Nuclear Nightmare: Why The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Is Cause For Concern

Nuclear Nightmare: Why Pakistan’s Nukes Are Cause For Concern

Here’s What You Need to Know: Experts believe the country’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing.

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.

Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.

The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.

Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January 2017 and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.

Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national-security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the DiplomatForeign PolicyWar is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009, he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.

This article first appeared in 2017.

I Image: Reuters

1971: The Year India Became a Nuclear Horn: Revelation 8

1971: The Year India Became a Force To Be Reckoned With

By National interest

Here’s What You Need to Remember: Perhaps more important, Pakistani illusions that an Islamic army could rout the “weak” Hindus had been disproved. This is what happens when you chop a nation in half.

Before December 3, 1971, Pakistan was a country suffering from a split personality disorder. When British India became independent in 1947, the country was divided into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. The problem was that East Pakistan and West Pakistan were almost a thousand miles apart, and wedged in between them was archenemy India. Imagine if the United States only consisted of the East Coast and West Coast, and Russia controlled all of North America in between.

Thirteen days later, Pakistan had been amputated. Indian troops had conquered East Pakistan, which became the new nation of Bangladesh. More than ninety thousand Pakistani soldiers were taken prisoner, half the Pakistani Navy had been sunk and the Indian Air Force came out on top. It was total humiliation, and not just for Pakistan. The United States and Britain sent aircraft carriers in a futile attempt to intimidate India, and ended up facing off against Soviet warships. Pakistan’s defeat also spurred its rulers to begin the development of nuclear weapons.

The 1971 India-Pakistan War, the third major conflict between the two nations in twenty-five years, was sparked by unrest in East Pakistan. The Bengalis of East Pakistan, who constituted 54 percent of Pakistan’s population at the time, chafed under the rule of West Pakistan. The two Pakistans belonged to different ethnic groups and spoke different languages.

The Asian nuclear horns continue to grow: Daniel 7

Asian countries stockpile powerful new missiles

Asia’s missile proliferation will fuel suspicions, trigger arms races, increase tensions and ultimately cause crises and even wars

  • By Josh Smith / Reuters, SEOUL

Asia is sliding into a dangerous arms race as smaller nations that once stayed on the sidelines build arsenals of advanced long-range missiles, following in the footsteps of powerhouses China and the US, analysts say.

China is mass producing its DF-26, a multipurpose weapon with a range of up to 4,000km — while the US is developing new weapons aimed at countering Beijing in the Pacific.

Other countries in the region are buying or developing their own new missiles, driven by security concerns over China and a desire to reduce their reliance on the US.

An Indigenous Defense Fighter fighter jet and Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles are seen last September at Makung Air Force Base in the offshore island of Penghu.

Before the decade is out, Asia will be bristling with conventional missiles that fly farther and faster, hit harder and are more sophisticated than ever before — a stark and dangerous change from recent years, analysts, diplomats and military officials say.

“The missile landscape is changing in Asia, and it’s changing fast,” said David Santoro, president of the Pacific Forum.

Such weapons are increasingly affordable and accurate, and as some countries acquire them, their neighbors don’t want to be left behind, analysts said. Missiles provide strategic benefits such as deterring enemies and boosting leverage with allies, and can be a lucrative export.

The Nuclear END of East Asia: Revelation 8

The Nuclear future of East Asia

July 18, 2021

In the face of North Korea’s and China’s continuous expansion in their nuclear arsenal in the past decade, the nuclear question for East Asian countries is now more urgent than ever —especially when the USA’s credibility of extended deterrence has been shrinking since the Cold War. Whether to acquire an independent nuclear deterrent has long been a huge controversy, with opinions polarized. Yet it is noteworthy that there is a gray zone between zero and one—the degree of latency nuclear deterrence.

It is suggested that developing nuclear weapons may not be the wise choice for East Asian countries at the moment, but, given that regional and international security in Asia-Pacific is deemed to curtail, regardless of decisions to go nuclear or not, East Asian nations should increase their latency nuclear deterrence. In other words, even if they do not proceed to the final stage of acquiring an independent nuclear deterrent, a latent capability should at least be guaranteed. Meanwhile, for those who have already possessed certain extent of nuclear latency —for instance, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan —to shorten their breakout time whilst minimizing obstacles for possible future nuclearization.

