

“This is not only in clear violation of existing arrangement but also unethical and immoral.

“The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary are continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons.

 

India Pakistan

The Indian Air Force has bombed Kashmir this year (Image: Getty)

 

“This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations.

“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws.

“The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.”

Pakistan Military Sources also estimated dozens of people have been killed or injured in the latest border problems.

 

However, the Indian Army accused Pakistan of sending Border Action Teams into its territory and refused to stop their attacks.

Indian military sources told The Print the military would continue to use artillery to attack Pakistan’s border towns if violations around the Line of Control continued.

Pakistan was censured by Facebook earlier this week when Facebook and Twitter announcing the removal of sites due to the amount of anti-Indian propaganda being spewed from them.

The dispute between India and Pakistan has spanned decades and centres around disputes over Kashmir and border arguments.

A Planet in Nuclear Peril (Revelation 8)

India, Pakistan, and a Planet in Peril

South Asia’s nuclear-armed neighbors pull back from the abyss…barely

Dilip Hiro

It’s still the most dangerous border on Earth. Yet compared to the recent tweets of President Donald Trump, it remains a marginal news story.  That doesn’t for a moment diminish the chance that the globe’s first (and possibly ultimate) nuclear conflagration could break out along that 480-mile border known as the Line of Control (and, given the history that surrounds it, that phrase should indeed be capitalized). The casus belli would undoubtedly be the more than seven-decades-old clash between India and Pakistan over the contested territory of Kashmir. Like a volcano, this unresolved dispute rumbles periodically — as it did only weeks ago — threatening to spew its white-hot lava to devastating effect not just in the region but potentially globally as well.

The trigger for renewed rumbling is always a sensational terrorist attack by a Pakistani militant group on an Indian target. That propels the India’s leadership to a moral high ground. From there, bitter condemnations of Pakistan are coupled with the promise of airstrikes on the training camps of the culprit terrorist organizations operating from the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir.  As a result, the already simmering relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors are quickly raised to a boiling point. This, in turn, prompts the United States to intervene and pressure Pakistan to shut down those violent jihadist groups. To placate Washington, the Pakistani government goes through the ritual of issuing banning orders on those groups, but in practice, any change is minimal.

And in the background always lurks the possibility that a war between the two neighbors could lead to a devastating nuclear exchange.  Which means that it’s time to examine how and why, by arraying hundreds of thousands of troops along that Line of Control, India and Pakistan have created the most perilous place on Earth.

How It All Began

The Kashmir dispute began with the birth of the kicking twins — Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan — as independent countries.  They emerged from the belly of the dying British Raj in August 1947.  The princely states in British India were given the option of joining either of the new nations. The dithering Hindu ruler of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir (its full title) finally signed a legally binding instrument of accession with New Delhi after his realm was invaded by armed tribal raiders from Pakistan. This document offered that state’s citizens the chance to choose between the two countries once peace had been restored. This has not happened so far and there is no credible prospect that it will.

After the 1947-1948 Indo-Pakistani War that followed independence, India was left in control of almost two-thirds of the princely state (18% of which it lost to China in the Sino-Indian War of 1962). Crucially, the 45% of the former princely state that remained in its hands included the Vale of Kashmir. Guarded by snow-capped mountain peaks, covered with verdant forests of fir and pine, carpeted by wild flowers in the spring, and irrigated by the Jhelum River, it has been described by poets and others as “paradise on Earth.” Its population of seven million is 96% Muslim. And it is this territory that is coveted by Pakistan.

In 1989, having secured the withdrawal of the Soviet army from Afghanistan after a 10-year struggle, some of the Afghan Mujahedin (“Holy Warriors”), including Pakistani militants, turned their attention to liberating Indian-controlled Kashmir.  In this, they had the active backing of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, of Pakistan’s army. Earlier, the ISI had acted as the conduit for channeling U.S. and Saudi-supplied weapons and cash to the Mujahedin coalition.

At that time, the two Pakistani groups in the Mujahedin coalition, which always harbored an anti-Indian agenda, emerged front and center. They were the Jaish-e Mohammad (Army of Mohammad) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous), led respectively by Masoud Azhar and Hafiz Saeed. Working with those Kashmiris who wanted their state to secede from India, they soon began to resort to terrorist acts.

