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Real threat to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is from its army, not terrorists: Former NSA Menon

Washington: The “real threat” to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is from rogue elements inside its military rather than from the terrorist outfits, India’s former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said.

Shivshankar Menon. Reuters

Shivshankar Menon. Reuters

Noting that terrorists have easier and cheaper ways of wreaking havoc, Menon said the nuclear weapons are complex devises that are difficult to manage, use and deliver and require very high level of skills.

“To my mind, the real threat (to Pakistani nukes) is from insiders, from a Pakistani pilot or a brigadier who decides to wage nuclear jihad, with or without orders,” Menon writes in his book titled Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy.

“The risk increases as Pakistan builds tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use, control of which will necessarily be delegated down the command chain,” he said.

Menon says Pakistan is the only nuclear weapon programme in the world that is exclusively under military control.

“There are good reasons why no other country chose to go down this path,” he said.

Menon writes that India has nuclear weapons for the contribution that make to its national security in an uncertain and anarchic world by preventing others from attempting nuclear blackmail and coercion against India.

“Unlike in certain NWS, India’s nuclear weapons are not meant to redress a military balance, or to compensate for some perceived inferiority in conventional military terms, or to serve some tactical or operational military need on the battlefield,” he notes.

While India has a declared policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons, Menon in his book warns that if Pakistan were to use tactical nuclear weapons against India “even against Indian forces in Pakistan,” it would effectively be opening the door to a massive Indian-first strike, having crossed India’s declared red line.

“Pakistani tactical nuclear weapons use would effectively free India to undertake a comprehensive first strike against Pakistan,” he said.

“There are several responses short of war available to a state like India,” he writes.

Pakistan’s nuclear programme has increased risk of conflict with India: US Congressional report

Pakistan’s “full spectrum deterrence” nuclear doctrine and increasing fissile production capability have increased the risk of a nuclear conflict with India, a Congressional report has said amid Pakistan’s efforts to drum up support for its NSG membership bid.”Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons, and adoption of a doctrine called ‘full spectrum deterrence’ have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal,” the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more, said the report ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons’, authored by Paul K Kerr, analyst in non-proliferation, and Mary Beth Nikitin, specialist in non-proliferation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the copy of the report dated June 14, which was obtained by PTI, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against it. CRS is the independent research wing of the US Congress, which periodically prepares reports on issues of interest to American lawmakers for information purpose only and does not represent the official position of the US Congress.Running into 30 pages, the report comes in the wake of Pakistan lobbying at the Capitol Hill and before the US government in support of its membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.Though noting that Pakistan in recent years has taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal, the CRS report observed that instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question.”Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan’s nuclear complex. While US and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards,” CRS said in its report meant for the lawmakers to take an informed decision. CRS said the current status of Pakistan’s nuclear export network is unclear, although most official US reports indicate that, at the least, it has been damaged considerably.Referring to Pakistan’s NSG membership application, the CRS said according to US law, the Obama Administration could apparently back Islamabad’s NSG membership without congressional approval. In the past few weeks, top Pakistani leadership including its Ambassador to the US has been writing letters to lawmakers and meeting Government officials to push for its NSG bid.

NSG divided on non-NPT nations becoming members: China

Beijing: Notwithstanding a US push for India’s NSG membership, China on Sunday said members of the elite club “remain divided” on the issue of non-NPT countries joining it and insisted that there “was no deliberation” on the bid by India and other nations at the Vienna meeting.

“There was no deliberation on any items related to the accession to the NSG by India or any other countries that are not signatories to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said in a statement while referring to the Vienna meeting that took place last week.

Representational image. Getty imagesRepresentational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

He said the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Chair Argentine Ambassador Rafael Mariano Grossi convened an unofficial meeting of the 48-member group on 9 June.

“The Chair said that this meeting has no agenda and is only convened to heed opinions from all parties on the outreach of the NSG and prepare for a report to be submitted at the NSG Plenary Meeting in Seoul later this month (24 June),” he said.

However, diplomatic sources in Vienna had said earlier that India’s membership was discussed at the meeting and talks had remained inconclusive.

China has maintained that non-NPT signatories should not be admitted into NSG on the grounds that it would undermine efforts to prevent proliferation.

Calling for “full discussions” within the NSG to reach an agreement on India’s admission, Hong said China would take part in the deliberations in a “constructive manner.”

“China has noted that some non-NPT countries aspire to join the NSG but when it comes to the accession by non-NPT countries, China maintains that the group should have full discussions before forging consensus and making decisions based on agreement,” he said.

“The NPT provides a political and legal foundation for the international non-proliferation regime as a whole. China’s position applies to all non-NPT countries and targets no one in particular,” Hong said, without directly mentioning India’s application to join the Vienna-based group.

China has been reportedly backing Pakistan’s bid to join the nuclear trading club.

“The fact is that many countries within the group also share China’s stance,” Hong said in response to a question about China, New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria objecting to India’s accession to the NSG at its meeting in Vienna.

“There has been some discussion within the group on the NSG membership of non-NPT countries, but NSG members remain divided on this issue,” Hong said.

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