From a realist perspective, the locations of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have always been valid arguments for their nuclearization —being surrounded by nuclear-armed neighbours China and North Korea —and they have witnessed a threat escalation unprecedented since the Cold War.

Having its first nuclear weapon tested in 2006, the total inventory North Korea now possess is estimated to be 30-40. Not only has North Korea’s missile test on March 25— the first of the Biden presidency— signalled a clear message to the USA and her allies. Pyongyang’s advancement in nuclear technologies also indicates a surging threat.

North Korea state media claimed the latest missile launched was a “new-type tactical guided projectile” which is capable of performing “gliding and pull-up” manoeuvres with an “improved version of a solid fuel engine”. The diversity of launchers Pyongyang currently possesses —from short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), as well as the transporter erector launchers (TELs) and the cold launch system increase the difficulty in intercepting them via Aegis destroyers or other ballistic missile defense system since it is onerous, if not impossible, to detect the exact time and venue of the possible launches. Indeed, the “new type of missile” could potentially render South Korea’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) useless by evading radar detection system through its manoeuvres, according to one study.

Moreover, the cold launch (perpendicular launch) system used by the North also indicates that multiple nuclear weapons could be fired from the same launch pad without severe damage caused to the infrastructure. Shigeru Ishiba, Japan’s former Defense Minister, has noted that not all incoming missiles would have to be intercepted with the country’s missile defense system, and “even if that is possible, we cannot perfectly respond to saturation attacks”.

China’s total inventory of nuclear deterrent has reached 320, exceeding United Kingdom and France’s, with their nuclear deterrents considered limited deterrence. Though China’s current nuclear stockpiles are still far less than Russia’s and the USA’s, its nuclear technologies have been closely following theirs. For instance, China has successfully developed Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) and Maneuverable Reentry Vehicles (MARVs)—its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) DF-41 is capable of equipping up to 10 MIRVs while its Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) DF-21D could carry MARV warhead that poses challenges to the BMD systems— these advancement in nuclear technologies are solid proof that the Chinese nukes are only steps away from Moscow and Washington. Yet China’s nuclear arsenal remains unchecked and is not confined by any major nuclear arms reduction treaty.

If Japan, South Korea and Taiwan ever choose to go nuclear, a common mechanism could be established to ensure that these states would pursue a minimum to limited deterrence capability that does not endanger each other’s security but rather strengthens it, which would help minimizing the destabilization brought to regional security while constituting a more balanced situation with nuclear-armed rivalries.

In addition to China’s expansion of military capabilities and ambition in developing hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) and new MARVs, there is no lack of scepticism of its no-first use policy, especially with Beijing’s actions in the East and South China Seas. These all raise concerns and generate insecurity from neighbouring countries and hence, East Asian states Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would inevitably have to reconsider their nuclear options.

In spite of having advanced BMD system, for instance, Aegis Destroyer (Japan), THAAD (South Korea), Sky Bow III (Taiwan), the existing and emerging nuclear arsenals in Pyongyang and Beijing still leave East Asian states vulnerable. The future could be worse than it seems— merely having deterrence by denial is not sufficient to safeguard national security— particularly with the shrinking credibility of the USA’s extended deterrence after the Cold War.

Theoretically speaking, alliance relations with the USA assure a certain extent of deterrence by punishment against hostile adversaries. For example, the USA is committed to defend Japan under the 1960 Mutual Defense Treaty. Yet in reality, security could never be guaranteed. Sze-Fung LeeIs the USA willing to sacrifice Washington for Tokyo? Or New York for Seoul?

Strong rhetoric, or even a defense pact, would not ensure collective security, let alone strategic ambiguity, the strategy adopted by Washington for Taipei. Besides, with Trump’s American First policy continuously undermining alliance relations in the past four years, East Asian countries may find it hard to restore trust, despite the Biden Administration’s effort to repair the alliance.

Moreover, even if alliance relations and credibility of extended deterrence is robust, could East Asian countries shelter under the US nuclear umbrella forever? If they choose not to go nuclear, these states would be constantly threatened by their nuclear-armed neighbours and forced to negotiate, or worse, compromise in the face of a possible nuclear extortion.

Undeniably, horizontal nuclear proliferation is always risky. Not only is it likely to worsen diplomatic relations with neighbours, it also generates a (nuclear) regional arms race that eventually trap all nations into a vicious circle due to the lack of mutual trust in an anarchical system, which will consequently lead to a decrease in regional, as well as international, security.