The Indian government responded with draconian measures. In July 1990, it passed the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, or AFJKSP, a law that authorized the state government to declare any part of Jammu and Kashmir a “disturbed area,” where the Indian army would be free to shoot anyone acting in contravention of “any law” or in possession of a deadly weapon.  Indian forces could now arrest people suspected of committing any offense without a warrant or enter and search any premises to make such arrests. In other words, from then on, the armed forces had carte blanche legal immunity to do whatever they wished without the slightest accountability.

Yet resistance to Indian rule did not subside. In fact, the slogan “Azadi” (Freedom) caught on, emboldening both terror groups to jointly launch an audacious attack on the Indian Parliament building on December 20, 2001, with the aim of taking lawmakers hostage.  (They were bravely blocked by armed guards.)  In the crisis that followed, the mobilized armies of the two neighbors, each already a declared nuclear power, faced off across their international border and the Line of Control in Kashmir. Pressured by Washington, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf banned the two terror organizations in January 2002.  Yet both of them soon resurfaced under different names.

In June 2002, at a regional conference in the Kazakh city of Almaty, Musharraf assailed then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for ignoring the wishes of the Kashmiri people. „The possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances,“ he stated grimly, refusing to commit his country (as India had) to a „no first use“ policy on nuclear arms. Vajpayee accused him of „nuclear blackmail.“  At home, however, Musharraf’s hardline stance was applauded by the militant groups

Over the years, the crisis only deepened.  In November 2008, for instance, working with the ISI, the operatives of Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked Mumbai’s landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and two other inns. After a 60-hour siege, 166 people, including 28 foreigners, were dead.  Despite initial denials, Pakistan would finally acknowledge that the Mumbai conspiracy was, in part, hatched on its soil, and place Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Saeed under house arrest.  But no charges would be leveled against him and he would, in the end, be released.

After the Mumbai carnage, Jaish-e Mohammad’s chief, Azhar, kept a low profile for several years, only to reappear publicly in 2014, issuing fiery calls for more attacks on India (and the United States as well). In September 2016, his fighters stormed an army camp in Uri, an Indian garrison town near the Line of Control, killing 19 soldiers.

With the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, under Narendra Modi gaining power in New Delhi in 2014, repression of the Muslim separatist movement in Kashmir only intensified.  Within three years, the number of security personnel — army troops, paramilitaries, border guards, federal armed policemen, state policemen, and intelligence agents — had reached 470,000 in Jammu and Kashmir, which had a population of only 14.1 million.  As a result, the proportion of local Kashmiris among anti-Indian fighters only rose.

A Sensational Terrorist Attack

This February 14th, a 19-year-old suicide bomber, Adil Ahmad Dar, drove a car bomb into an Indian convoy heading for Kashmir’s capital city, Srinagar. At least 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed — the worst such attack in the troubled history of the state.  Jaish-e Mohammad proudly claimed responsibility.

After dropping out of his village school, Dar had gone to work in a neighbor’s sawmill. During a four-month-long protest sparked by the killing of a popular 22-year-old local militant leader, Burhan Wani, in July 2016, Indian troops gunned down nearly 100 protestors, while injuring 15,000, including Dar. In response, he crossed the Line of Control and joined Jaish-e Mohammad. In the wake of his suicide attack, Indian soldiers raided the home of his parents, locked them inside, and set it on fire. And so it continues in the officially “disturbed” Kashmir.

In response to the deaths of the soldiers (and keenly aware of an upcoming nationwide election), Prime Minister Modi exploited the situation for political ends. He turned popular grief into an emotive and prolonged commemoration of those military deaths. TV networks focused on the flag-draped coffins of the slain troops, while local BJP candidates followed their hearses. The cremations were telecast live, while Modi proclaimed that “the security forces have been given complete freedom.  The blood of the people is boiling.”

On February 26th, temporarily released from civilian control, the Indian military launched a “pre-emptive” air strike on an alleged Jaish-e Mohammad training camp near Balakot, six miles inside Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.  The last time the air forces of either country had crossed the international border was during their 1971 war.

India claimed to have killed more than 300 militants, but Islamabad reported that the Indian bombs had actually hit a totally deserted site. (This would be confirmed later by satellite analysis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which concluded that no damage had been done to the hilltop facility India claimed to have struck.) The next day Pakistan announced that, in a dogfight between warplanes of the two countries, an Indian fighter jet had been shot down and its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, captured.

