Pakistan and the Bomb - 11 years After.

Singh

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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
 

Auberon

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

Auberon

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

Pintu

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

Regards
 

Auberon

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seismic data said it was higher here is the link of 4.7
Defying world powers, N. Korea conducts nuke test - Yahoo! News
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
 
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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.
 

Antimony

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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:

When the (plutonium) device is built correctly (the earliest technology used a sphere with precisely timed explosions to press an array of small plutonium masses into one critical mass), the yield is 10-20 kilotons. It's unlikely that North Korea has skipped this step and gone on to more sophisticated designs that involve other elements (for instance, tritium) to generate a smaller yield from a smaller plutonium mass. China didn't. Its tests grew in size and sophistication in the 1980s and 1990s until Beijing induced seismic events that registered higher than 6 on the Richter scale. Then they stopped.
Conclusion:
North Korea tried and failed to get a simple plutonium bomb to detonate correctly. Make no mistake--an inefficient nuclear weapon is nothing to dismiss. Even at the low end of its estimated yield (2 kilotons), the May 25 test released as much or more explosive energy than the largest conventional-explosive air raids during World War II. But one should be mindful of the technical challenges North Korea still faces in carrying out the threats implied by its deliberate pairing of its explosive test with test missile launches.
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?
 

p2prada

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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 ;)
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.
 
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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??
 

Antimony

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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.
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.
 

Ray

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Pakistan and the Bomb

Written by Bruce Riedel
Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Whose finger is on the button? Pakistan parades its nuclear capable missile, while the West worries about its growing stockpile


A shaky state is building nuclear weapons at a frightening rate

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world. The arsenal is well protected, concealed and dispersed. The Pakistani army makes every effort to deny information about the locations of its weapons out of fear of any falling into enemy hands, especially American hands.


The army is ready to use its nukes to defend their country, holding onto the national deterrent against any foreign threat. But the international community questions Pakistani control: Are the nukes safe from Pakistan's own home-grown opponents?

The assassination of Salman Taseer – the governor of Pakistan's largest province, Punjab – by his own bodyguard raises serious new questions about the process of vetting key employees in the Pakistani security infrastructure. And there's compelling reports that Pakistan is prepared to share its weapons with its closest ally, Saudi Arabia, if Riyadh feels threatened by Iran.

The Pakistani nuclear button is in the control of the country's military leaders. The democratically elected leadership has only nominal authority over them. If the country fell into the wrong hands, those of the militant Islamic jihadism and Al Qaeda, so would the arsenal. The United States and the rest of the world would face the worst security threat since the Cold War.

Pakistan is a unique nuclear weapons state. It's been the recipient of proliferation technology transfers, by theft (from the Netherlands) and from others (China), and it's been a supplier as well (North Korea, Iran, Libya). Pakistan has been a state sponsor of proliferation and tolerated private-sector proliferation as well. As a weapons state it has engaged in highly provocative behavior against its neighbor India, even initiating a limited war in 1999, and its intelligence service, the ISI, has sponsored terrorist groups that have engaged in mass-casualty terrorism inside India's cities, most famously in Mumbai, November 2008.


Pakistan's fourth military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, created a Strategic Plans Division (SPD) in the army to provide security for the arsenal. Its director, Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, has lectured across the world on the extensive security layers developed by the SPD, for facilities and personnel to prevent unauthorized activity by those overseeing protection of the weapons. The US has provided expertise to the SPD to help ensure security, but is kept at arms length from facilities and personnel. Pakistanis don't trust Washington's intentions.

Former deputy of the SPD, Brigadier General Feroz Khan, noted that Pakistan had up to 120 nuclear warheads, as reported by the Washington Post in December 2007. Since then Pakistan has brought new reactors on line and undoubtedly produced more. Pakistan can deliver its weapons by both intermediate-range missiles and jet aircraft, including American-supplied F16s. The bombs and the delivery systems are dispersed around a country twice the size of California, often buried deep underground.