Yet with the expansion and advancement of Pyongyang and Beijing’s nuclear arsenal, regional and international security is deemed to reduce, regardless of East Asian countries’ decisions to go nuclear or not. As official NPYT members, Japan’s and South Korea’s withdrawal may encourage other current non-nuclear weapon states to develop nukes. However, the NPT has already proven futile in preventing North Korea from acquiring its own nuclear weapons; or Israel, India and Pakistan from going nuclear.

Admittedly, the road for East Asian countries to go nuclear would be tough. Taipei’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons would trigger a response from Beijing, and a pre-emptive strike. That goes for Seoul and Pyongyang though the risk is relatively lower. As for Japan, although direct military confrontation is less likely compared to Seoul and Taipei, the challenges are no easier.

As the sole nation to suffer from an atomic bomb, Japan’s pacifism and anti-nuclear sentiment are embedded in it. According to a 2017 opinion poll, 17.7 percent agreed “Japan should acquire its own nuclear weapons in the future” whilst 79.1 percent opposed the idea. Despite having the imperative skills and technologies for an independent deterrent (its breakout time is estimated at 6-12 months), Japan lacks natural resources for nuclear warheads and would rely heavily on uranium imports. Japan’s bilateral nuclear agreements with the USA, U.K, France and Australia specified that all imported nuclear-related equipment and materials “must be used only for the non-military purposes”. Violation of these agreements may result in sanctions that could cause devastating effect on Japan’s nuclear energy programme, which supplies approximately 30 percent of the nation’s electricity. These issues, however, are not irresolvable.

Undeniably, it may take time and effort to negotiate new agreements and change people’s pacifism into an “active pacifism”, yet these should not be the justifications to avoid acquiring an independent deterrent, as ensuring national security should always be the top priority. It is because in face of a nuclear extortion, the effectiveness of a direct nuclear deterrence guaranteed by your own country could not be replaced by any other measures such as deterrence by denial via BMD system or deterrence by punishment via extended deterrence and defense pact.

Therefore, if there are too many obstacles ahead, then perhaps the wiser choice for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan at the moment is to increase their nuclear latency deterrence, shorten the breakout time and pave their way clear for future nuclearization. In other words, to keep their nuclear option open and be able to play offense and defense at their own will.

Nevertheless, in addition to strengthening latency nuclear deterrence, as well as obtaining a more equal relationship in the official and unofficial alliance with America, East Asian countries with similar interests and common enemies should unite to form a new military alliance with a security treaty regarding collective defense like NATO; and focuses more on countering hybrid warfare like the QUAD.

If Japan, South Korea and Taiwan ever choose to go nuclear, a common mechanism could be established to ensure that these states would pursue a minimum to limited deterrence capability that does not endanger each other’s security but rather strengthens it, which would help minimizing the destabilization brought to regional security while constituting a more balanced situation with nuclear-armed rivalries.

After all, proliferation may not be the best solution, it is certainly not the worst either.

America Has Lost the Proxy War against the Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Daniel

America Has Lost a Proxy War against Pakistan

When President Joe Biden declared the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after twenty years of fighting, he declared that the original objectives for the invasion had been achieved. “We were attacked, we went to war with clear goals,” he gravely intoned. “We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan, and it’s time to end this forever war.” Curiously, he omitted where exactly the founder of Al Qaeda had met his end.

The reaction was as swift as it was predictable. The New York Times, framing the debate along familiar terms, asked, “Will Afghanistan become a Terrorism Safe Haven Once Again?” The ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, warned Afghanistan would “become a safe haven for terrorists once again.” That there already exists “safe haven” for terrorists in and near the country was not mentioned.

Shortly after Biden’s announcement, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reportedly expressed “appreciation for Pakistan’s support” during peace negotiations in Afghanistan with the Taliban. It is not clear whether Secretary Austin had in mind the full breadth of Pakistan’s activities in Afghanistan when referring to its “support” for these ongoing and inconclusive diplomatic talks.

Carl von Clausewitz declared that “the first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish…the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, not trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature.” This most fundamental task of accurate conceptualization has also been the most overlooked and underrated in the formulation and implementation of U.S. military strategy.

As complex and confusing as the situation in Afghanistan is for foreign observers and visitors, the most fundamental lacuna in the analysis and strategy behind U.S. objectives in the country is a manifest failure to clearly acknowledge and accept the situation on the ground in Afghanistan for what it is: the United States has been waging and losing a proxy war against an alleged ally.

