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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Looking at China, missing Pakistan New developments in India's nuclear posture vis-a-vis China inevitably impact the Pakistani nuclear program as well. We must recognise this implicit risk in our attempts at military parity with China, writes Firdaus Ahmed. - India's Army Chief commented recently that vertical proliferation by Pakistan was a 'matter of concern'. In the zero-sum game that constitutes India-Pakistan relations, cornering Pakistan in any manner makes sense. Therefore, General Kapoor's negative view of Pakistan's expanding nuclear arsenal is understandable. But upon reflection, it should be clear that the increase in number of nuclear warheads, and the reported shift to plutonium-based weapons should not be a worry - at least for the moment.
The US Congressional Research Service report of 15 May 2009 has brought out that despite having an assessed 60 weapons, "Pakistan continues fissile material production for weapons, and is adding to its weapons production facilities and delivery vehicles". This has been explained as Pakistan's attempt at creating a second strike capability. If this contributes to nuclear stability by enhancing its deterrence against India, it may be a benign development. However, when taken in conjunction with India's own weaponisation, this could equally herald a nuclear arms race.
see for article - http://www.indiatogether.org/2009/jun/fah-trinuke.htm

International treaties
The FMCT and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) are back on the US agenda. President Obama, in his famous Prague speech of April this year, has even unfolded an ambitious disarmament agenda. Presently India is skeptical of these initiatives. It is not known whether India has managed to create the amount of fissile material necessary for the magic figure of warheads considered necessary. There would be thrust to keep the pressure off as long as possible so that India could create the necessary stocks to last it into the indefinite future.
India has promised to participate in the FMCT negotiations and would consider signing on to the CTBT - as indeed it once had seriously done in the late nineties before the treaty was up turned by the US Senate. Since neither of these would transpire any time soon, and the disarmament agenda having been already ruled out by Obama as unlikely in his lifetime, India is not pressured. The stocks created in the interim would be enough for its purposes of being reckoned as a power in league with China. The same logic applies to Pakistan, since it has declared it would follow India into the CTBT, FMCT and improbably indeed also into the Non-Proliferation Treaty!
With India focused on parity with China, the likelihood of an arms race with Pakistan receives less attention. But the nuclear dimension of the India-Pakistan dyad will likely spring a nasty surprise one day, in case any of the crises the two states periodically undergo turns into conflict. For citizens, the safest best would be pressuring the government towards championing the three treaties coming up for discussion in the international domain even while it opens up a meaningful strategic dialogue with Pakistan. This would combine India's current power status with the moral weight of the Nehruvian years at both the international and regional levels - a Great Power alright but with a difference. ⊕
Firdaus Ahmed 20 Jun 2009

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