Pak improving nuclear weapons

Feb 16, 2009
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Pak improving nuclear weapons: US report: India Today - Latest Breaking News from India, World, Business, Cricket, Sports, Bollywood.

Pak improving nuclear weapons

is making qualitative and quantitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal, said a US Congressional report.

According to the report Pakistan could increase the number of circumstances under which it would use atomic weapons to target India.

Maintaining that Islamabad's nuclear arsenal consists of approximately 60 atomic weapons, the Congressional Research Service's (CRS) latest report, said this number could be even larger.

Another report released last week had claimed that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was inching towards 100.

The CRS, an independent bipartisan research wing of the US Congress, said that such an indication has come officially directly from the Pakistan government.

It noted that a Foreign Ministry spokesperson indicated during a May 21 press briefing that despite the government's continued opposition to a "nuclear or conventional arms race in South Asia", Pakistan may need to increase its nuclear arsenal in response to Indian conventional and nuclear arms expansion.

Illustrating this point, the CRS report, entitled 'Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues' said a Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson reacted to India's July 26 launch of its first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine.

The spokesperson asserted that "continued induction of new lethal weapon systems by India is detrimental to regional peace and stability".

"Without entering into an arms race with India, Pakistan will take all appropriate steps to safeguard its security and maintain strategic balance in South Asia," the report quoted the Pakistan spokesperson as saying.

The report also stated that by making qualitative and quantitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal, Pakistan could increase the number of circumstances under which it would be willing to use nuclear weapons against India.

For example, senior security analyst Peter Lavoy has argued that India's efforts to improve its conventional military capabilities could enable New Delhi to achieve "technical superiority" in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as precision targeting, providing India with "the capability to effectively locate and efficiently destroy strategically important targets in Pakistan".

Islamabad could respond by lowering the threshold for using nuclear weapons, according to Lavoy.

Indeed, a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned in May that Islamabad could take this step, the report said.

The CRS report said Pakistan has pledged no first use against non-nuclear weapon states, but has not ruled out first use against a nuclear-armed "aggressor".

This may be an indirect reference to India, the report added.

Some analysts say this ambiguity serves to maintain deterrence against India's conventional superiority.

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