The mission to transform a barren, mountainous, landlocked, and impoverished country in one of the most remote parts of the Eurasian landmass—after decades of armed conflict and revolutionary upheaval—into a stable democracy with no safe havens for terrorism is tragic and difficult enough. It becomes indefensibly absurd when also claiming to do so in partnership with a country that bears the most responsibility for the continuing chaos and carnage in Afghanistan.

Axis or Ally?

Among all the moral compromises made by Washington in its diplomatic relationships during the War on Terror, the U.S. relationship with Islamabad might be the most destructive and counterproductive. Less than five months after the shock of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced the existence of an “Axis of Evil” that represented the greatest threat to world peace. Notably, none of the countries identified had any role in the attacks, nor had any of their citizens. What was stranger yet about the composition of this “axis” was that these countries, as hostile as their regimes were to U.S. interests, did not include the world’s worst offender. When examining what went wrong in the U.S. war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, it bears reviewing the central role Pakistan has played in sabotaging any prospects of victory.

It has long been an open secret that Pakistan has actively and consistently thwarted U.S. operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda since the attacks of September 11, 2001. For as long as the U.S. has been in Afghanistan, however, the polite fiction of Pakistan as a reliable ally has persisted despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As a state sponsor of terrorism, Pakistan has matched or exceeded the actions and patterns of sanctioned regimes in Iran and North Korea. The flagrant involvement of its so-called “deep state” in the finances and operations of known terrorist groups as a matter of course has also been far more direct and intimate than any of the suspected links attributed to the Gulf Arab states or their citizens. Yet in stark contrast to intense U.S. pressure on its Arab allies to crack down on terrorism, or U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea, Pakistan’s rulers have enjoyed relative impunity since 2001.

After the United States invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan gave shelter to elements of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Osama Bin Laden himself would take up residence in an elite suburb in close proximity to Pakistan’s military academy in Abbottabad. After Bin Laden was finally found and killed, Pakistani authorities retaliated against local informants cooperating with U.S. intelligence. In spite of the evidence, there would be no major changes to the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

The designation of Pakistan as a “major non-NATO ally” under President Bush was followed by the next administration proclaiming that an “effective partnership with Pakistan” would be a core element of the U.S. war against the Taliban. Pakistan’s ostensible efforts to confront its own proxies would be supported by generous aid from the United States. As the Pentagon pressured the White House to escalate the war, increasing numbers of U.S. troops and civilian officials were being sent into harm’s way and tasked with implementing near impossible projects of social transformation. At the same time, the United States sent aid to the country that directed efforts to arm and train the Taliban insurgency. The absurd implications of U.S. policy and strategy are such that it would be as if America had waged the Vietnam War while also sending aid to Hanoi.

After Donald Trump became U.S. president, there was only a temporary change to relations with Islamabad after military aid was put on hold. After Trump met with Imran Khan, the military-backed prime minister who has praised Osama bin Laden, the aid program was resumed. Despite a promised withdrawal, U.S. troops remained in Afghanistan and U.S. aid to Pakistan continued.

A Good War or a Dumb War?

It should come as no surprise then that U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan has not yielded a political resolution to a decades-long conflict or that it has failed to retain the support of the U.S. public. Before either Trump or Biden announced a withdrawal, the Taliban had conquered or contested so much territory that the U.S. military simply stopping reporting on it.

While there are other more local and nuanced factors that contributed to the U.S. failure to bring order and stability to Afghanistan, including supporting a system of government that has never amounted to much more than warlord rule beyond Kabul, it is Pakistan that looms as the largest. The Taliban is not simply an indigenous insurgency in Afghanistan, as has been suggested. So critical is the role of Pakistan in sheltering and supporting the group that one intelligence official’s repeated briefings to the Obama administration were summarized as asserting that “there was no way to defeat the Taliban militarily, to eradicate them, or force them to surrender, unless the United States was prepared to invade Pakistan, an unstable nuclear weapons state.”

