Pakistan and the Bomb - 11 years After.

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by Singh, May 28, 2009.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Once upon a time making nuclear bombs was the biggest thing a country could do. But not any more; North Korea’s successful nuclear test provides rock-solid proof. This is a country that no one admires.

    It is unknown for scientific achievement, has little electricity or fuel, food and medicine are scarce, corruption is ubiquitous, and its people live in terribly humiliating conditions under a vicious, dynastic dictatorship. In a famine some years ago, North Korea lost nearly 800,000 people. It has an enormous prison population of 200,000 that is subjected to systematic torture and abuse.

    Why does a miserable, starving country continue spending its last penny on the bomb? On developing and testing a fleet of missiles whose range increases from time to time? The answer is clear: North Korea’s nuclear weapons are instruments of blackmail rather than means of defence. Brandished threateningly, and manipulated from time to time, these bombs are designed to keep the flow of international aid going.

    Surely the people of North Korea gained nothing from their country’s nuclearisation. But they cannot challenge their oppressors. But, as Pakistan celebrates the 11th anniversary of its nuclear tests, we Pakistanis — who are far freer — must ask: what have we gained from the bomb?

    Some had imagined that nuclear weapons would make Pakistan an object of awe and respect internationally. They had hoped that Pakistan would acquire the mantle of leadership of the Islamic world. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 1998 tests, Pakistan’s stock had shot up in some Muslim countries before it crashed. But today, with a large swathe of its territory lost to insurgents, one has to defend Pakistan against allegations of being a failed state. In terms of governance, economy, education or any reasonable quality of life indicators, Pakistan is not a successful state that is envied by anyone.

    Contrary to claims made in 1998, the bomb did not transform Pakistan into a technologically and scientifically advanced country. Again, the facts are stark. Apart from relatively minor exports of computer software and light armaments, science and technology remain irrelevant in the process of production. Pakistan’s current exports are principally textiles, cotton, leather, footballs, fish and fruit.

    This is just as it was before Pakistan embarked on its quest for the bomb. The value-added component of Pakistani manufacturing somewhat exceeds that of Bangladesh and Sudan, but is far below that of India, Turkey and Indonesia. Nor is the quality of science taught in our educational institutions even remotely satisfactory. But then, given that making a bomb these days requires only narrow technical skills rather than scientific ones, this is scarcely surprising.

    What became of the claim that the pride in the bomb would miraculously weld together the disparate peoples who constitute Pakistan? While many in Punjab still want the bomb, angry Sindhis want water and jobs — and they blame Punjab for taking these away. Pakhtun refugees from Swat and Buner, hapless victims of a war between the Taliban and the Pakistani Army, are tragically being turned away by ethnic groups from entering Sindh. This rejection strikes deeply against the concept of a single nation united in adversity.

    As for the Baloch, they deeply resent that the two nuclear test sites — now radioactive and out of bounds — are on their soil. Angry at being governed from Islamabad, many have taken up arms and demand that Punjab’s army get off their backs. Many schools in Balochistan refuse to fly the Pakistani flag, the national anthem is not sung, and black flags celebrate Pakistan’s independence day. Balochistan University teems with the icons of Baloch separatism: posters of Akbar Bugti, Balaach Marri, Brahamdagh Bugti, and ‘General Sheroff’ are everywhere. The bomb was no glue.

    Did the bomb help Pakistan liberate Kashmir from Indian rule? It is a sad fact that India’s grip on Kashmir — against the will of Kashmiris — is tighter today than it has been for a long time. As the late Eqbal Ahmed often remarked, Pakistan’s poor politics helped snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Its strategy for confronting India — secret jihad by Islamic fighters protected by Pakistan’s nuclear weapons — backfired terribly in the arena of international opinion. More importantly, it created the hydra-headed militancy now haunting Pakistan. Some Mujahideen, who felt betrayed by Pakistan’s army and politicians, ultimately took revenge by turning their guns against their sponsors and trainers. The bomb helped us lose Kashmir.

    Some might ask, didn’t the bomb stop India from swallowing up Pakistan? First, an upward-mobile India has no reason to want an additional 170 million Muslims. Second, even if India wanted to, territorial conquest is impossible. Conventional weapons, used by Pakistan in a defensive mode, are sufficient protection. If mighty America could not digest Iraq, there can never be a chance for a middling power like India to occupy Pakistan, a country four times larger than Iraq.

    It is, of course, true that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons deterred India from launching punitive attacks at least thrice since the 1998 tests. Pakistan’s secret incursion in Kargil during 1999, the Dec 13 attack on the Indian parliament the same year (initially claimed by Jaish-i-Muhammad), and the Mumbai attack in 2008 by Lashkar-i-Taiba, did create sentiment in India for ferreting out Pakistan-based militant groups. So should we keep the bomb to protect militant groups? Surely it is time to realise that these means of conducting foreign policy are tantamount to suicide.

