Pak nuclear stock pile to grow: US analyst

Pakistan's nuclear stock pile is likely to grow in the coming years, as its programme unlike that of India is controlled by military leaders who consider this as both a political and military instrument, a noted American analyst has said.

Michael Krepon argues that it will be hard to dampen the growth of Pakistan's considerable and growing nuclear arsenal because few individuals make these decisions and most Pakistanis view them as a rare success story.

In a report on 'Pakistan's Nuclear Strategy and Deterrence Stability', Krepon of the Stimson Institute says that a further growth in Pakistan's stock piles is likely to accelerate a similar growth in India.

"Pakistan's stockpile is likely to grow as long as key constituencies within the country view their nuclear programmes as a success story, domestic critics can be easily dismissed, relations with India remain contentious, and the sense of Pakistan's international isolation grows," he said.

He said perceived nuclear requirements could be revised downward in select possibilities -- in case of advent of new leaders who have unconventional views about nuclear weapons, or improved relations with India with significant domestic backing or severe economic perturbations or a perception- shattering event that causes a rethink by nuclear advocates.

India's nuclear stockpile, like that of Pakistan, has approximately doubled over the last decade to perhaps 80-100 warheads, he said, adding that the pace of New Delhi's efforts has seemed satisfactory to Indian political leaders who have viewed nuclear weapons as political, message-sending instruments, rather than as weapons to carry out war plans.

The ambivalent Indian approach to nuclear weapons has been well-chronicled and is deeply rooted, he said.

"Pakistan's programmes, unlike India's, are controlled by military officers who view nuclear weapons as military, as well as political, instruments," Krepon said.

He said by almost every indicator, Pakistan is receding in India's rear-view mirror and Indian elites resent being compared to Pakistan but this is not true with respect to Pakistan's nuclear weapon-related accomplishments.

"If reports are true that Pakistan is leading India in warhead numbers and operationally-ready missiles, and if the stewards of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal continue along current programming trajectories, New Delhi is likely to accelerate stockpile growth and hasten the transfer of missile programmes from the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to the military services," he wrote.

"India certainly has the nuclear infrastructure to compete successfully with Pakistan, which is one of the reasons why the stewards of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal strive so hard. Still, the tempos of making and implementing decisions in New Delhi are not easily accelerated," he noted.

He said the Pakistani nuclear doctrine asserts that its nuclear deterrent is India-specific but the requirements for credible, minimal deterrence are not fixed, rahter they are determined by a dynamic threat environment.

"Given India's conventional military advantages, Pakistan reserves the option to use nuclear weapons first in extremis," Krepon said.

With the exception of the first use option, all of the central tenets of Pakistan's nuclear doctrine have some malleability, he argued.

For example, Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is not entirely "India specific".
Pakistani officials have occasionally expressed concerns about Israeli and US designs against their nuclear capabilities – designs that presumably also require deterrence in some fashion, he said.

Comments (+)