As neither stability nor democracy in Afghanistan can survive the persistence of warlord rule nor the insurgency of the Taliban, short of expanding the war to include U.S. confrontation with a neighboring nuclear-armed state, there is no path to lasting victories for U.S. objectives in Afghanistan. It might be doubted that the situation is so extreme, or that there might be some strategy or solution as of yet tried by U.S. policymakers and warfighters that can bring peace to Afghanistan. If such a possibility exists, it cannot involve ignoring the origin and nature of the struggle in which the United States has been unsuccessfully prosecuting for the last two decades.

There is no way to wage a politically correct proxy war, being careful to appease and avoid giving offense to the primary belligerent in the conflict and expect a successful outcome. If Washington is unprepared to hold Islamabad to account for being the malign actor in the international system it has become, there is no strategic justification to remain in Afghanistan.

There is a looming tragedy, to be sure, in the near future of Afghanistan when the U.S. withdraws. Estimates by the U.S. intelligence community suggest Kabul could fall to the Taliban in only six months after the last U.S. troops leave Afghan soil. It will bear keeping in mind when that happens that the Taliban was also making advances even after the U.S. had escalated the war effort in 2017. That it was able to do so with such relative impunity despite the presence of U.S. troops is the direct result of the relative impunity Pakistan has enjoyed under U.S. policy.

By withdrawing from Afghanistan, the United States is letting go of a false hope for a lost cause doomed by a polite fiction. As the global nexus of security threats to the U.S. shifts to the Chinese Communist Party, to whom the rulers of Pakistan have been eager to offer themselves up as loyal vassals, this should be only the beginning of a major shift in U.S. policy towards the region.

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Continues to Grow: Daniel 8

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile growing steadily


Jul 02, 2021 17:19 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], July 2 (ANI): Pakistan is developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war but the problem is that it is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal.

Moreover, it can lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War, therefore an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed to stop the arms race.
Kyle Mizokami, a defense and national-security writer in an article in The National Interest said that the country is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war.
A nuclear power for decades, Pakistanis now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.
Experts believe Pakistan‘s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much-enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs, wrote Kyle Mizokami.
In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan‘s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future, reported The National Interest.

Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995.
Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs.
The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service.
Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands, reported The National Interest.
The sea component of Pakistan‘s nuclear force consists of the Baburclass of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the US government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology.
Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems, reported The National Interest.
Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world.
Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal, wrote Mizokami. (ANI)

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Continues to Grow: Daniel 8

Pakistan expanding plutonium production capacity for use in nuclear weapons – SIPRI


Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce plutonium for use in nuclear weapons in tune with an increase in global stockpiles of atomic weapons, missiles and aircraft delivery systems, led by the United States and Russia who appear locked in competition to modernise their nuclear warheads.

The raw material for nuclear weapons is fissile material, either highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA have produced both HEU and plutonium for use in their nuclear weapons. The Indian and Israeli arsenal is mainly plutonium based. So far Pakistan has mainly relied on HEU for its stockpile of around 165 nuclear weapons as per the latest estimates. But Islamabad appears to be diversifying, by enhancing its ability to produce weapon-grade plutonium, according to the findings of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Released on Monday, the SIPRI Yearbook 2021 assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security. A key finding is that despite an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2020, more have been deployed with operational forces.While the US and Russia continued to reduce their overall nuclear weapon inventories by dismantling retired warheads in 2020, both are estimated to have had around 50 more nuclear warheads in operational deployment at the start of 2021 than a year earlier, says the report.

The report said that at the start of 2021, nine states e the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) e possessed approximately 13,080 nuclear weapons, of which 3825 were deployed with operational forces. Approximately 2000 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert. 

While it marked a decrease from the 13,400 that SIPRI estimated these states possessed at the beginning of 2020, the estimated number of nuclear weapons currently deployed with operational forces increased to 3825, from 3720 last year. Around 2000 of these e nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the US ewere kept in a state of high operational alert, the report mentions. 

The institute said that three emerging trends in the Asia and Oceania region remained a cause for concern – the growing ChineseeUnited States rivalry combined with an increasingly assertive Chinese foreign policy; the growing violence related to identity politics, based on ethnic or religious polarization (or both); and, the increase in transnational violent jihadist groups, some of the most organized groups of which are active in South East Asia, most notably in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. 

“The overall number of warheads in global military stockpiles now appears to be increasing, a worrisome sign that the declining trend that has characterized global nuclear arsenals since the end of the cold war has stalled,” the report quotes Hans M. Kristensen, Associate Senior Fellow with SIPRI’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme and Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), as saying. 

