The Pakistani Horn’s Nukes Are Not Safe and Secure: Revelation 8

nuclear weapons in pakistan
Representative photo

Chaos in Pakistan: Are the nuclear weapons safe and secure?

 Lt. Gen. PR Kumar (Retd.)

June 3, 2023

Prevailing Unstable Environment in Pakistan: If events were not so tragic, the fast moving violent, dynamic, unpredictable politico-social drama being enacted in Pakistan would appear to be ‘comic-action film’ on TV. Nevertheless, being a transactional, impersonal world, people are watching with great interest and unfortunately great amusement. But, a nuclear crisis is certainly no laughing matter, and powers that be will do well to plan and be ready for all contingencies.

The situation is exacerbated by the rivalry and obvious power games between the military, judiciary and executive, with Imran Khan as the ‘invincible, highly popular action hero’. Lost in the turmoil and violence, is the constant fear about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons ecosystem – the warheads, the missiles, delivery vehicles (land, air, sea, undersea), the readymade, high grade, unused fissile material, communication systems and aspects like security of the launch codes. I am quite sure that the heads of governments of specifically USA, China and India and their national security advisors (NSAs), and intelligence agencies must be having sleepless nights. The contingency plans to be put into operation for securing the nuclear assets must be getting finetuned. Why specially these three; USA the superpower still fighting global war on terrorism (GWOT) and wants to keep the nuclear club exclusive with no additions, China with her Xinjiang and fundamentalist elements despite Pakistan being her client state (like North Korea), and India, Pakistan’s arch rival for eternity. At the outset it is important to highlight that the two most relevant but worrying aspects are, whether effective state control would be asserted at all times, and whether there are conditions where weapons could be used without due authorisation?; secondly, how to prevent subversion and theft both of physical nuclear assets and technical and communication details, including launch codes, by the very people who are guarding/protecting it. Pakistan’s capability and capacity to protect their nuclear assets along with a historical perspective, followed by contingencies in case the international powers need to intervene has been analysed. This article has used credible open source material [i].

Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal:Pakistan currently has 170 nuclear warheads, and claims a triad status which indicates the capacity to launch from land, air and sea. Details of her assets are listed below:

SourceBulletin of Atomic Scientists

Notes:          

  • Experts believe that Pakistan could well be the world’s fourth-largest nuclear weapon state; with a stockpile of some 350 warheads in a decade (2030).
  • Air: Apart from Mirage III and V, Pakistan can also deploy F-16s (24) and Chinese J 17s (186 in pipeline) for nuclear delivery.
  • Sea:    abur III, range 470 kms; deployed on the air-independent-diesel-electric Agosta class submarines (ordered 8; deployed 4?); some Babur IIIs are pre-mated for second strike capability.
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapon (TNW):NASR/HATF 9 has a range of 60 k.m. only, most probably pre-mated, some deployed with forward troops, and possibly under command and control of HQs at operational level (Corps HQ); raising the probability and its vulnerability of misuse/rogue use/panic use, and finding its way in wrong hands including terrorist organisations; and starting a nuclear Armageddon. In 2016 Obama said, “Battlefield nuclear weapons, by their very nature, pose [a] security threat because you’re taking battlefield nuclear weapons to the field where, as you know, as a necessity, they cannot be made as secure”.
  • Pak does not possess enough launchers compared to the warheads it holds; and

all launchers are dual capable!

Nuclear Policy: Pakistan boasts of ‘full spectrum deterrence capability’. Policy similar to NATOs ‘flexible response strategy’, with threat of use when her red lines/threshold will be crossed without explicitly spelling it out. Pakistan claims that she has a formal policy which is classified, and believes that ambiguity adds to the value of deterrence.

Source: Taylor and Francis Online (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14751798.2023.2178069)

Command and Control of Nuclear Assets: The apex body which exercises command and control is the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) headed by the PM, with the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) under a three-star army general, which is responsible for the protection of its tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile, and the strategic assets. Special Response Force (SRF) is the special forces unitof SPD Force with the strength of 25 to 28000 personnel which secures the assets. The selection standards in terms of intelligence and physical standards for the force are even higher than army due to very sensitive nature of their duty. After initial training in army training establishments, they are now trained in Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS), located in Chakri near Rawalpindi. Training is modelled on US National Nuclear Security academy.

Regarding Pakistan, it will be fair and reasonable to assume, that the military (COAS) would have the final and decisive vote for exercising the nuclear option.

International Opinion and Observations on Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) Pakistan : Ashley J. Tellis in his book (Striking Assymetries: Nuc Transitions in Southern Asia) says Pakistan is building “the largest, most diversified, and most capable nuclear arsenal possible”, which is endorsed by Peter Lavoy, a US intelligence officer. The Trump administration’s South Asia strategy in 2017 urged Pakistan to stop sheltering terrorist organizations, and noted the need to “prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists”. President Biden in Oct 2022 said ““Pakistan “may be one of the most dangerous” countries in the world having “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.

Deployment/Location of Nuclear Assets:

Note:  Areas shown as Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas are an integral part of India (map not to scale)

Even when nations proclaim transparency, as exists(ed) between USA and Russia, regarding holdings and deployment of nuclear assets, in terms of agreements (SALT II, which now stands abrogated/suspended), there is always uncertainty and ambiguity regarding accuracy of details, especially when most delivery mechanisms are dual-capable (can fire both conventional and nuclear warheads) and also co-located which is a new dangerous trend followed specially by China and Pakistan. US aggressive anti-nuclear stance against North Korea is mainly because she can never be 100% sure of deployment of nuclear assets, thus not confident of knocking them out in a ‘first strike’ if ever the need arises. However, Pakistan nuclear assets locations are known to a fair degree of certainty, both due to diligence and ISR by the big powers, specially USA, as also with an existing agreement between India and Pakistan[ii] to notify each other. Details of known locations are placed below:

