Friday November 24, 2017
Home India Growing Nucle...

Growing Nuclear Weapons Increase Concerns About Possible Pakistan-India War

Experts feel that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play

0
124
Growing Nuclear Arsenals
Pakistani-made NASR missiles are on display during a military parade to mark Pakistan's Republic Day, in Islamabad, Pakistan. VOA
  • The volatility of the situation is further exacerbated because neither country has a national missile defense system
  • Experts believe that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play
  • Pakistan changed its policy of minimum credible deterrence to full spectrum response with tactical weapons armed with low-grade nuclear material for use in the battlefield
  • Kashmir has been a flashpoint since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 and caused the most recent flare-up last November

June 17, 2017: India and Pakistan have fought three wars and have been on the brink of another several times, a worrying prospect given that both have growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and questions about how secure they are.

The arms race between the South Asian neighbours has moved to enhancing the delivery systems for the warheads, which could annihilate the subcontinent several times. India’s recent launch of more than 100 satellites with a single rocket foreshadows the capability of sending up a missile with multiple nuclear weapons.

The volatility of the situation is further exacerbated because neither country has a national missile defense system, and it likely would take several years to get one in place.

While the policy of mutually assured destruction has kept hostilities from overheating so far, experts believe that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play.

And there are plenty of risks.

Kashmir a flashpoint

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 and caused the most recent flare-up last November. Both sides accuse each other of harboring terrorists who launch cross-border attacks. Therefore, the question is whether the nukes in South Asia could fall into the wrong hands during mobilization in the fog of war.

Nuclear arms experts Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimate that Pakistan has 120-130 nuclear warheads compared with India’s 110-120. India is said to have a stockpile of 540 kilograms of weapons grade plutonium, enough to produce 130 warheads. Pakistan has 3,100 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, sufficient to build 300 warheads. That’s a lot to keep an eye on.

“The nukes were safe when these were in storage areas in both countries,” Michael Krepon, co-founder and senior associate at Stimson Center, said in an interview with VOA’s Urdu Service. “But when these have to be moved around in a state of war, it surely raises a red flag about their security on many counts.

ALSO READ: UN: World Population to reach 10 billion by 2050, India and Pakistan to lead

Serious concerns

“The biggest concern was about Pakistan’s tactical weapons, which have a very short range,” Krepon said. “It means that these will have to be moved very close to the battlefield. There are fears that independent groups who want to settle scores with either Pakistan or India could attack them.

“Secondly, these could be attacked by Indian warplanes. Thirdly, since the fissile material has to be transported separately to combine with the main structure, this fissile material could also come under attack. These factors pose greater concerns, especially in the United States.”

India developed its first strategic ballistic missile in 1996 with a range of 250 kilometers. Click To Tweet

Professor Scott Sagan of Stanford University adds: “The plausible place to move these tactical nuclear weapons would be to roads where these would be less vulnerable to Indian attack due to their flexibility. However, this also generates a fear that these could become vulnerable to terrorists’ seizure in whole or in part. The same was true for India.”

The countries have continued to expand their nuclear capacity long past the stated goal of a “credible deterrence” the vow of no first use. “No first use policy in India was a misnomer, and India would opt for the first strike if it deemed necessary,” said Mueed Yousuf of the United States Institute for Peace.

Professor Paul Kapoor of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School added: “If India used nuclear weapons, it would use them in massive way to inflict an unacceptable harm to adverse countries.”

A two-pronged policy

Zamir Akram, a former Pakistani ambassador and U.N. representative, said Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine initially was based on India’s much larger superiority in conventional weapons. However, in response to India’s “Cold Start” doctrine, allowing it to attack Pakistan with conventional weapons to prevent nuclear retaliation, Pakistan changed its policy of minimum credible deterrence to full spectrum response with tactical weapons armed with low-grade nuclear material for use in the battlefield, Akram said.

Kapoor says that results in a two-pronged policy: use low-grade tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional war, and use nuclear weapons in case of an imminent nuclear attack by India.

“While Pakistan had a bigger stockpile of nukes as compared to India, the induction of very short-range tactical weapons into its conventional warfare mechanism was a worrying factor,” Krepon said.

India developed its first strategic ballistic missile in 1996 with a range of 250 kilometers. During the last decade, it has added medium- and long-range missiles that can reach Pakistan and China.

Pakistan has missiles capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads up to 2,750 kilometers, enough to target all major Indian cities, and cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. (VOA)

Next Story

‘Keep up the pressure on North Korea’; Here is what North Korean Defectors want Trump to know

The defectors want Trump to persuade China, Pyongyang’s only remaining ally, to stop repatriating North Koreans who take refuge there.

0
38
defectors
Ji Seong-ho, North Korean refugee and president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights. VOA

Washington, November 4, 2017 : Four North Korean defectors have told VOA in video messages intended for U.S. President Donald Trump what they want him to do and say during his visit to South Korea.

The messages were delivered ahead of Trump’s departure Friday morning for a 12-day, five-nation tour which is expected to focus on tensions over North Korea’s its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He is scheduled to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Nov. 7.

North Korea is expected to dominate their conversation at a time when recent polls show Americans consider North Korea to be the most immediate threat to the United States.