Pakistan nuclear stockpile growing

According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), an independent group of arms-control and non-proliferation experts from both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, Pakistan – a nuclear weapon state outside of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty – continues production of fissile materials for weapons. 

The Princeton-based panel said that, as of the beginning of 2020, Pakistan had an accumulated stockpile estimated as about 410 kg of plutonium which has been produced at four production reactors in Khushab in the Sargodha Division of the Punjab province. 

It further mentions that, as of the beginning of 2020, Pakistan is estimated to have a stockpile of 3.9e0.4 tons of HEU and continues to produce HEU for its nuclear weapon programme. 

“Uncertainty about Pakistan’s uranium resources, and the operating history and enrichment capacity of its centrifuge plant at Kahuta and a possible second plant at Gadwal (which may be dedicated to HEU production) limits the reliability of the estimate,” the panel says in its country report on Pakistan. 

Last year, in a detailed research done on the basis of recent and historic public domain satellite imagery, Washington’s Institute for Science and International Security identified a significant and previously undocumented extension to the Chashma reprocessing plant and considerable development of co-located infrastructure over the last decade. 

“At a minimum, the extension to the plutonium separation plant and associated facilities at Chashma demonstrates an on-going commitment to invest in and operate plutonium separation technology at industrial scale,” the institute revealed in a detailed report.- IANS



Pakistan becomes a nuclear power in 1998, Why Pakistan went Nuclear?

The hardcore right-wing extremist BJP has a long-held desire to make India a member of the nuclear club. After being sworn in as the Prime Minister in 1998, the nationalist leader, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee announced his national plan of governance in March 1998. Since making India a ‘nuclear power’ was among the key promises that BJP had made during the election campaign, Mr. Vajpayee didn’t take much time to reaffirm that. In pursuit of this, he declared India’s determination to conduct nuclear tests. Pakistan was quite concerned with this Indian warmongering and aggressive mindset. The then Foreign Minister, Mr. Gohar Ayub Khan, appealed to the international community to take notice and put sanctions on India to forbid it from following its nuclear ambitions. This was also intended to make the world realize the BJP-led government’s developing nuclear threat that would put at stake the peace of the world in general and the region in particular. Specifically, when it was reported in The New York Times that as per the Western Intelligence sources “India has stored around 100 nuclear bombs and can rapidly assemble them,” Pakistan’s deliberation was quite significant and timely.

Subsequently, on April 2, 1998, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wrote letters to the international leaders, including President Clinton, urging his support for India’s declarations, which he described as a huge leap toward fully operationalizing the Indian nuclear capability. He also asserted that “Pakistan would be forced to take notice of these alarming trends, and it will have no choice but to exercise its sovereign right to take adequate security measures.” Unfortunately, all of these efforts went in vain because not only did the world community turn a blind eye to India’s nuclear tests, but international agencies were unable to prevent India from demonstrating its nuclear weapon capability. Then ultimately, Pakistan had no choice but to conduct a nuclear test in 1998 in order to reestablish the balance of power in the region; that India was trying to tilt in its favor under its great power aspirations. Pakistan, unlike India, never desired to be regarded as a global power; instead, its nuclear capability is purely meant to provide a credible and reliable defence.   

Pakistan has practiced strategic restraint for a long time. However, with a frightening desire to dominate South Asia, India has been dramatically involved in an extensive and all-encompassing modernization of its conventional and nuclear capabilities. Despite still being reluctant to indulge in an arms race, Pakistan was well aware of the sensitivity that such Indian adventurism would bring large-scale military modernization to the region. 

While being a responsible state, Pakistan believes in peaceful coexistence but it requires serious efforts to settle long-standing disputes such as Kashmir; since peace and prosperity in the region are directly associated with the Kashmir dispute. However, even after 23 years, Since the Indian nuclear tests in May 1998 the current extremist government in India led by Mr. Modi is following the same legacy of the BJP yet in a more aggressive way.

The reckless Indian nuclear horn: Revelation 8

India’s nuclear recklessness

Part II

So the latest report of uranium being sold and smuggled out of India is not new. Why the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye and why the IAEA has deliberately ignored these continuing episodes of Uranium theft and smuggling incidents are serious questions that need to be raised on all relevant forums. With this terrible track record, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) should not even begin to consider India for membership till its nuclear safety record can be visibly improved.