  • Fissile Mtrl Production Complex – Pakistan has a well-established and diverse fissile material production complex that is expanding at Kahuta, enrichment plant at Gadwal North of Islamabad. Four heavy water plutonium reactors in Khushab and thermal power plant (helps in estimation of production of fissile material). A new Reprocessing plant at Nilore, E of Islamabad, and second at Chatham in NW Punjab processing spent fuel and extracts plutonium.
  • Fissile Mtrl – In 2020, the International Panel on Fissile Materials estimated that Pakistan had an inventory of approximately 3,900 kilograms of weapon-grade (90 percent enriched) highly enriched uranium (HEU), and about 410 kg of weapon-grade plutonium. This material is theoretically enough to produce between 285 and 342 warheads.Pakistan uses tritium to boost fission process and reduce size of warhead. Possesses 690 gms, enough to boost over 100 weapons. Most short range missiles like NASR, Abdali, Babur, Ra-‘ad will need small, lightweight tritium boosted fission warhead.
  • Production of Msl and Mob Lrs – National Defence Complex at Kala Chitta Dahr mountain range West of Islamabad with two sections;
  • West – development, production, test launching of missiles and rocket engines;
    • East – production and assembly of road mobile transporter erector launchers (TELs)
    • Some launcher and missile-related production and maintenance facilities may be located near Tarnawa and Taxila.
  • Warhead Production- Pak Ord Factories near Wah, NW of Islamabad.

Safety and Security of Nuclear Assets

Pakistan has put in place all safeguards expected from an NWS and as per international norms of IAEA’s Nuclear Security Strategy (NSS)[iii]. During late 2000 a US report stated “we’re, I think, fairly confident that they have the proper structures and safeguards in place to maintain the integrity of their nuclear forces and not to allow any compromise”. The SPD is the institutional link between civilian and military facilities. Pakistani sites have three “rings” of security. The first is within each facility itself with SPD personnel responsible for physical searches, Nuclear Media Acess Control (NMAC)[iv] protocols; while the second ring is formed of physical means (limited Access Areas, physical barriers). Outside of each site, the third ring of security is provided by a wider counter intelligence effort. Being aware of the dangers of subversion, NCA has put in place a very rigid system of vetting regularly; different for scientists, civilian staff and military personnel. Screening involves four of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. Some important measures incorporated are:

  • The National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has become an IAEA collaborating centre for Nuclear Security Education, Training and Technical Support in Oct 2022.
  • Working with the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in different areas. The GICNT is an international partnership intended to improve international capacity for prevention, detection, and response to nuclear terrorism, particularly the acquisition, transport, or use of nuclear and radiological materials.
  • Advanced-level training in American National Laboratories and applied it to improve the overall security practices in the country. 

Additional measures in terms of equipment enhancement are:

  • Specially trained – as per IAEA and Nuclear Security Series.
  • Permissive Action Links[v] (PAL) –electronic codes.
  • Special theft and tamper-proof vehicles and containers are also used.
  • SPD and PNRA operate radiational detection portal monitors at nuclear sites.
  • Contingency planning.
  • All round and fool proof communications.
  • Nuclear Security Emergency Coordination Centre (NuSECC) in Islamabad.
  • Mobile Radiological Monitoring Laboratory (MRML) established.

Historical Statistics and Vulnerabilities:But impressions, reputation and opinions has gone steadily downhill in the last decade, more due to the socio-politico-unstable internal security situation, rise of political Islam and fundamentalism, Pakistan’s unrelenting dalliance with terrorist organisations, which has come back to bite them like the proverbial snake. There are credible intelligence reports that Al Qaeda, IS, TTP have shown renewed interest in acquiring both warhead, fissile material and technology. The two main constant and real worries are theft (material and intellectual) as also ‘insider operations.

The latest mob violence on Imran Khans arrest, has ignited violence and instability, and specter of even civil war. There are worrying reports of dissension within the Army ranks, both within the highest (rift between COAS, CJSC, Corps Commanders), middle and lower echelons; reports of mutinies in old established army units; soldiers abandoning their posts and duties, increasing insubordination which should cause grave apprehension regarding the safety and security of nuclear assets. If the most disciplined force can be beset with insubordination and desertion, the paramilitary, intelligence agencies and most importantly the personnel manning the security protocol of nuclear assets are equally susceptible. The vulnerability is not only physical theft of warheads and fissile material, but technical data and electronic codes which can operationalize the weapons and missile systems. In the current unrest and fragile security environment ‘when it is time to implement the harshest security measures, is ironically the time when it is at its most vulnerable to subversion and theft. Some historical lapses concerning security of nuclear assets are listed below: –

  • In November 2007, suicide attack killed seven PAF staff travelling between Mushaf Mir Airbase and the Central Ammunition Depot, Sargodha. Both sites have been associated with Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
  • A double bombing in August 2008 killed 64 people in Wah Cantt. One explosion took place outside the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF), which is believed to house the Gadwal Enrichment Plant.
  • In July 2009, a bus carrying KRL workers was attacked by a suicide bomber at Chor Chowk, Peshawar Road.
  • In October 2009, the Minhas air force base in Kamra was attacked. The site is widely assessed to host Pakistani nuclear weapons, although the attacker is reported to have detonated a bomb at “a checkpoint on a road leading to the complex,” rather than the base itself.
  • The biggest of them all; AQ Khan both stealing sensitive information from the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory, a subcontractor to the URENCO enrichment consortium, and then going on to sell indigenised versions of that technology to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.
  • Subversion at the highest level revealed when Lieutenant General (retired) Javed Iqbal and Brigadier (retired) Raja Rizwan who received 14 years’ imprisonment and the death penalty, respectively for nuclear espionage.
  • Note: – If staff can be identified for attack, they may also be coerced into becoming “insiders. Insiders have been a real concern to Pakistani authorities.

Scenario Building and Recommendations.   

  • Pakistan will obviously remain the first responder for most contingencies, and is expected to act immediately and decisively in case of theft of warhead or fissile material, or loss of critical technological information; assuming the command and control of nuclear assets is still intact and not broken (contingencies like civilian and/or military control, or break up of both is a realistic probability). They are expected to act responsibly and alert the international community immediately specially the ‘Three’ (USA, China and India the immediate neighbour), and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • In case, the UN and world body led by USA and China feel that there exists conditions where the nuclear assets are NOT under the command and control of any responsible body, be it the civil or military, and safety and security of the assets are compromised, and real and present threat to them exists (terrorists, breakaway military leader/group(s) and rogue elements); there is a need for physical intervention to secure them, with or without the sanction/permission of Pakistan authorities. The current scenario does warrant planning and coordinating for such a contingency specially by the ‘Three’.
  • In the eventuality of the above, and if the unstable situation of a civil war like situation persists, there is a case of following a variation of the Ukraine model* with Pakistan. Pakistan naturally will be loath to give up her nuclear assets. The process will take time, but the world cannot afford to have the spectre of a Nuclear Armageddon hanging over its head all the time.