“If [Trump’s] coming to strengthen Korea-U.S. relations, he’s welcome, but if he’s coming to foment a war between the two Koreas, I cannot welcome him,” said Kim Young Soo, a defector and former soldier who arrived in South Korea in 2006. “As a head of state, I think he could be more discreet when talking about a war.”

The defectors want Trump to persuade China, Pyongyang’s only remaining ally, to stop repatriating North Koreans who take refuge there.

“While seeking freedom, they are put at risk of being captured by Chinese authorities and being forcibly returned to North Korea,” said Ji Seong-ho, a defector. “They may even face death. So I sincerely would like to ask President Trump to urge China’s Xi Jinping to stop repatriation of North Koreans so that they can attain their dreams of freedom.”

And they want him to keep up the pressure on North Korea with sanctions.

“It’ll take an insurgency against the regime to bring about a revolution,” said Ri Sun Kyong, who arrived to South Korea in 2002. “Every single country in the world should not help (North Korea) in any way. Instead, they should increase pressure so an insurgency takes place.”

Trump, who has signed a sweeping executive order increasing U.S. authority to sanction companies that finance trade with North Korea, has said all options are on the table in dealing with Kim.

Amid the leaders’ war of words — Trump has said if Pyongyang launches an attack on the U.S. or its allies, there is “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” and Kim has said, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire” — the Trump administration has also been pushing other countries to end or curtail their diplomatic ties to North Korea. (VOA)

Next Story

Kim Jong-un Applauds North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme Despite US Sanctions

The leader said Pyongyang's nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was "safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia"

0
12
nuclear weapons
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

Seoul, October 8, 2017 : North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lauded his country’s nuclear weapons programme as the best way to defend its sovereignty and counter threats from the US.

Speaking to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on Saturday, Kim Jong-un said “nuclear weapons of North Korea are a precious fruition borne by its people’s bloody struggle for defending the destiny and sovereignty of the country from the protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists”, Efe reported citing state news agency KCNA.

Kim, also the chairman of the WPK, said Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was “safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia”.

He added his country’s nuclear ambitions have provided the foundations for strong economic development, despite sanctions imposed by the “US imperialists and their vassal forces” to force North Korea into abandoning its weapons programme.

ALSO READ North Korea Threatens Japan of Nuclear Destruction, Calls its Actions ‘Suicidal’

During the plenary session, which is held at least once a year, the North Korean leader’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong was elected to the party’s politburo, a sign of her rising importance and clout within the North Korean regime.

Choe Ryong-hae, a close aide of the leader, joined the party’s Central Military Commission, while Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was appointed to the central committee’s politburo, according to the state agency. (IANS)

 

Next Story

India third among the countries that have faced most natural disasters in the last half century, says UN Secretary General

"It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act"

0
37
UN Secretary General , António Guterres
UN Secretary General, António Guterres. Wikimedia
  • The UN Secretary General has said on Tuesday, that India ranked third among the countries that have faced most natural disasters in the last half century 
  • Guterres listed climate change among the seven global threats needing immediate global action 
  • He called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalization 

New Delhi, September 20, 2017: India ranked third among the countries that have faced the most natural disasters in the last half century, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday pleading for unwavering international action on climate change.

In his first speech to the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, he said, “It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act.”

“I urge governments to implement the historic Paris Agreement with ever greater ambition,” he said.

United States President Donald Trump has declared that his country is pulling out of the Paris agreement on combating climate change.

Pointedly, Guterres said, “The United States, followed by China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia, have experienced the most disasters since 1995 – more than 1,600, or once every five days.”

Climate change was among the seven global threats that he listed needing immediate global action.

International terrorism is taking a great toll on the world, he said and called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalisation.

“Stronger international cooperation remains crucial,” he said. “Together, we need to make full use of UN instruments, and expand our efforts to support survivors.

But he added, “Experience has also shown that harsh crackdowns and heavy-handed approaches are counterproductive.”

Foremost among the seven perils he listed is the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea.

“Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are at the highest level since the end of the Cold War,” Guterres warned. “The fear is not abstract. Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

He appealed to the Security council to act unitedly to meet the threat and to all countries to comply with its resolution imposing sanctions.

“Only that unity can lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and — as the resolution recognises — create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement to resolve the crisis,” he said while condemning Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

“The dark side of innovation” is another global peril, he said, adding “it has moved from the frontier to the front door.”

Also readWorld Riddled with Genocide, War Crimes and Ethnic Cleaning; ‘We Must Do More’, Asserts UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

“Cyber war is becoming less and less a hidden reality — and more and more able to disrupt relations among States and destroy some of the structures and systems of modern life,” he said.

Genetic engineering has also raised ethical questions that have not been resolved, he said.

The humanitarian crisis from unresolved conflicts and violations of international law that is manifested in the flow of refugees is another peril the world faces, he said.

He mentioned the Rohingya crisis, and said, “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access. They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya.”

The other threats are the growing inequality among nations and within nations, and human migration.

Emphasising the need for global unity to meet the great perils facing humanity, Guterres said, “We come from different corners of the world. Our cultures, religions, traditions vary widely — and wonderfully. At times, there are competing interests among us. At others, there is even open conflict.”

“That is exactly why we need the United Nations, he said. “That is why multilateralism is more important than ever.” (IANS)