Nor is this all – in terms of problems related to India’s nuclear development. The Indian state’s proliferation record is equally poor. While Pakistan has been and continues to be pilloried ad nauseum over the Dr A Q Khan episode, the silence over the Indian state’s massive proliferation record reveals the hypocrisy and duality of approach of the international community on the entire nuclear issue.

It does not surprise one because Israel’s nuclear capability and any discussion on Israel’s nuclear programme has been kept strictly out of all international agendas on nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapons including in the IAEA. Why states like Pakistan do not raise this is what is inexplicable.

India’s proliferation record as a state: On March 10, 2006, Albright and Basu of the Institute for Science and International Security wrote that the ISIS had “uncovered a well-developed, active, and secret Indian programme to outfit its uranium enrichment programme and circumvent other countries’ export control efforts.” Also, according to them, India leaked out sensitive nuclear technology in order to procure material for its nuclear programme.

Even before these revelations, India’s proliferation record was highly suspect. It had a strategic relationship with Iraq, which included nuclear cooperation going back to the first Indian nuclear test in 1974, as highlighted in a document of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). It was in 1974 that Saddam flew into India specifically to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the Indira Gandhi government. This agreement included exchange of scientists, training and technology transfers. Iraqi scientists were working in India’s fuel reprocessing laboratories when India separated the plutonium for its first nuclear explosive device.

Later, those same Iraqi scientists were in charge of the nuclear fuel reprocessing unit supplied to Iraq by the Italian company, CNEN. This was followed by an Indian scientist spending a year at the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission’s computer centre training Iraqis in the use of nuclear computer codes. So it was hardly surprising to find Iraq supporting India’s nuclear tests. The Ba’ath Party’s newspaper, ‘Al-Thawra’, declared, “We cannot see how anyone can ask India not to develop nuclear weapons and its long-range missiles at a time it is like any other big state with its human and scientific potential.” (ISIS Brief, May 28, 1998).

Also, in May 1998, a Baghdad weekly, owned by Saddam Hussein’s eldest son Uday, announced that India had agreed to enroll several groups of Iraqi engineers “in advanced technological courses” scheduled for mid-July. The field of training was left unspecified.

An Indian company, NEC Engineers Private Ltd, is believed to have helped Iraq to acquire equipment and materials “capable of being used for the production of chemicals for mass destruction,” according to a CNN report of January 26, 2003. The company also sent technical personnel to Iraq, including to the Fallujah II chemical plant. Between 1998 and 2001, NEC Engineers Private Ltd shipped 10 consignments of highly sensitive equipment, including titanium vessels and centrifugal pumps to Iraq.

India also had a nuclear cooperation agreement with Iran, signed in February 1975. It began helping in the completion of the Bushehr plant between 1980 and 1983, including the sending of nuclear scientists and engineers to Iran in November 1982. In 1991, despite US opposition, India negotiated the sale of a 10 MW nuclear reactor to Iran and Dr Prasad worked in Bushehr after he retired in July 2000 as head of the Nuclear Corporation of India. Another Indian, Narander Singh, also worked on Iran’s nuclear programme. That is why, in February 2004, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, visited New Delhi for talks with the Indian prime minister.

In March 2007, two Indian nationals, Sudarshan and Mythili Gopal, were arrested in the US for illegally transferring latest computer technology meant for missile guidance system to Indian government R&D institutes: Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre; Bharat Dynamics Ltd; and Aeronautical Development Establishment.

And this is not all, in terms of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) proliferation. In 1992, India supplied thiodiglycol and other chemicals also to Iran and, in 1993, 30 tonnes of trimethyl-phosphite was supplied to Iran by United Phosphorus of India. It is also known that an Indian company exported chemicals to Iraq for Saddam’s missile programme and a director of that company, Hans Raj Shiv was under arrest in New Delhi.

Despite these public nuclear and other WMD proliferation revelations about the state of India, the US has continued to press for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The discovery of India’s chemical weapons stash was another mark of rogue behaviour by the Indian state on the issue of WMD, revealed when India had to finally confess and destroy its chemical weapons after the Convention on Chemical Weapons came into force.

The special treatment meted out to India and Israel on WMD reflects the discriminatory approach towards the entire issue of nuclear weapons proliferation. Clearly for many Western states it is not the issue of preventing proliferation but of denying certain states nuclear status – and these states happen to be primarily Muslim states. Therein lies the entire crux of the proliferation issue.