*Note: When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, there were thousands of former Soviet nuclear warheads, as well as hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers, left on Ukraine’s territory (some in Belarus and Kazakhstan too), which they decided to transfer to Russia. Ukraine never had an independent nuclear weapons arsenal, or control over these weapons, but agreed to remove former Soviet weapons stationed on its territory. In 1992, Ukraine with the other two, signed the Lisbon Protocol[vi] and joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state in 1994. The transfer of all nuclear material took some time, but by 2001, all nuclear weapons had been transferred to Russia to be dismantled and all launch silos decommissioned. Interestingly, the Protocol in itself does not talk of any security guantantees by either USA or Russian Federation. However, The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances comprises three substantially identical political agreements signed at the OSCE conference in Budapest, Hungary, on 5 December 1994, to provide security assurances by its signatories. The three memoranda were originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the UK and the USA. China and France too gave somewhat individual assurances in separate documents.

The memoranda, prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, “except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”. The memorandum did accelerate the handing over of nuclear weapons.

Conclusion: Pakistan has always led a rather unstable existence ever since its independence. Its nuclear weapon status provides the proverbial edge, which does keep world powers and India on their toes. Pakistan has institutionalised systems in place to secure the nuclear assets. However, given the unstable internal security situation, which can deteriorate in an accelerated manner, and possibly weaken the command and control chain, and security of nuclear assets, it makes eminent sense to plan and put procedures in place to secure the nuclear assets by external agencies led by the ‘Three’. India must make it her business to ensure the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear business.

(This article was earlier published in bharatshakti.in)


[i] Current geo-polical-social situation in Pakistan is being widely covered in the internet and other media sources. Nuclear aspects have been covered by sourcing the following articles online: –

[ii] ‘Non-Nuclear Attack Agreement’, signed between  Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on 21 December 1988 in Islamabad (ratified 1991), according to which, both countries have to inform each other of the nuclear facilities. Accessed on 12 May 2023.

[iii] ‘Assessing the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme’, by Tahir Moahmood Azad, and Karl Dewey, 27 Feb 2023, Taylor & Francis Online>Defence and Security Analysis, available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14751798.2023.2178069.  Accessed on 13 May 2023.

[iv] ‘Media Access Control Protocol’, ScienceDirect, available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/computer-science/media-access-control-protocol#:~:text=The%20proposed%20MAC%20protocol%20considers,for%20sensing%20and%20data%20transmission. Accessed on 15 May 2023.

[v] Permissive Action Links (PALs) – ensures that even if an unauthorized person gets hold of a weapon, he cannot activate it unless he also has access to electronic codes.

[vi] ‘Protocol to the Treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Reduction and Limitation Of Strategic Offensive Arms’, signed on May 23, 1992, between representatives of USA, Russian Federation, Republics of Ukraine, Byelarus and Kazakhstan; available at https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/27389.pdf. Accessed on 17 May 2023.

Russian troops preparing nuclear power station for a meltdown

IAEA Director General Grossi travels to Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant

Russian troops ‘dismantling nuclear power station’ sparking fears for safety of plant

Russian troops around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant attacked the city of Nikopol and surrounding villages on the bank of Dnieper River with drones and heavy artillery, damaging several residences.

By ALESSANDRA SCOTTO DI SANTOLO

09:52, Fri, Jun 2, 2023 | UPDATED: 10:12, Fri, Jun 2, 2023

Zaporizhzhya power plant has been occupied by Russian forces (Image: Getty)

Ukrainian Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate head, Oleg Korikov, warned the situation at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant is “getting worse every day”. Korikov said Russian troops occupying the Zaporizhzhya plant are “causing direct damage to the nuclear safety and security of the plant”.

He continued: “In order to restore nuclear and radiation security, it is necessary to immediately withdraw the Russian military and Russian personnel.”

He added: “International partners were informed that the Russian invaders continue to exert intense pressure on the personnel of the ZNPP, resort to intimidation, search the private residences of the station employees, prohibit contact with persons who are in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian government, and when people try to leave the occupied territory, they are not released and threaten confiscation of property.

“Representatives of Rosatom, who are illegally present at the ZNPP and are in fact complicit in the war crimes committed by the Russian Federation and its military, recruit personnel who do not have the appropriate qualifications.

IAEA Director General Grossi travels to Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant

Russian troops are causing direct damage to the plant (Image: Getty)

“Due to dismantling or theft by the Russian invaders of important elements of the systems, disabling of parts of computer equipment, etc., significant efforts and resources are needed to restore the physical protection system at the station.

“The occupiers almost completely degraded the emergency preparedness and response system at the ZNPP.

“By order of the occupying ‘administration’, the transmission of information from the Automated System for Monitoring the Radiation Situation (ASCRO) of the Zaporizhzhya NPP was blocked.”

IAEA Warns of Nuclear Meltdown: Revelation 8

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine. May. 31, 2023.

IAEA Chief: Situation at Zaporizhzhia NP Plant Dangerous

Published 31 May 2023 (20 hours 23 minutes ago)

“Military activities continue in the region and may well increase very considerably in the near future”

On Tuesday, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cautioned that the nuclear safety and security status at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant situated in Ukraine is extremely fragile and dangerous.

“Military activities continue in the region and may well increase very considerably in the near future,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a UN Security Council briefing.

According Grossi, despite being in a temporary shut-down is not sustainable, the plant has been operating with a notably diminished workforce,

According to Grossi’s statement, there have been seven instances when the site lost all off-site power and had to rely on emergency diesel generators; the last one, the seventh, occurred just one week ago.

“We are fortunate that a nuclear accident has not yet happened… we are rolling a dice and if this continues then one day our luck will run out,” Grossi said, adding, “So we must all do everything in our power to minimize the chance that it does.”

