'Pakistan needs short-range "tactical" nuclear weapons to deter India'

Adviser to National Command Authority Khalid Kidwai says nuclear deterrence had helped prevent war in South Asia

Web Desk March 24, 2015
Adviser to NCA Khalid Kidwai says nuclear deterrence had helped prevent war in South Asia. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The Adviser to the National Command Authority Khalid Kidwai said Pakistan needs short-range "tactical" nuclear weapons to deter arch-rival India, Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

"Having tactical weapons would make war less likely," Kidwai said at a conference on nuclear security organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

Kidwai said nuclear deterrence had helped prevent war in South Asia. Pakistan's development of tactical weapons — in the form of the Nasr missile, which has a 60-kilometer range — was, according to Kidwai, in response to concerns that India's larger military could still wage a conventional war against the country, thinking Pakistan would not risk retaliation with a bigger nuclear weapon.

Kidwai has led the administration of Pakistan's nuclear and missile weapons program for 15 years.

During the conference, Kidwai rejected concerns over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, insisting that adequate safeguards are in place to protect what analysts have described as the world's fastest-growing atomic arsenal.

On the sidelines of the conference, former Indian special envoy for disarmament and nonproliferation Rakesh Sood said it was "extremely destabilizing for any country to develop tactical nuclear weapons" and that India has no plans to. He contended that Pakistan's nuclear doctrine is "cloaked in ambiguity" which undermines confidence between the two countries.

Pakistan's development of smaller warheads built for use on battlefields, in addition to longer-range weapons, has increased international concerns that they could get into rogue hands because of the pervasive threat of militants in the country.

Pakistan and India have held on-off peace talks over the years but are involved in a nuclear and missile arms race that shows no sign of abating.

Neither side discloses the size of its arsenal. But a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank estimated that Pakistan has enough fissile material to produce between 110 and 120 nuclear weapons, and India enough for 90 to 110 weapons.

Kidawai said given the strength of the rest of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, the fear of "mutually assured destruction" of the South Asian rivals would ensure that "sanity prevails."

At the other end of Pakistan's missile inventory is the Shaheen-III missile that it test-fired this month. It has a range of 1,700 miles (2,750 kilometers), giving it the capability to reach every part of India — but also potentially to reach into the Middle East, including Israel.

Kidwai added that Pakistan wanted a missile of that range because it suspected India was developing strategic bases on its Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal. He said the nuclear and missile program was "India-specific" and not aimed at other countries.

This article originally appeared on AP.


Marco | 9 years ago | Reply @bechari-awam: Any kind of nuclear weapon used against India or its forces anywhere in the world will lead to India recalling all its forces back and retaliating with full nuclear strike. Pakistan attaining Nuclear weapons is a trap in itself. Pakistan needs to spend large amount of its GDP to create and maintain nuclear weapon, where as the use of all its nuclear weapon does not guarantee annihilation of India, but a nuclear retaliation from India will make Pakistan exist only in History books. The Choice is with Pakistan. The consequence is for Pakistan to bear.
Marco | 9 years ago | Reply @skills: The only defense against India is by eliminating all terrorists from Pakistani soil and talk about the issues. Other than this.... Pakistan is defenseless. Pakistan's offensive weapon of 20th Century (terrorism) has backfired. Wait and see how Pakistan's 21st Century weapon of destruction backfires. India is too big for any kind of weapon Pakistan has. The only weapon of choice for Pakistan should be peace. If India does not attain peace due to terrorists emanating from Pakistan, then Pakistan will never enjoy peace and harmony.
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