The SPD personnel vetting process has been largely an enigma to outsiders. The ISI, which monitors military loyalty, does the bulk of the vetting. And so the assassination of Taseer by his own Elite Force bodyguard, who was angered at Taseer's support for efforts to amend Pakistan's blasphemy laws that impose death for any anti-Islamic statements, raises questions about the vetting process. According to the Pakistani press, the assassin had a track record of sympathy for extremist Islam, yet also guarded the president or prime minister 18 times during the last three years and was assigned to guard two foreign dignitaries, unnamed, before he shot the governor, according to the Associated Press.

If bodyguards for the leadership are not properly vetted, how well protected are the arsenals? We simply don't know.

Of course, if Pakistan becomes a jihadist state, then the extremists inherit the arsenal. A jihadist takeover is neither imminent nor inevitable, but it's a real possibility. After all, one of Pakistan's four previous military dictators, Zia ul Haq, was a jihadist and turned the country radically toward extremist Islam.

In this scenario, the international community could issue calls to "secure" Pakistan's nuclear weapons, but since no outsider knows where most are located, such calls would be a hollow threat. Even if force was used to capture some of the weapons, Pakistan would retain most and the expertise to build more. Finally Pakistan would use its weapons to defend itself.

Pakistan may also continue to contribute to nuclear proliferation. There are persistent, but unverified, reports of an understanding between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for Islamabad to provide nuclear weapons to Riyadh if the Saudis feel threatened by a third party with nuclear weapons. Then Saudi defense minister and now also Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud visited Pakistan's laboratories amid great publicity in the late 1990s. Some sensationalist reports claim the Saudis keep aircraft permanently deployed in Pakistan to rush a bomb or two to Riyadh if needed. Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia deny any secret deal, but rumors continue to surface as Iran moves closer to developing its own bomb.

US policy toward Pakistan in general and the Pakistani bombs in particular has oscillated wildly over the last 30 years between blind enchantment and unsuccessful isolation. President Ronald Reagan turned a blind eye to the program in the 1980s because he needed Zia and the ISI to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. President George H.W. Bush sanctioned Pakistan for building the bomb in 1990; President Bill Clinton added more sanctions after the 1998 tests. Both had no choice as Congress had passed legislation tying their hands.

George W. Bush lifted the sanctions after the 9/11 attacks and poured billions of dollars into the Pakistani army, much of it unaccounted for, in return for Pakistan's help again in Afghanistan. Bush's civilian nuclear deal with India in 2005 left many Pakistanis angry at what they view as a double standard that gives India access to technology denied to Pakistan.

President Barack Obama has inherited a full agenda with Pakistan, burdened by the war in Afghanistan, the hunt for Al Qaeda and internal crisis inside Pakistan. But the nuclear issue will not go away. Obama's call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pursuit of Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will inevitably mean arms control will return to the US-Pakistan agenda. Islamabad already presses for a civil nuclear deal like India's, but there is virtually no chance of such a deal. The international community and the Congress would oppose it given Pakistan's history of proliferation.

In the meantime Americans should stay away from idle talk in newspaper op-eds and elsewhere about "securing" Pakistan's weapons by force. Such chatter is not only unrealistic, but counterproductive and poisons the atmosphere for serious work with Pakistan on nuclear security. General Khan rightly called it "very dangerous." It gives the jihadists further ammunition for their charge that the United States, in cahoots with India and Israel, secretly plans to disarm the only Muslim state with a bomb.

Now the entire relationship is threatened by the case of Raymond Davis, a US diplomat accused of murdering two Pakistanis in Lahore. Washington wants him freed citing diplomatic immunity, many Pakistanis demand his trial in Pakistan. Some in Congress want to cut aid, which will only antagonize Pakistanis more.

The US needs a policy toward Pakistan and its weapons that emphasizes constancy, consistency and an end to double standards. Increasingly, people in Pakistan recognize that the existential threat to their freedoms comes from within, from jihadists like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, not from India or America. Now is the time to help them and ensure a rational hand is on the nuclear arsenal.

Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in the Brookings Institution. A former CIA officer, he chaired President Barack Obama's strategic review of policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2009. Reprinted with permission from the Yale Center on Globalization
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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