Grossi laid out new “concrete principles” which “are essential to avoid the danger of a catastrophic incident” at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

According to the Grossi, it is not advisable to employ Zaporizhzhia as a storage or a hub for heavy weaponry or military personnel, as they may inflict an attack on the facility.

Grossi also emphasized the need of safeguarding all structures, systems, and components, which are fundamental to the secure and safe functionality of the Zaporizhzhia facility, from potential assaults or acts of sabotage.

Situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant fragile, dangerous: IAEA chief: Revelation 8

Situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant fragile, dangerous: IAEA chief

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-05-31 09:47

UNITED NATIONS — The nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine remains extremely fragile and dangerous, said the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday.

“Military activities continue in the region and may well increase very considerably in the near future,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told a UN Security Council briefing.

The plant has been operating on significantly reduced staff, which despite being in temporary shut-down is not sustainable, he said.

There have been seven occasions when the site lost all off-site power and had to rely on emergency diesel generators, the last line of defence against a nuclear accident, to provide essential cooling of the reactor and spent fuel. The last one, the seventh, occurred just one week ago, Grossi said.

“We are fortunate that a nuclear accident has not yet happened… we are rolling a dice and if this continues then one day our luck will run out,” he warned.

“So we must all do everything in our power to minimize the chance that it does,” said Grossi.

The IAEA chief laid out new “concrete principles” which he said are essential to avoid the danger of a catastrophic incident at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

There should be no attack of any kind from or against the plant, in particular targeting the reactors, spent fuel storage, other critical infrastructure or personnel, he said.

Zaporizhzhia should not be used as storage or a base for heavy weapons or military personnel that could be used for an attack from the plant, and off-site power to the plant should not be put at risk, he added.

All structures, systems and components essential to the safe and secure operation of the Zaporizhzhia plant should be protected from attacks or acts of sabotage, Grossi said.

Zaporizhzhia Will Soon Undergo a Nuclear Meltdown: Jermiah

Nuclear power plant3:33

Ukraine war: Workers at deteriorating Zaporizhzhia plant fear ‘devastation’ on a scale ‘worse than Chernobyl’

The Zaporizhzhia power plant was taken under Russian control in March last year, becoming one of the first major areas to be captured by Vladimir Putin’s forces – but staff say they are intimidated by Russian troops to keep quiet about what’s happening behind closed doors.

Alex Rossi

International correspondent @alexrossiSKY

Wednesday 31 May 2023 14:47, UK

Sitting on the Dnipro River in Russian-occupied Ukraine is Europe’s largest nuclear power station – on the frontline of a worsening war.

Over a period of a few weeks we spoke to two workers at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

And the warnings they gave of what could happen should send a cold chill around the world.

The interviews were conducted on the condition of anonymity and at great personal risk to them. They told us that if they were caught, they could be tortured, imprisoned, or worse. They know the dangers but still wanted to be heard.

Neither of the technicians knew that we were talking to the other. But their testimony of the possibility of a major nuclear catastrophe was worryingly familiar. One of the men, who we will call Serhii, warned the consequences could cause devastation across much of Europe, Russia and the Mediterranean.

“The level of radioactive pollution, and most importantly the area of contamination, will be thousands of square kilometres of land and sea… it would be much, much worse than Fukushima and worse than Chernobyl.”

While some nuclear experts think that such an eventuality is unlikely, others have told us it’s a possible worst case scenario.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was captured by Russian forces in March last year at the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then there have been major concerns about safety at the plant. Not least of all because heavy weapons, including shells and rockets, have hit the buildings.

Both sides blame each other. But our sources told us that Russia has been deliberately targeting power lines to disrupt the flow of electricity to Ukraine. These lines are essential for plant safety and the cooling mechanism of the reactors.

For 30 years, workers at Europe’s largest nuclear power station couldn’t imagine that there could be a power outage.

Since Russian forces occupied the site last year it has happened seven times.

Ukraine maps

The back-up generators we were told are also not being properly maintained, the other man, Mykola, told us that this was because of staff shortages.

He says that before the war there were 11,000 staff at the plant and now there may be as few as 3,500.

“There is the same deficit of workers for repairs who can actually do the servicing and fix problems. The quality of the workers is lower because the qualified staff left. So generally the situation here is deteriorating.”

Five of the six reactors are now in cold shutdown, but there are fears Russia may use the power plant to stage a false flag attack.

Ukraine’s defence ministry alleges Moscow could be about to simulate a major accident, such as a radioactive leak, as a way of stopping any Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south of the country.

Satellite view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Image:Satellite view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on fire

Ukraine is expected to order its troops to reclaim territory lost at the beginning of the war in the coming weeks.

The power station has been under occupation now for 15 months and the technicians have told us that in the last few weeks the level of military activity has increased dramatically.

They’ve witnessed Russian forces, moving more armour, more ammunition and more guns into place as they fortify their positions.

Serhii says that he thinks it’s because they know the nuclear plant is safe from Ukrainian strikes.

“Ukrainian armed forces will not shell the station. That’s why they are multiplying the numbers of troops and vehicles here because if they did it in another place they would definitely get shelled by the armed forces of Ukraine.

“The thing is, one month and half ago there were two times less troops on the power station and now there are two times more which means they are definitely preparing for the counteroffensive.”

It is hard to know what is exactly going on inside, but we understand technicians are routinely intimidated to keep them silent – effectively held as hostages.

Mykola told us it’s a frightening place to work, but he has no choice.

“Everyone has their own story. And I think the most important thing is not to get into their hands because it’s unlikely you will get out and still be the human you were when you went in.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency is carrying out inspections, but it continues to express grave concerns about the nuclear plant and is calling for the area to be demilitarised immediately.

But there is no sign that will happen. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

The Pakistani Horn is Burning: Are the Nukes Safe and Secure? Daniel 8

Pakistan Burning: Are the Nukes Safe and Secure?

Pakistan Burning: Are the Nukes Safe and Secure?

