Pak N-arsenal: Why India should be really worried


rediff NEWS

According to the most recent estimates, Pakistan has doubled its nuclear stockpile over the last few years with the nation’s arsenal now totalling more than 100 deployed weapons. Pakistan is now ahead of India in the production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and development of delivery weapons.

It is now producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than any other country in the world. Pakistan will soon be world’s fourth largest nuclear weapon state ahead of France and Britain and behind only the United States, Russia and China. It is investing heavily in plutonium production capacity with work reportedly underway on a fourth plutonium-producing reactor at Khushab nuclear complex.

Any attempt by the US to force Pakistan on the nuclear issue will only generate further suspicion that the US favours India and wants to control Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. This, despite the fact that throughout the Cold War years, it was Washington that was critical in giving a boost to Pakistani nuclear programme by wilfully turning a blind eye to nuclear developments in the country.

Today Pakistan accuses the West of double standards and discrimination as the pressure has mounted on Islamabad for signing the Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty aimed at banning all future production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium.

A successful conclusion of FMCT by the end of this year is a critical element of the Obama administration’s non-proliferation agenda.

Pakistan already has more than enough nuclear weapons for an effective deterrent against India. 110 odd nuclear weapons will not make Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent more effective as compared to a deterrent based on 60 odd weapons.

Nuclear deterrence doesn’t work like that. The higher number will just be used by the military to enhance its prestige by claiming that Pakistan is ahead of India, at least in this realm.

For long, the US and the West have viewed nuclear weapons in South Asia with dread because of the possibility that a conventional war between India and Pakistan might escalate into a nuclear one.

Indian and Pakistani officials, on the other hand, have continued to argue that just as the threat of Mutual Assured Destruction resulted in a ‘hot peace’ between the US and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, nuclear weapons in South Asia will also have a stabilising impact.

They point out the fact that despite several provocations, India and Pakistan have behaved ‘rationally’ during crises by keeping their conflicts limited and avoiding escalation.

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