Pakistan's Nuclear Threshold

Daredevil

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We know from recent reports that Pakistan is fast expanding its nuclear stockpile and currently the warheads range around 100-150. We also know that Pakistan has espoused a low nuclear threshold when it will launch its nuclear arsenal against India with the aim of causing an 'unacceptable damage' in order for the nuke weapons to serve as an adequate deterrent for India to attack Pakistan. I thin the low nuclear threshold has not been discussed in detail here, so I post an analysis on Pakistan's nuclear threshold which will give us something to discuss up on.


A low nuclear threshold?

Pakistan has consistently stated that its nuclear weapons are solely intended to deter military aggression. Officials stress that 'the use of nuclear weapons as a war-fighting tool is not a contemplated doctrine in Pakistani strategic thinking'.

Pakistan has made efforts to think through its nuclear doctrine and to integrate the nuclear dimension into its defence strategy. In 2002 the SPD participated in a joint war game at the National Defence College and strategic force commanders are now invited to participate in the
important Corps Commanders Conference.Pakistan claims that it would only use nuclear weapons in response to conventional attacks by India as a last resort. There have been consistent statements by Pakistani officials since 1987 about the country's nuclear threshold. In 1999 General (and later President) Musharraf said nuclear weapons would only be used if its 'national integrity was threatened' and in 2001 Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai said 'only if the very existence of Pakistan as a state is threatened'. Kidwai described those circumstances in late 2001 as follows.

1. The spatial threshold. The penetration of Indian forces on a large scale would elicit a nuclear response. The threshold could be low (50–100 kilometres) in Kashmir and in Punjab.

2. The military threshold. The destruction of a large part of Pakistani land or air forces could lead to a nuclear response if Pakistan believed that it was losing the cohesiveness of its defence and feared imminent defeat.

3. The economic threshold. Economic strangulation could lead to a nuclear response. This refers primarily to a blockade of Karachi, but could also concern the stopping of the Indus River's water flow, or the capture of vital arteries such as the Indus River and the Karakoram Highway.

4. The political threshold. A destabilization of the country fomented by India could also be a nuclear threshold if Pakistan believed that the integrity of the country was at stake.

Pakistani planners insist that these thresholds are of an indicative nature only, and should not be viewed in isolation from each other. Further, they do not accept suggestions that Pakistan is planning for an early use of nuclear weapons.Some statements have referred to the role of the Pakistani deterrent in discouraging chemical or biological attacks.

However, Pakistan's policy is also in line with the negative security assurances given by nuclear weapon states: it will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries.

Pakistan also threatens nuclear retaliation in case of a preventive or pre-emptive strike. Pakistan told India in 1998 that an attack against its nuclear installations (which are the subject of a non-aggression agreement between the two countries) would elicit 'swift and massive retaliation with unforeseen consequences'. More precisely, the policy amounts to 'deterrence of Pakistan's adversaries from attempting a counter-force strategy against its strategic assets by effectively securing the strategic assets and threatening nuclear retaliation should such an attempt be made'.
This is an excerpt from "Pakistan's Nuclear and Wmd Programmes: Status, Evolution and Risks" by Bruno Tertrais of Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), France.

More analysis can be found here

http://www.nonproliferation.eu/documents/nonproliferationpapers/brunotertrais5010305e17790.pdf
 

A chauhan

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A sword in a monkey's hand :dude: their nuclear installations must be destroyed, it's a danger to the peace of whole world !
 

Bhadra

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That is what Chauahan has said.It is better to have wise enemies than foolish Friend.
In the India Pakistan context there are many fools like Zaid Hamid ( by the way he has a large following In Pak Army). Their basic idea is to kill Hindus and subjugate India. They do not necessarily follow logic. Pakistan Army Generals themselves are living examples of irrational behavior (Kargil types)

So the foolish monkey may wield the sword and cut throat of the king thinking it is saving him from a fly.
Pakistanies are quite capable of initiating a nuclear strike to terrorize Hindu Bania but in that process bring down a nuclear holocaust upon the subcontinent.
 

Yusuf

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Paksitans low threshold theory is a bluff. Sooner India realized that the better.
 

blank_quest

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one serious note ... if you want to kill the bird .... think like a bird.. Pakistan Nuclear Policy can be easily countered.

Scenario

1. Just the right mix of push is needed to keep Pakistan overspending for maintaining Nuclear Edge.( Hope Pakistan is not suicidal or else it will fall under its own weight.)

2 In turn that will burden Pakistan with security issues of Nuclear Weaponry. More Human resource will be needed to be diverted/deployed for securing the nuclear weapons.