India angrily demanded that he be set free immediately. On February 28th, while announcing the pilot’s release during a televised address, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against miscalculation and the explosive potential for such aerial skirmishes to escalate into a wider conflict in the most dangerous environment on the planet.  He said, “With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we afford miscalculation? Shouldn’t we think that, if this escalates, what will it lead to?”

This was a barely disguised reference to the devastating nuclear arsenals that the two South Asian neighbors now possess, with 135 nukes in New Delhi’s possession and 145 in Islamabad’s.  Those arsenals are more than capable of causing havoc far beyond South Asia.  It’s estimated that even a “moderate” Indo-Pakistani nuclear conflict could create a global “nuclear winter,” killing directly or indirectly up to a billion people as crops failed and starvation stalked the Earth.

Those Nuclear Arsenals

Pakistan’s arsenal now includes tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) with “low” explosive power for battlefield use. In 2011, it tested its first one successfully. Since then, according to Professor Rajesh Rajagopalan, author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan is believed to have assembled four or five of these annually. They are to be fired from the Nasr, a short-range missile. Two successful tests of it were conducted this January.

Islamabad began producing and deploying TNWs after India adopted a “Cold Start” military contingency plan to punish unacceptable Pakistani provocations like mass-casualty terror strikes.  After repeated denials, in early 2017, India’s army chief finally acknowledged the existence of the plan, involving the creation of eight division-size integrated battle groups (IBGs).  Each is to consist of infantry, artillery, armor, and air support and is to be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In response to major terrorist attacks from Pakistan or by Pakistani-based groups, the IBGs are to rapidly penetrate that country at unexpected locations and advance up to 30 miles beyond the border, disrupting command-and-control networks while trying to avoid locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation. In other words, the goal is to be able to launch an overwhelming conventional strike swiftly but in a limited fashion in order to ward off a Pakistani nuclear response.  Overall, India’s contingency plan assumes unrealistically that, in the heat of the battle, leaders on both sides will remain calm and rational.

Responding to Islamabad’s production of theater nuclear weapons, New Delhi initiated a super-secret nuclear program revealed only in December 2015, thanks to an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.  A top-secret, government-run, $100 million rare materials plant near the city of Mysore in southern India now houses a nuclear enrichment complex that has been operating since 2012.  It feeds the country’s nuclear weapons program and, far more ominously, has laid the foundation for an ambitious Indian hydrogen bomb project.

To consternation in world capitals, it was also revealed that this plant has a larger twin 160 miles north of Mysore in southern India that goes by the innocuous name of the Aeronautical Test Range. Conceived in March 2007 by the defense ministry, its construction started in 2012 on nearly 13 square miles of land. It is to become the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities after its completion in 2020. Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors, and to help power its fleet of new nuclear submarines. This nuclear city is to be protected by a ring of military garrisons, turning the site into a virtual military facility, which also means that it will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Its overarching aim is to give the country an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used to create hydrogen bombs and so further enhance the power of India’s already devastating nuclear arsenal.

Both of these projects are directed by the office of the prime minister.  India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act have placed everything linked to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to find out more about these activities were bludgeoned into silence.

According to Gary Samore, an Obama-era White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.” Once manufactured, however, nothing would block India from deploying them against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” commented Pakistani nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy. “It is not interested in [producing] nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, while India has long been in a nuclear arms race with Pakistan, it is no longer sticking to the same race course.  In late March, Modi announced that India recently launched a rocket successfully shooting down one of its satellites. This creates the possibility that, in a future nuclear war with Pakistan, it could preemptively “blind” the Pakistanis by destroying their space-based communication and surveillance satellites.  A race of another kind could be in the offing.

The central motive that drove Pakistan to develop its nuclear arsenal, however, remains unchanged. It was the only way Islamabad could deter New Delhi from defeating it in a war waged with conventional weapons. India’s 2.14 million-strong military, equipped with 5,967 artillery pieces, 4,500 tanks, and 2,216 aircraft, is significantly larger and better armed than Pakistan’s 1.55 million soldiers, 3,745 artillery, 2,700 tanks, and 1,143 aircraft. In addition, New Delhi’s annual defense budget of $55.9 billion is more than five times Islamabad’s $10.8 billion.