May 30, 2023; By: Lt Gen PR Kumar (Retd)

Editor’s Note

The prevailing unstable environment in Pakistan could be used by multiple sections within that country to orchestrate a situation that might lead to nuclear weapons and associated technical mechanisms to fall in the hands of those driven by fundamentalism. It’s a scenario that threatens the world at large, comparable to the USSR breaking down. India, the US and China would be most affected and share the responsibilities of ensuring such an eventuality doesn’t come to a pass.

…………………………………………………….

If events were not so tragic, the fast moving violent, dynamic, unpredictable politico-social drama being enacted in Pakistan would appear to be a ‘comic-action film’ on TV. Nevertheless, being a transactional, impersonal world, people are watching it with great interest, and unfortunately, great amusement. However, a nuclear crisis is certainly no laughing matter, and powers that be will do well to plan and be ready for all contingencies.

The situation is exacerbated by the rivalry and obvious power games between the military, judiciary and executive, with Imran Khan as the ‘invincible, highly popular action hero’. Lost in the turmoil and violence, is the constant fear about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons ecosystem – the warheads, the missiles, delivery vehicles (land, air, sea, undersea), the readymade, high grade, unused fissile material, communication systems and aspects like security of the launch codes. Surely, the heads of governments of specifically USA, China and India and their national security advisors (NSAs), and intelligence agencies must be having sleepless nights. The contingency plans to be put into operation for securing the nuclear assets must be getting finetuned, too. 

Why especially these three: USA the superpower, still fighting the GWOT (Global War on Terror) also wants to keep the nuclear club exclusive with no further additions. For China, though Pakistan is her her client state (like North Korea), and an arch rival of India, it has its own worries about Xinjiang and fundamentalist elements. 

At the outset it’s important to highlight that the two most relevant but worrying aspects are, whether effective state control would be asserted at all times, and whether there are conditions where weapons could be used without due authorisation? Secondly, how to prevent subversion and theft both of physical nuclear assets and technical and communication details, including launch codes, by the very people who are guarding/protecting it. Pakistan’s capability and capacity to protect its nuclear assets along with a historical perspective, contingencies in case the international powers need to intervene need to be analysed. The article has used credible open-source material to examine the relevant issues.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal. Pakistan currently has 170 nuclear warheads, and claims a triad status which indicates the capacity to launch from land, air and sea. Details of assets are listed below:  

Source: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Notes:

  • Experts believe that Pakistan could well be the world’s fourth-largest nuclear weapon state, with a stockpile of some 350 warheads in a decade (2030).
  • Air. Apart from Mirage III and V, Pakistan can also deploy F-16s (24) and Chinese J 17s (186 in pipeline) for nuclear delivery.
  • Sea. Babur III, range 470 km; deployed aboard the air-independent-diesel-electric Agosta class submarines (ordered 8; deployed 4?); some Babur IIIs are pre-mated for second strike capability.
  • Tactical Nuclear Weapon (TNW). NASR/ HATF 9 has a range of 60 km only, most probably pre-mated, and some deployed with forward troops, and possibly under command and control of HQs at operational level (Corps HQ); raising the probability and its vulnerability of misuse/rogue use/panic use, and finding its way in wrong hands including terrorist organisations; a recipe for a nuclear Armageddon. In 2016 Obama said, “Battlefield nuclear weapons, by their very nature, pose [a] security threat because you’re taking battlefield nuclear weapons to the field where, as you know, as a necessity, they cannot be made as secure,”
  • Pakistan does not possess enough launchers compared to the warheads it holds; and the launchers are dual capable (can fire both conventional and nuclear warheads)!

Nuclear Policy. Pakistan boasts of ‘full spectrum deterrence capability’. Their policy is similar to NATOs ‘flexible response strategy’, with threat of use when her red lines/threshold are crossed, without explicitly spelling it out. Pakistan claims that she has a formal policy which is classified, and believes that ambiguity adds to the value of deterrence.

Source: Taylor and Francis Online (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14751798.2023.2178069)

Command and Control of Nuclear Assets. The apex body which exercises command and control is the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) headed by the PM, with the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) under a three-star army general, which is responsible for the protection of its tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile, and the strategic assets. Special Response Force (SRF) is the special forces unit of SPD Force with a strength of 25000 to 28000 personnel which secures the assets. The selection standards in terms of intelligence and physical standards for the force are even higher than army due to very sensitive nature of their duty. After initial training in army training establishments, they are now trained in Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS), located in Chakri near Rawalpindi. Training is modelled on US National Nuclear Security academy. 

Regarding Pakistan, it will be fair and reasonable to assume, that the military (COAS) would have the final and decisive vote for exercising the nuclear option. 

International Opinion and Observations on Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) Pakistan. Ashley J. Tellis in his book (Striking Asymmetries: Nuclear Transitions in Southern Asia) says Pakistan is building “the largest, most diversified, and most capable nuclear arsenal possible”, which is endorsed by Peter Lavoy, a US intelligence officer. The Trump administration’s South Asia strategy in 2017 urged Pakistan to stop sheltering terrorist organizations, and noted the need to “prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists”. President Biden in Oct 2022 said ““Pakistan “may be one of the most dangerous” countries in the world having “nuclear weapons without any cohesion”.

Deployment/Location of Nuclear Assets.

Note: – Areas shown as Azad Kashmir and Northern Areas are an integral part of India

Even when nations proclaim transparency, as exists(ed) between USA and Russia, regarding holdings and deployment of nuclear assets, in terms of agreements (SALT II, which now stands abrogated/suspended), there is always uncertainty and ambiguity regarding accuracy of details, especially when most delivery mechanisms are dual-capable and also co-located which is a new dangerous trend followed specially by China and Pakistan. US aggressive anti-nuclear stance against North Korea is mainly because she can never be 100% sure of deployment of nuclear assets, thus not confident of knocking them out in a ‘first strike’ if ever the need arises. However, Pakistan nuclear assets’ locations are known to a fair degree of certainty, both due to diligence and ISR by the big powers, especially USA, as also with an existing agreement between India and Pakistan to notify each other. Details of known locations are placed below: – 