3. Financial burden will crumple the Govt. credibility and economic mismanagement with less spending on developmental work and more on revenue non-plan expenditure.it will lead to fiscal deficit leading to inflation and will increase the social-gap thus creating dissatisfaction among common people.

4. International embargo and sanctions will bind Pakistan.

5. Danger of Nuclear footprints to be exposed to internal as well as external forces that will lead to the erosion of "advantage" of "head start" and endanger its own existance.

whatever will Pakistan do .. it has to be within the threshold of "rationality" for the "Number of Nuclear Weapons" . It can't keep adding arsenals recklessly and mindlessly . Else it will lead to existential threat "This way or That way" it will be like being b/w "devil and the deep sea"...:pound:
 
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Given the following scenarios I think Pakistan has a ow nuclear threshold:

1. The spatial threshold. The penetration of Indian forces on a large scale would elicit a nuclear response. The threshold could be low (50–100 kilometres) in Kashmir and in Punjab.

Kashmir conflict started when neither country were nuclear. Given that India has overwhelming conventional
military strength . This could mean that a loss in the Kashmir conflict would have Pakistan resorting to nukes.
If Pakistan was genuinely concerned about Kashmiris why not open up immigration and give Kashmiris Pakistani
citizenship?


2. The military threshold. The destruction of a large part of Pakistani land or air forces could lead to a nuclear response if Pakistan believed that it was losing the cohesiveness of its defence and feared imminent defeat.

After 4 wars the final solution has become restorting to blackmail. Interesting that losing the
Kargil conflict did not have Pakistann resorting to nuclear weapons. Any future major wars
may have India target Pakistani nuclear assets first then conduct major military operations.
Using the cold start doctrine of blitzkrieg type attack it would leave Pakistan with 72 hours to
decide if they want to press the nuclear button.

3. The economic threshold. Economic strangulation could lead to a nuclear response. This refers primarily to a blockade of Karachi, but could also concern the stopping of the Indus River's water flow, or the capture of vital arteries such as the Indus River and the Karakoram Highway.

Indus river treaty violations are an ongoing dispute with many dams being built Pakistan has made
threats to destroy Indian dams with nukes.


4. The political threshold. A destabilization of the country fomented by India could also be a nuclear threshold if Pakistan believed that the integrity of the country was at stake.

If India is accused of helping Taliban overthrown the already destabilized Pakistani govt.
would they press the nuclear button?

Making nuclear threats and using them are 2 different things. Pakistan's main nuclear delivery
systems are SCUD based ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. With cruise missile there is no
evidence Pakistan has miniturized nukes to a point they can be placed on cruise missiles. Even
if they did it would weaker than most tactical nukes probably in a few kiloton range? None of Pakistan's
missiles fly faster than mach 3 they would be tracked and intercepted fairly easily. Using F-16's
to deliver nukes has been another threat used in the past a F-16 most like would not be able to carry
a ballistic missile most likely limited to low kiloton cruise missile would be used. The other question
would be penetrating Indian air space with an F-16 carrying nukes the RCS would be enormous and
easily picked up by AWACS.

Even if Pakistan has a low nuclear threshold their delivery systems cannot match their bravado.
I have not discussed nuclear retaliation by India which has a completed nuclear triad.
 
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Yusuf

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Pak nuke march is based on the following thinking.

1) Blackmail India. Continue the terror campaign and brandish the nukes to prevent any retaliation. Op Parakram and 26/11 come to mind as glaring examples
2) keep its relevance in the world scheme. The west will not brush aside a nation will 150 nukes. Pakistan otherwise is inconsequential in world matters.
3) Blackmail the world too. Build so many and then say we may lose a few to the terrorists. This helps them from say US supporting Balochistan.

Pakistsn can't call it's nuclear arsenal a "deterrent" if it wants to use it first. The nuke is no longer a deterrent if it's used.
 

Zarvin

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Hi

I don't believe any country has an actual no first use policy, all countries will use their nuclear assets at some point whether they declare it or not. All nuclear powers have their nuclear threshold.
That being said, I don't know how any of this refers to Afghanistan who can't defeat us in conventional warfare--- all points mentioned actually referred to an Indian invasion scenario.


Well the situation in 2001 is quite different to know, that was 11 years ago with Mushy as president, and heightened tensions of Kargil .9/11 and so on. The report also mentions

In 2005 Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
claimed that Pakistan had reached the threshold of
minimum deterrence; .
Let's not assume that the situation is the same as then and we don't have a stronger nuclear deterrence, and conversely an increasingly unlikely situation that we are attacked.
If anything, we should be looking to solve all our problems diplomatically and not through warfare, conventional or otherwise.
 

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