Little wonder that, in his February 28th televised address, while announcing the Indian pilot’s release, Prime Minister Khan suggested that the two sides “should sit down and resolve our problems through dialogue.” He claimed that his own political party, Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (the Pakistan Movement for Justice), and the country’s powerful military were “all on one page” in wishing to mend fences with India.

Pakistan’s Belated Suppression of Violent Jihadists

In late February, India handed over to Pakistan a dossier with information on Jaish-e Mohammad, its top leadership, and their involvement in several terror attacks. Islamabad initially said that the dossier was being “examined.” However, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi added that his government could act against Masoud Azhar only if New Delhi provided “solid, inalienable evidence” strong enough to convince the country’s judiciary.

And yet on March 8th, the Pakistani government acted, launching a crackdown on leading terrorist groups.  Among other things, it outlawed the Jamaat-ud Dawa (Society of the Islamic Call), or JuD, a welfare organization that raised funds for Lashkar-e-Taiba. It sealed the banned organization’s headquarters in Lahore as well as more than 200 schools, seminaries, and hospitals it ran. It also banned its chief, Hafiz Saeed, from leading Friday prayers on the sprawling JuD complex and kept him under surveillance.

One key factor that spurred such action was a warning the Pakistani government received on February 22nd from the Paris-based intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It threatened to add Pakistan to its blacklist of non-cooperating countries if, by May, it failed to take specific steps against the financing of terrorism. To be added to the FATF blacklist could mean being sanctioned by most Western nations, a development only likely to deepen Islamabad’s current financial crisis. (Recently, it has had barely enough foreign reserves to pay for two months of imports or service a huge loan it secured from the International Monetary Fund in 2013.)

In January 2018, President Donald Trump had already cancelled plans for Washington to give Pakistan $1.3 billion in military aid and had imposed sanctions on the country for its support of terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban.  On Twitter, he accused Pakistan of “providing nothing but lies and deceit.” Soon after, the FATF placed Pakistan on its “gray list.”

Still, none of that proved sufficient to compel Pakistan’s powerful military high command to cede its traditional monopoly on national security and foreign policy decision-making, including its covert backing of anti-Indian extremist groups through the ISI.  Only when pressure continued to build, bolstered by fresh urging from Washington, London, and Paris, was a critical mass reached that made those generals finally fall in line with recently elected Prime Minister Khan’s more conciliatory stance toward India.

Now, the international community can only hope that the carnage and chaos of February was the last in a tragic series of encounters between nuclear neighbors that could otherwise lead South Asia to devastation and the world to nuclear winter.

Another Escalation Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

A civilian, who according to local media was injured in a cross-border shelling near the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Poonch sector, is rushed to a hospital in Jammu, Pakistan administered Kashmir, April 1, 2019. REUTERS

New Delhi — Seven people have been killed and 28 injured in two days of small arms fire and shelling between Indian and Pakistani forces. The renewed clashes have taken place along the de-facto border that divides the Kashmir region in half. Both of the nations claim rightful ownership of the entire area, and they’ve fought three wars over it already.

This week has seen the deadliest border escalation between the nuclear armed neighbors since they carried out airstrikes on each other’s territory near the end of February.

An intervention by the United States and other nations brought the two countries back from the brink of a possible full-scale war.

Four Pakistanis and three Indians have been killed in the cross-border clashes since Monday morning. On Tuesday, three Pakistani soldiers were killed by gunfire from Indian forces. A statement by the Pakistan military said they were killed in the Rawalakot area of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. A Pakistani civilian was also killed in shooting on Monday, and five civilians were injured.

On the Indian side, a 5-year-old girl, a woman, and a soldier of the Border Security Force (BSF) were killed on Monday. Eighteen other civilians and five soldiers were also injured.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Indian side on Tuesday, but the exchange of fire was continuing in at least six areas along the unofficial border dividing Kashmir, known as the Line of Control (LoC).

Government officials in one part of Indian Kashmir ordered all schools near the border to remain shut amid the violence.

A ceasefire has been in place since 2003 along the border, but both sides‘ militaries regularly exchange fire and then accuse the other side of „unprovoked ceasefire violations,“ usually followed by warnings of a „retaliatory response.“

The cross fire incidents have increased since the February airstrikes, claiming dozens of lives and displacing scores of people from the border areas on both sides.

The tension has escalated in recent weeks as India is just days away from a crucial national election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term.

National security issues have come to dominate the election campaign in a major shift from previous elections, in which political parties have generally focussed on development and employment issues.