US-based experts say Pakistan and India are locked in a long-running nuclear arms race, with both sides building about 10 warheads a year. Pakistan may already have built 100 nuclear weapons, taking the lead over its neighbor and rival.
By Maimuna Ashraf
The meticulous news which appeared recently in Washington Post regarding Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has started a debate at national and international levels. It has started a discussion especially in western media, and now diverse conspiracy theories are coming up by different analysts. It was stated by Washington Post that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals now totals more than 100 deployed weapons and at this instant have an arsenal of up to 110 weapons. It added, only four years ago the Pakistani nuclear arsenals were estimated at 30 to 60 weapons. The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India. It also says that these figures make Pakistan the world’s fifth-largest nuclear power, ahead of “legal” powers France and Britain. The vast bulk of nuclear stockpiles are held by the United States and Russia, followed by China. Many hypotheses are coming up for this rapid increase and the most common hypothesis is that ‘Pakistan is increasing its nuclear arsenals due to the threat of war with its traditional foe India. Pakistan has no declared nuclear doctrine so it sees its arsenal as a deterrent to an attack by the Indian forces that are heavily deployed near its border.’ If we look at ground realities this rapid increase sounds quite logical, Pakistan follows the minimum deterrence posture and has an offensive-defensive posture because it is faced with a big enemy India who has a better early warning and defensive system. India has the assistance of Israel and France, besides it is also getting additional advantage from the US-India nuclear deal that’s why some experts are saying that the 2008 agreement that permits India to purchase nuclear fuel for civilian purposes was a spur to Pakistani weapons production. Moreover Indian Cold-Start doctrine is also designed to target Pakistan in a limited manner. Subsequently Pakistan security posture demands an offensive First-Strike option. Thus if Pakistan is not getting that much high quality technology as India is getting from different foreign hands, it is understood that Pakistan has to maximize the quantity of its nuclear arsenal in order to maintain its minimum deterrence. Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf said that ‘in order to reinforce its deterrence against India, Pakistan has to increase the number of nuclear arsenals as it is an ultimate way to coop up with the capabilities of India; hence Pakistan has made an important advancement in its nuclear capabilities.’ Brig. Gen. Nazir Butt, who is the defense attaché at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said that “Pakistan lives in a tough neighbourhood and will never be oblivious to its security needs”. No doubt it’s a great achievement for Pakistan to increase its nuclear arsenals at such a time when political and economic instability is at its worst, a fact appreciated on international level as well. As Mr. Hans M. Kristensen wrote, Pakistan’s development of cruise missiles with nuclear capability is interesting because it suggests that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons designers have been successful in building smaller and lighter plutonium warheads. Pakistan has sharply increased its production of plutonium, allowing it to make lighter warheads for more mobile delivery systems. Its newest missile, the Shaheen II, has a range of 1,500 miles and is about to go into operational deployment. Pakistan also has developed nuclear-capable land-and-air-launched cruise missiles. Analysts are saying that whenever US wants to increase pressure on Pakistan, its media and government come up with such news and reports which can exploit Pakistan’s position. Currently US is exploiting Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals issue because of two reasons; Firstly due to Raymond Davis issue and secondly due to Pakistan’s stance on Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) in Conference on Disarmament 2011. Just after the incident of Raymond Davis, US has started exerting tremendous pressure on Pakistan from different ways because US is asking for the diplomatic immunity of Davis while troika consisting of President, Prime Minister and Army Chief have decided to face every pressure from USA on Raymond Davis case and let the court to deal with the case. Since Pakistan has refused to release Raymond Davis, USA is indicating to adopt a policy of neglecting Pakistan in Afghanistan affairs. First time a top US General has expressed his view that USA can now win Afghan War without Pakistan. On the other hand, in the opening session of Conference on Disarmament, US is exerting double pressure on Pakistan, first by including India in Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and end that barrier which stops India from acquiring nuclear technology and material in the open market, Second by using international treaties (i.e. CTBT, FMCT) to force Pakistan to freeze Pakistani nukes at their current size and potential. Pakistan’s ambassador and permanent envoy to the UN in Geneva, Zamir Akram sharply criticized the US stance to include India in NSG as the move will rapidly disturb the South Asian security environment and will only favour India. He said that as a consequence to this Pakistan will be forced to make measures to ensure the credibility of its deterrence and the cumulative impact will disturb the South Asian security environment. Besides he also accused the United States and other major powers of “double standards and discrimination” for pushing a global treaty banning all future production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. These statements of Zamir Akram came in media on January 25 and right after few days on January 31 a detailed report regarding Pakistan nuclear arsenals appeared in Washington Post. The 2011 Conference of Disarmament seems pressurizing for Pakistan as it includes full negotiations on a fissile material ban and on nuclear disarmament, furthermore the administration’s determination to bring the fissile materials ban to completion this year may compel it to confront more directly the issue of proliferation in South Asia. As U.S. arms negotiator Rose Gottemoeller told Bloomberg News at the U.N. conference “Patience is running out.” While Russia has increased its cooperation with India and told Pakistan recently that it was “disturbed” about its arms buildup. It really seems astonishing that on one side US is seeking the immunity of a killer on the claim of self defense while on other side US is not ready to listen the self-defense claim of a country, isn’t the self-defense of a country more significant?