    It was a lie that the bomb could protect Pakistan, its people or its armed forces. Rather, it has helped bring us to this grievously troubled situation and offers no way out. The threat to Pakistan is internal. The bomb cannot help us recover the territory seized by the Baitullahs and Fazlullahs, nor bring Waziristan back to Pakistan. More nuclear warheads, test-launching more missiles, or buying yet more American F-16s and French submarines, will not help.

    Pakistan’s security problems cannot be solved by better weapons. Instead, the way forward lies in building a sustainable and active democracy, an economy for peace rather than war, a federation in which provincial grievances can be effectively resolved, elimination of the feudal order and creating a society that respects the rule of law.

    It is time for Pakistan to become part of the current global move against nuclear weapons. India — which had thrust nuclearisation upon an initially unwilling Pakistan — is morally obliged to lead. Both must announce that they will not produce more fissile material to make yet more bombs. Both must drop insane plans to expand their nuclear arsenals. Eleven years ago a few Pakistanis and Indians had argued that the bomb would bring no security, no peace. They were condemned as traitors and sellouts by their fellow citizens. But each passing year shows just how right we were. The writer teaches nuclear physics at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

    DAWN.COM | Pakistan | Another nuclear anniversary
     
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  3. Auberon

    Auberon Regular Member

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    Didn't read beyond the second line. What successful NK nuke test, I thought they were all duds :-?
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    last one was a success.
     
  5. Auberon

    Auberon Regular Member

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    Thanks, link?
     
  6. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    auberon it's been in the news for days, time to sober up.
     
  7. Auberon

    Auberon Regular Member

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    +1

    Is that the 1.5 kt one then?
     
  8. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    4.7 on the reichter scale 10-20kt by Russia USA claims lower. 3.3.
     
  9. Auberon

    Auberon Regular Member

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    I was under the impression that 20kt was the expected yield, the actual test was a failure, yielded 1.5 kt, thats why people said its a dud ;)
     
  10. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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  11. Pintu

    Pintu New Member

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    A nice article from a neutral point of view unusual from across the border.

    Regards
     
  12. johnee

    johnee Elite Member Elite Member

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  13. Auberon

    Auberon Regular Member

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    Thats on the 25th, the estimates seem to be getting lower with time, from 20 to 2 -

    Asia Times Online :: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News

    On the 26th Bulletin of Atomic Scientists estimated the lower end of the yield to be 2kt and the test a failure - The North Korean nuclear test: What the seismic data says | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
     
  14. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Auberon they have to report it as failure because Obama has no clue how to respond, other than getting countries together BS'ing and making it look good, north korea has a plutonium based program a highly advanced program, compared to others like pakistan uranium based.
     
  15. Antimony

    Antimony Regular Member

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    Report from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

    Looking for a possible explanation

    The North Korean nuclear test: What the seismic data says | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

    This seems a likely explanation:

    Conclusion:
    Long story short:
    1. NK went for a PU based design, more complicated than a U235 based design
    2. A successful PU test would have a minimum yield of 10-20 KT. This one had an yield of 2 KT
    3. Explanation: The device initiated but then somehow failed

    This is still a bigger bang than most conventional weapons, but needlessly escalates tensions while achieving results that may be achived with a large amount of conventional HE.

    More importantly, what are they going to fit it on?
     
  16. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    on their tapedong and dingdongs
     
  17. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Enough to make a nice hole in Seoul. The fact is any kind of capability is a threat. If NK has been able to enrich Plutonium enough to make 1.5Kt, it's a big deal.

    How long will it take for NK to make a usable bomb now? They will have to work on the trigger and polish their methods, that's all. Give it another 5 years and they will have 2 or 3 bombs, maybe more if their best friend sends a Christmas gift.
     
  18. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    if it's a failure then future improved tests will follow, but the world needs to realize that their program is Plutonium based making it a more advanced program only help from other countries would allow this kind of program, any guess which country??
     
  19. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Taiwan:D

    I think we know:p
     
  20. Antimony

    Antimony Regular Member

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    Some key questions:

    1. What are they going to fit them on? As LF said, their Tapedongs (the dingdongs may be a bit too small:wink:)
    Here is an assessment of the NK missile program.

    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | North Korea's missile programme

    Their short range scuds (for S. Korea) handles only xconventional warheads. Their med range nodongs (for Japan) are wildly inaccurate. Their longer range Taepodongs (for Okinawa) either take a long time to prepare or fall apart and have smaller payloads to boot

    2. So say they used a Pu based nuke to punch a small hole in Seoul (using I don't know what), something that a large load of HE could have achieved. They have wasted a nuke and they have crossed the nuclear threshold. Since S. Korea is under the US umbrella, instant sunshine for N. Korea

    I am not saying that this a threat to be taken lightly. But duds mounted on duds do not seem like an actual imminent threat. The perceived threat, however, is a different thing.
     
  21. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    It requires no elaboration that Pakistan is a most unstable country with the Army hand in glove with the fundamentalists.

    The erratic manner in which Pakistan exists is indeed a matter of concern.

    One wonders what can be done to ensure that the nukes are kept under saner hands.
     

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