Significance of nuclear weapons


Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

THE strategic significance of the nuclear weapons is undeniable. These weapons make major or total wars less likely between the belligerent states. And also prevent the smaller states from punitive actions of the bigger states. Today, Kim Jong-un regime is surviving due to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons. Since the development of nuclear weapons, Pakistan has successfully deterred India’s aggression. Presently, all the nuclear weapon states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Therefore, nuclear weapon states and their allies rejected the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
India’s Cold Start Doctrine, colossal spending on military hardware procurement from technologically advanced nations, Ballistic Missile Defense programme and above all Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s irresponsible warmongering hysterical rhetoric necessitates Pakistan to beef up its nuclear stockpile. The Indian hawks earnest desire is to bleed Pakistan. Therefore, India has transformed its military doctrine. It has been modernising its armed forces with the sophisticated imported military hardware. According to the 2017 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) fact sheet, India was the major arms importer from 2011 to 2016. Instead of indulging in costly conventional arms race, Pakistani has revamped its nuclear doctrine and has adopted the ‘full-spectrum deterrence’ posture in 2013.
Under the full spectrum deterrence it could utilize battlefield nuclear weapons or tactical nuclear weapons to check large attacking Indian formations. The testing of advanced version of cruise missile Babar-3 and Ababeel, surface-to-surface ballistic missile using the multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) technology to deliver multiple conventional and nuclear warheads demonstrates Pakistan’s nuclear weapons delivery vehicles technical proficiency. Babar-3 and Ababell will be very effective against the Indian ballistic missile defense shield. Thus, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons upgrading sustains the strategic equilibrium between the belligerent neighbors and sustains strategic stability in South Asia. Pakistan has been upgrading its nuclear arsenal to solidify its defensive fence without entangling in devastating arms race with India. National Command Authority categorically stated that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not for offence, but for deterrence. Thus, Pakistan’s nuclear posture is not provocative. Pakistani ruling elite is also cognizant of probability of unauthorised, inadvertent and accidental use of nuclear weapons. Therefore, it has institutionalised a highly efficient, robust and centralized command and control mechanism to secure its nuclear assets.
Admittedly, the nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of non-state actors. President Trump National Security Strategy (NSS) 2017 underlines the threat of nuclear terrorism. The NSS 2017 pledges to prevent “nuclear weapons, technology, and materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.” Without having any substantial evidence, the United States NSS 2017 expressed its wariness over Pakistan’s nuclear program safety and security. It claimed to “encourage Pakistan to continue demonstrating that it is a responsible steward of its nuclear assets.” Islamabad’s response was very prompt and candid. While, rejecting the baseless accusations, Islamabad reiterated that “the safety and security standards of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are second to no other nuclear state.”
On December 21, 2017, The National Command Authority “took a detailed review of the Nuclear Security Regime and expressed full confidence in command and control systems and security measures in-place to ensure comprehensive stewardship and security of strategic assets and materials.” Pakistan, as a responsible nuclear State has been contributing meaningfully towards the global efforts to improve nuclear safety and security. For instance, Islamabad has established a state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence that provides specialized courses in nuclear security, physical protection, material control and accounting, transport security and personnel reliability. The Center of Excellence acts as a regional and international hub to train the people. Pakistan’s Parliament Legislated an Act–the Export Control on Goods, Technologies, Material and Equipment Related to Nuclear and Biological Weapons and their Delivery Systems Act–in September 2004. It was a practical attempt by the government of Pakistan to fulfill international obligations envisaged by the UNSC Resolution 1540 in April 2004. The purpose of the Export Control Act was to further strengthen controls on the export of sensitive technologies, particularly related to nuclear and biological weapons and their means of delivery. Pakistan also established a Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 2007. The purpose of the SECDIV is to further tighten controls over exports, by monitoring and implementing the Export Control Act of 2004.
Ironically, the Americans have been projecting India as a regional leader in spite of its destabilizing policies in South Asia. Therefore, the Trump Administration’s NSS 2017 refrained from commenting on India’s destabilizing conventional and nuclear buildup. It was also quite over India’s defiance of UNSC resolutions, introduction of nuclear weapons in South Asia and use of terrorism as a state policy, especially against Pakistan. It is not only ignoring but also assisting India’s development of ballistic missile defense program. The Americans seem complacent to India’s no-first use pledge, which is nothing but a ‘rhetorical device’. The Americans need to comprehend the severe repercussion of the inter-service rivalry in the Indian Armed forces. According to organizational theorist inter-service rivalry weaken the command and control apparatus of the nuclear forces. It was also reported that Indian Air Force (IAF) would not wait for Pakistan’s first strike. As per IAF planning study, Vision 2020, the Indian Nuclear Air Command is planning and working towards having a first strike capability.
To conclude, Islamabad ought to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. Without modernizing nuclear weapons, Pakistan cannot deter India from launching an all-out punitive offense against it, especially after the development and deployment of ballistic missile defense shield. Thus, any compromise on its nuclear arsenal advancement would be perilous for Pakistan’s national security.
— The writer is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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