  • Fissile Material Production Complex – Pakistan has a well-established and diverse fissile material production complex that is expanding at Kahuta, enrichment plant at Gadwal North of Islamabad. Four heavy water plutonium reactors in Khushab and thermal power plant (helps in estimation of production of fissile material). A new Reprocessing plant at Nilore, E of Islamabad, and second at Chatham in NW Punjab processing spent fuel and extracts plutonium.
  • Fissile Material – In 2020, the International Panel on Fissile Materials estimated that Pakistan had an inventory of approximately 3,900 kilograms of weapon-grade (90 percent enriched) highly enriched uranium (HEU), and about 410 kg of weapon-grade plutonium. This material is theoretically enough to produce between 285 and 342 warheads. Pakistan uses Tritium to boost fission process and reduce size of warhead. Possesses 690 gm, enough to boost over 100 weapons. Most short range missiles like NASR, Abdali, Babur, Ra-‘ad will need small, lightweight tritium boosted fission warhead.
  • Production of Missile and Mobile Launchers.   National Defence Complex at Kala Chitta Dahr mountain range West of Islamabad with two sections; 
  • West – development, production, test launching of missiles and rocket engines; 
  • East – production and assembly of road mobile transporter erector launchers (TELs)
  • Some launcher and missile-related production and maintenance facilities may be located near Tarnawa and Taxila.
  • Warhead Production. Pakistan Ordnance Factories near Wah, NW of Islamabad.

Safety and Security of Nuclear Assets.

Pakistan has put in place all safeguards expected from a Nuclear Weapon State and as per international norms of IAEA’s Nuclear Security Strategy (NSS). During late 2000s a US report stated “we’re, I think, fairly confident that they have the proper structures and safeguards in place to maintain the integrity of their nuclear forces and not to allow any compromise.” The SPD is the institutional link between civilian and military facilities. Pakistani sites have three “rings” of security. The first is within each facility itself with SPD personnel responsible for physical searches, Nuclear Media Access Control (NMAC) protocols; while the second ring is formed of physical means (limited access areas, physical barriers). Outside of each site, the third ring of security is provided by a wider counter intelligence effort. Being aware of the dangers of subversion, NCA has put in place a very rigid system of vetting regularly; different for scientists, civilian staff and military personnel. Screening involves four of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. Some important measures incorporated are: 

  • The National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) of the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has become an IAEA collaborating centre for Nuclear Security Education, Training and Technical Support in October 2022.
  • Working with the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in different areas. The GICNT is an international partnership intended to improve international capacity for prevention, detection, and response to nuclear terrorism, particularly the acquisition, transport, or use of nuclear and radiological materials.
  • Advanced-level training in American National Laboratories and applying it to improve the overall security practices in the country. 

Additional measures in terms of equipment enhancement are: 

  • Specially trained – as per IAEA and Nuclear Security Series.
  • Permissive Action Links (PAL) –electronic codes.
  • Special theft and tamper-proof vehicles and containers are also used.
  • SPD and PNRA operate radiational detection portal monitors at nuclear sites.
  • Contingency planning.
  • All round and fool proof communications.
  • Nuclear Security Emergency Coordination Centre (NuSECC) in Islamabad.
  • Mobile Radiological Monitoring Laboratory (MRML) established.

Historical Statistics and Vulnerabilities. But impressions, reputation and opinions have gone steadily downhill in the last decade, more due to the socio-political instable internal security situation, rise of political Islam and fundamentalism, Further, Pakistan’s unrelenting dalliance with terrorist organisations, has run the full circle to pose a serious threat at home. There are credible intelligence reports that Al Qaeda, IS, TTP have shown renewed interest in acquiring both warhead, fissile material and technology. The two main constant and real worries are theft (material and intellectual) as also insider operations. 

The latest mob violence on Imran Khans arrest, has led to greater instability, and even the specter of a civil war. There are worrying reports of dissension within the Army ranks, both at the highest levels (rift between COAS, CJSC, Corps Commanders), middle and lower echelons. There are reports of mutinies in old established army units; soldiers abandoning their posts and duties, increasing insubordination which should cause grave apprehension regarding the safety and security of nuclear assets. If Pakistan’s most disciplined force can be beset with insubordination and desertion, the paramilitary, intelligence agencies and most importantly the personnel manning the security protocol of nuclear assets could also be equally susceptible. 

The vulnerability is not only physical theft of warheads and fissile material, but technical data and electronic codes which can operationalize the weapons and missile systems. In the current unrest and fragile security environment, when it’s time to implement the harshest security measures, ironically, it the entire system at its most vulnerable levels from subversion and theft. Some historical lapses concerning security of nuclear assets are listed below: 

  • In November 2007, a suicide attack killed seven PAF staff travelling between Mushaf Mir Airbase and the Central Ammunition Depot, Sargodha. Both sites have been associated with Pakistan’s nuclear programme. 
  • A double bombing in August 2008 killed 64 people in Wah Cantt. One explosion took place outside the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF), which is believed to house the Gadwal Enrichment Plant. 
  • In July 2009, a bus carrying KRL workers was attacked by a suicide bomber at Chor Chowk, Peshawar Road. 
  • In October 2009, the Minhas air force base in Kamra was attacked. The site is widely assessed to host Pakistani nuclear weapons, although the attacker is reported to have detonated a bomb at “a checkpoint on a road leading to the complex,” rather than the base itself.
  • The biggest of them all, AQ Khan stole both sensitive information from the Physical Dynamics Research Laboratory, a subcontractor to the URENCO enrichment consortium, and then going on to sell indigenised versions of that technology to North Korea, Iran, and Libya.

Subversion at the highest level was revealed when Lieutenant General (Retired) Javed Iqbal and Brigadier (Retired) Raja Rizwan who received 14 years imprisonment and the death penalty, respectively for nuclear espionage. Insiders have been a real concern for Pakistani authorities.

Possible Scenarios and Recommendations.

