- Apr 5, 2009
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.
More analysis can be found here
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.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'.
More analysis can be found here