The writer is the federal minister for human rights.

Twitter: @ShireenMazari1

The views expressed by the writer are her own.

Nuclear winter with the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Professor: Nuclear war might cause crop failures, famine; ways to prevent

This is a screen capture of Alan Robock addressing a virtual Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (FORNL) meeting on nuclear war and its potential impact on the world and its inhabitants.

For most people, “climate change” conjures up images of fires, floods, severe wind damage and humans suffering from extreme storms, long droughts, sea level rise and heat waves as the air and oceans warm up and glaciers melt.

But for physicists who have been modeling the potential environmental impacts of a nuclear war since the early 1980s, humans could cause climate change triggered by temperatures running in the reverse direction — an instant Ice Age lasting more than a decade. Temperatures would plummet below freezing most days. The predicted result: food crops would fail and massive starvation would kill millions of people who survived the blast effects and radioactivity of nuclear bomb explosions.

In his recent virtual talk on the climatic and humanitarian impacts of nuclear war to Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Alan Robock explained the “nuclear winter” theory. The distinguished professor of climate science in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University said the phrase nuclear winter was coined in a 1983 Science magazine paper coauthored by Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer and science communicator. The phrase describes a phenomenon first predicted in 1982 by two scientists in a Swedish journal article, “Nuclear War: The Aftermath.”

“Paul Crutzen and John Birks were the first to point out that there will be massive fires and that the smoke from the fires could change climate,” Robock said. He then showed an illustration of Earth’s Northern Hemisphere covered by a cloud of smoke that moved south.

“The smoke comes from fires that would be started by detonated nuclear weapons,” he said. “If there was enough smoke to block the sun’s heat and light, the temperatures would plunge below freezing even in the summertime. We call that nuclear winter. It would be cold, dry and dark. The heating of the stratosphere would destroy the ozone layer so more ultraviolet radiation would reach the surface. Food crops would die, causing global famine

Robock’s 1984 paper in the scientific journal Nature indicated that a nuclear war would produce higher-than-normal amounts of sunlight-reflecting ice and snow, making Earth even colder.

He surmised that his paper and the papers of American and Russian scientists doing climate modeling may have halted the arms race between 1986 and 1993, based on statements citing scientists’ conclusions by former American and Soviet Union presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

But, Robock said, “We still have 10,000 nuclear weapons deployed and over 13,000 weapons on the planet (down from 70,000 in 1986). Nine nations possess nuclear weapons, but the U.S. and Russia have 90% of them.”

The superpowers have about 6,000 warheads each, he added, “but the other seven have only a few hundred or fewer than a hundred each. The problem has not been solved.”

He and others have been involved in modeling the climate and crop impacts of millions of tons of smoke injected into the upper atmosphere by a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan and a larger nuclear war between Russia and the United States. Here is his conclusion:

“A nuclear war between any nuclear states, using much less than one percent of the current nuclear arsenal, would produce climate change unprecedented in human history. A small nuclear war could reduce food production by 10 to 40 percent for a decade, with massive increases in ultraviolet radiation (which causes deadly skin cancers).

“The current arsenal can still produce nuclear winter, causing global famine and killing millions of people. In a U.S.-Russia nuclear war, more people could die in India or China than in the U.S. or Russia even if no bombs were dropped in India or China. The effects of regional or global nuclear war would last for more than a decade.”

Robock, a member of the Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction, has spoken to a number of university physics departments to encourage physicists to advocate to Congress and stakeholders that nuclear weapons should be eliminated.

“We are lucky that for the past 75 years there has not been a second nuclear war,” he said. “Here are the immediate steps we can take to make this less likely. Take U.S. land-based missiles off hair trigger alert. Give up granting the U.S. president the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. Change our nuclear policy to one of ‘no first use of nuclear weapons.’ Stand down our land-based missiles and begin to dismantle them as part of a rapid reduction of our nuclear arsenal.”

Robock provided evidence that nuclear arsenals do not deter conventional weapon attacks by non-nuclear states and terrorist groups. He added that the world has been endangered by several “nuclear close calls,” including on “Black Saturday,” Oct. 27, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis when the U.S. and the Soviet Union came close to initiating nuclear attacks.

“A nuclear war could start tomorrow by accident, hackers, computer failure, bad sensors or unstable leaders,” Robock concluded. “The only way to prevent a global catastrophe is to get rid of nuclear weapons.”