  • Pakistan will obviously remain the first responder for most contingencies, and is expected to act immediately and decisively in case of theft of warhead or fissile material, or loss of critical technological information; assuming the command and control of nuclear assets is still intact and not broken (contingencies like civilian and/or military control, or break up of both is a realistic probability). They are expected to act responsibly and alert the international community immediately specially the ‘Three’ (USA, China and India the immediate neighbour), and United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • In case, the UN and world body led by USA and China feel that there exist conditions where the nuclear assets are NOT under the command and control of any responsible body, be it the civil or military, and safety and security of the assets are compromised, and real threat to them exists (terrorists, breakaway military leader/group(s) and rogue elements); there is a need for physical intervention to secure them, with or without the sanction/permission of Pakistani authorities. The current scenario does warrant planning and coordinating for such a contingency, especially by the ‘Three’.
  • In the eventuality of the above, and if the unstable situation of a civil war like situation persists, there is a case of following a variation of the Ukraine model* with Pakistan. Pakistan naturally will be loath to give up her nuclear assets. The process will take time, but the world cannot afford to have the spectre of a Nuclear Armageddon hanging on its head, all the time.

*Note: When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, there were thousands of former Soviet nuclear warheads, as well as hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers, left on Ukraine’s territory (some in Belarus and Kazakhstan, too), which they decided to transfer to Russia. Ukraine never had an independent nuclear weapons arsenal, or control over these weapons, but agreed to remove former Soviet weapons stationed on its territory. In 1992, Ukraine with the other two, signed the Lisbon Protocol and joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state in 1994. The transfer of all nuclear material took some time, but by 2001, all nuclear weapons had been transferred to Russia to be dismantled and all launch silos decommissioned. Interestingly, the Protocol in itself does not talk of any security guarantees by either USA or Russian Federation. However, The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances comprises three substantially identical political agreements signed at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference in Budapest, Hungary, on 5 December 1994, to provide security assurances by its signatories. The three memoranda were originally signed by three nuclear powers: the Russian Federation, the UK and the USA. China and France too gave somewhat individual assurances in separate documents. 

The memoranda, prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, “except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”. The memorandum did accelerate the handing over of nuclear weapons. 

Conclusion. Pakistan has always led a rather unstable existence ever since its independence. Its nuclear weapon status provides the proverbial edge, which does keep world powers and India on their toes. Pakistan has institutionalised systems in place to secure the nuclear assets. However, given the unstable internal security situation, which can deteriorate in an accelerated manner, and possibly weaken the command-and-control chain, and security of nuclear assets, it makes eminent sense to plan and put procedures in place to secure the nuclear assets by external agencies led by the ‘Three’. India must make it her business to ensure the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear business.

China horn’s growing arsenal boosts risk of nuclear war, study says

In this file photo, China's People's Liberation Army displays DF-26 ballistic missiles in a parade. Over just the past several months, major revelations about the extent of China's hypersonic weapons capabilities, its nuclear arms stockpile, and even the size of its navy have sparked concerns that Washington may not have a full window into exactly what its 21st-century rival has up its sleeve, or what may be under development deep inside the communist nation. (Associated Press/File)
In this file photo, China’s People’s Liberation Army displays DF-26 ballistic missiles in a parade. Over just the past several months, major revelations about the extent of China’s hypersonic weapons capabilities, its nuclear arms stockpile, and even the size of … more >

China’s growing arsenal boosts risk of nuclear war, study says

By Bill Gertz – The Washington Times – Monday, May 29, 2023

China’s rapid large-scale buildup of nuclear missiles, submarines, bombers, including an orbiting nuclear strike weapon, is increasing the danger of nuclear war, according to a study.

The bipartisan group of specialists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California is warning that the U.S. is ill-prepared to deal with what are now two peer nuclear powers — China and Russia — must bolster deterrence. The laboratory is funded by the Energy Department and previously took part in designing nuclear weapons.

Analysts at the laboratory’s Center for Global Security Research concluded in their 71-page report that the Biden administration’s plans and policies are insufficient and must be changed to reflect new nuclear dangers that are “real” and “rising.”



The report calls for adding nuclear warheads to existing submarine-launched ballistic missiles, building a new nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile, and preparing to deploy new long-range Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missiles on road-mobile launchers.

The current U.S. strategic triad consisting of aging land-based missiles, missile submarines, and aerial bombers is “only marginally sufficient to meet today’s requirements” for deterring China and Russia,” the report said. “For tomorrow’s requirements, the deficiencies are even more striking. The United States should plan and prepare to deploy additional warheads and bombs from the reserve it has maintained for such a possibility.”

World War III is Inevitable: Revelation 16

Is World War III inevitable?

Scott Sumner

The Financial Times has an article by Gideon Rachman entitled:

How to stop a war between America and China

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t tell us how to stop a war between the US and China.  It does mention the possibility of setting up the sort of “hot line” that existed between the US and the Soviet Union, but it’s hard to see how that would be decisive.  There was no hot line 1962, when the US and Russia pulled back from the brink of nuclear war.  

Rachman says that policymakers view the risk of war as being quite high:

Visiting Washington last week, it was striking how commonplace talk of war between the US and China has become. That discussion has been fed by loose-lipped statements from American generals musing about potential dates for the opening of hostilities.

Those comments, while unwise, did not spring from nowhere. They are a reflection of the broader discussion on China taking place in Washington — inside and outside government. Many influential people seem to think that a US-China war is not only possible but probable.

The rhetoric coming out of Beijing is also bellicose. Last month, Qin Gang, China’s foreign minister, said that “if the US side does not put on the brakes and continues down the wrong path . . . confrontation and conflict” between the two nations is inevitable.

I am also worried about the risk of war between the US and China.  When thinking about this risk, it might be worth reviewing the situation in Europe, which seems equally dangerous.  As far as I can tell, the US policy in Europe is roughly the following:

1. If Russia invades Estonia, we go to war with Russia.

2. If Russia invades Latvia, we go to war with Russia.

3. If Russia invades Lithuania, we go to war with Russia.

4. If Russia invades Ukraine, we supply Ukraine with weapons and intelligence.

A major war between two nuclear armed nations is a massive negative sum outcome.  That sort of outcome is most likely to occur due to miscalculation.  One way to reduce the risk of war is by making one’s intentions crystal clear, so that our adversaries know how we will respond if they act.  Russia knows that we will defend Nato countries if they are attacked, and that’s why it doesn’t attack Nato countries.

It’s somewhat odd that the risk of war with China is currently seen as being higher than the risk of war with Russia, especially given the fact that Russia has a more powerful nuclear force than China and is led by a more reckless and militaristic leader.  One possible factor is that our foreign policy in Asia is far more ambiguous than in Europe.  Ambiguity can lead to miscalculation, which can have very negative effects. 

In my view, clarity along the following lines would make war between the US and China much less likely than it is today, and much less likely than war between the US and Russia:

1. If China invades Japan, we go to war with China.

2. If China invades South Korea, we go to war with China.

3. If Russia China invades the Philippines (their main islands), we go to war with China.

4. If Russia China invades Taiwan, we supply Taiwan with weapons and intelligence.

[Yikes, there were typos in the original.]

In other words, replicate our successful European policy approach to avoiding a US war with Russia, as a way of avoiding war with China.

Of course there are other possible options, such as extending our defense umbrella to Taiwan.  But whatever we decide to do, our policy must be crystal clear.  The worst of all possible outcomes would be if the US intends to go to war with China over Taiwan, while China doesn’t believe the US intends to go to war over Taiwan. Remember the Gulf War of 1991? 

Alternatively, suppose China believes that we’d go to war over Taiwan, but we have no intention of actually doing so.  China might accompany an attack on Taiwan with a Pearl Harbor-type strike against US bases in Japan and Guam, triggering WWIII.  All due to a misunderstanding.  Not a likely outcome, but possible.

I don’t expect the US to follow my advice, and hence I see a non-trivial risk that miscalculation could lead to a nuclear war between the US and China during the late 2020s, which would be in no one’s interest.  I hope I’m wrong.

The Impending Nuclear Crisis: Revelation 8

Zaporizhzhia Gazette: Notes on an Unfolding Nuclear Crisis

BY CAROL WOLMAN

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The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is directly in the path of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, sitting on the south bank of the Dnieper River, which is currently occupied by Russia.  The Russians have evacuated the surrounding countryside, and fortified the plant itself.  There are sandbags and gun emplacements atop several of the reactors, soldiers outnumber the engineers there, and the area surrounding the plant has been heavily mined.

Ukraine’s defence ministry has warned that Russia plans to simulate a major accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which is under the control of Russian forces, in a bid to thwart the expected counteroffensive by Ukraine to retake its territory captured by Moscow….“Russians are preparing massive provocation and imitation of the accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the nearest hours,” the Ukrainian defence ministry’s intelligence directorate said on Friday.

“They are planning to attack the territory of the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant]. After that, they will announce the leakage of the radioactive substances,” the intelligence directorate said in a statement and later on social media channels.

Reports of radioactive material leaking from the plant would cause a global incident and force an investigation by international authorities, during which all hostilities would be stopped, the directorate said. Russia would then use that pause in fighting to regroup its forces and better prepare to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the intelligence service said.  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/27/ukraine-claims-russia-planning-massive-incident-at-nuclear-site

This story has been reported in many news outlets around the world, with caveats that no evidence has been presented to back it up.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is meeting tomorrow in a special session, chaired by Switzerland, although Russia holds the chair this month.

The meeting is aimed at encouraging the parties involved to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear safety principles in order to avoid a nuclear catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is due to brief the council on the current situation and present the principles for ensuring safety on site.

The foreign ministry said Grossi had led efforts aimed at securing the protection of the plant during the conflict, “engaging in months of intense negotiations with both Ukraine and Russia to prevent a potentially severe nuclear accident”.

“Combat operations are a direct threat to the nuclear power plant, and a nuclear accident would have far-reaching humanitarian and environmental consequences not only for Ukraine but also for the European continent,” the Swiss ministry said… Swiss minister to chair UN meeting on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – SWI swissinfo.ch

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons

May 29, 2023

Regarding maintaining calm and order in South Asia, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development is essential. Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons has drastically transformed the dynamics of the security environment in a region defined by historical tensions and wars between India and Pakistan. The nuclear arsenal of Pakistan helps to keep tranquility in South Asia. Pakistan has no belligerent intentions against any other country; hence, they help maintain placidity in the area.

Pakistan has nuclear weapons primarily to obviate any possible assault from India. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent aims to avert its larger and conventionally superior neighbor from launching a military attack against Pakistan. India is deterred from taking moves that may lead to a full-scale confrontation due to the threat of devastating nuclear retaliation. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal balances out India’s conventional military dominance, creating a more even playing field and reducing the probability of aggressive military action by India. The security situation is more stable since neither party can gain an overwhelming military advantage without triggering catastrophic repercussions.

Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons coerces India to exercise prudence in South Asia. India has a compelling interest in avoiding a nuclear exchange because of the devastation it would cause to civilians and the environment. The risk of any escalation quickly spiraling out of control and leading to an unthinkable catastrophe incentivizes India to pursue diplomatic solutions and avoid reckless military adventurism.

Nuclear weapons provide a level of stability between India and Pakistan during heightened tensions or crises. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence forces both nations to exercise strategic restraint and logical decision-making. It compels leaders to consider the consequences of their actions, making them less likely to make rash choices that could worsen the situation.

The world closely monitors the issue of nuclear weapons in South Asia. Increased international efforts have been made to foster conversation, mediation, and conflict resolution between India and Pakistan as the dangers of a nuclear confrontation in the region have been more widely recognized. The international community should make an effort to resolve long-standing issues between Pakistan and India, such as the Kashmir issue. By taking a stand and actively working towards a resolution, both countries would have fewer reasons to engage in conflict. With the support of the international community and other powerful nations, there is an increased incentive for the two countries to settle their differences amicably.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has engendered strategic stability, making the region more predictable. Decision-makers are aware of the potential implications and are compelled to explore diplomatic and non-aggressive solutions to crises, knowing that a significant military attack could trigger a nuclear retaliation. This stability reduces the likelihood of a catastrophic war breaking out due to a mistake or unintentional deployment of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons help maintain peace and security in South Asia, which is why Pakistan possesses them. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has deterred major conflicts and promoted a more peaceful environment in the region by providing a credible deterrent against potential aggression, maintaining a balance of power, controlling escalation, fostering crisis stability, attracting international mediation, and establishing nuclear stability. However, India and Pakistan must continue to engage in dialogue, implement confidence-building measures, and make diplomatic efforts to resolve their differences.