Thursday, 25 December 2014

Nuclear Proliferation between India and Pakistan



Countries build massive nuclear weapons with the intent of safeguarding their own interests. Proliferation of fissionable materials, weapons-applicable information and nuclear technology to countries that cannot be considered ‘Nuclear Weapon Nations’ by Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) amounts to nuclear proliferation.

NPT recognizes nations that carried tests on nuclear weapons prior to 1968. Most nations oppose such proliferation. This stems from the belief that the increasing the number of countries with nuclear weapons raises the preponderance of destructive nuclear welfare. Moreover, this may also destabilize regional and global relations as well as infringe the sovereignty of countries.

The ranging rhetoric between Pakistan and India continue fuel the existing related wars and nuclear weapon situation. Leaders in these two countries claim that they do not intend to utilize nuclear weapons. However, the general perception is that the two countries are keen in using nuclear weapons in attacks. The proximity between Pakistan and India means that any skirmishes can culminate to massive deaths. Methinks the possibility of a direct war pitting Pakistan and India, as nuclear-armed countries remain very real. 


Presumably, Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea have nuclear weapons. None of these countries is party to NPT. In 1985, North Korea did accede to NPT. However, it withdrew its membership in 2003. Consequently, North Korea carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 as well as in 2013. Both countries have opposed the treaty ab initio. Maybe this explains why on May 1998, both Pakistan and India exploded nuclear devices. This heightened the growing concerns regarding a possible arms race between the two countries. The relationship between Pakistan and India is both hostile and tense.

The risk of a massive nuclear conflict is substantially high since 1948. The bilateral tension between the two counties is due to Kashmir. The sovereignty of Kashmir is the sole reason behind the bilateral conflict. Pakistan backs an insurgency in Kashmir. The arms race between Pakistan and India began in 1980s. This culminated to the use of urbane equipment and technology intended to deliver nuclear weapons. The arms race intensified in 1990s. India did reverse a 4-year trend that sought to reduce defense allocations in spite of its small economy in 1994. Conversely, Pakistan also increased its defense expenditures. Both India and Pakistan lost the USSR and the U.S. respectively as their patrons.  All these countries view NPT as discriminatory. Countries joining NPT must abjure nuclear weapons.  Pakistan and India do not form part of the NPT’s membership as intended since its inception in 1970.

Britain withdrew from Indian subcontinent immediately after the World War II (WWII). By then, the subcontinent was divided into religious grounds – into Pakistan and India. Then, Kashmir was in India. However, the issues as to which state Kashmir would belong to remain contestable because the population in Kashmir is primarily Muslim. Essentially, Kashmir wants autonomy as opposed to merging with either Pakistan or India. In 1947, the United Nations (UN) resolution called for one decisive plebiscite in Kashmir with the intention of settling the issue based on what people wanted. Therefore, the referendum would seek to set free the Kashmir region.

Most people in Kashmir rooted for independence. However, this did not happen. Allegedly, the government of India feared that a popular vote could support its confederacy with Pakistan based upon religious grounds. Most people in Kashmir want autonomy. This position does not favor either Pakistan or India. Over the past decade, about 30,000 people in Kashmir have died. The situation in Kashmir is the cause of the deepening tension between Pakistan and India. A war pitting Pakistan and India would mark a direct war pitting nuclear-armed countries. The conflict history between Pakistan and India over Kashmir remains well documented in the three wars between these two countries since 1947. However, in case a war was to break out, the effects would be perilous because both sides now possess nuclear weapons.

Since an attack on India’s Parliament building on December 2001, the rhetoric and tension have grown substantially. Allegedly, terror groups supported by Pakistan attacked the Indian parliament. These terror groups were located in Kashmir and they received continued support from Pakistan. The illegal group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir thought to have attacked the Indian parliament. Pakistan pledges its unwavering support for freedom fighters in Kashmir. Before the turn of 2001, clashes took place every night within the border region between Pakistan and India. The climate of saber-rhetoric and increased tension led to a situation where about one million military troops gathered nigh to the border on May 2002.

India could not sign the NPT in 1968 since it was preparing nuclear program. This prompted Pakistan to avert signing the NPT too. Following the nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan and in India cannot sign NPT as either NWS or non-clear weapon countries. After the events of the September 11, 2001, the U.S. lifted the sanctions placed on both Pakistan and India in its efforts to boost the terrorism war. It is important for Pakistan and India to sign the pact. Currently, Pakistan and India stare in an abyss. Carrying out a thorough introspection into the arms race debate is healthy. Comparing the Pakistan-India nuclear stalemate with that of the U.S. and Soviet Union many years ago is to miss the point.

Neither Pakistan nor India has the resources and technology to institute the indispensable safeguards as well as the warning systems established by both the Soviet Union and the U.S. Even with safe systems, fragile democracies, capricious political systems, contiguous borders, fragile economies and poor delivery times make the effectiveness of the systems questionable. The question as to whether Pakistan and India can sustain weapons manufacturing, monitoring systems and control remains debatable.

The abysmal human development state and health in Pakistan and India outweighs the huge nuclear weapons costs. Both Pakistan and India have huge infant and maternal mortalities in the globe. Since the 1998 nuclear explosions, India’s defense budget has been raised by 10% while Pakistan imposed a tax surcharge of 10% with the intent of meeting the escalating defense needs. Unfortunately, such efforts have reduced the meager allocations towards education and health. The unruly people who celebrate the nuclear war in Islamabad and Delhi in Pakistan and India respectively only serve to aggravate the problem.  The Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile can reach Bombay in about ten minutes.

Since the December 2001 attack, Pakistan is reported to have arrested about 1,500 ‘militants’ as well as proscribed five groups – two sectarian groups, one pro-Taliban and two fighting the rule of India in Kashmir. General Musharaf however continues to support Kashmir. Most people living near the Kashmir border have fled because of the huge military presence by both sides in the area. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons consist of about 10-100 nuclear warheads while India has 50-150 warheads.

Any small incident or mistake would risk setting up war. While government officials claim that they would not be the first to use nuclear weapons first, they appear surprisingly keen to utilize them second as a form of retaliation. Given the Pakistan-India proximity, millions of people would die in case a war broke out. While India reiterates that it cannot use the nuclear weaponry first, Pakistan is keen to point out that it would not hesitate.

The ‘No-First-Use’ - NFU - policy as used by India is a vital footstep towards disarmament. The NFU policy is hogwash and not credible at all. Critics argue that this policy only serves as an excuse towards ‘Second-Use’ policy. Ultimately, second use is indistinguishable from first use. It is practically impossible to differentiate NFU policy from Second-Use policy. As the tensions between the two countries continue to mount, the temptation to retaliate first grows incrementally.

India is escalating events with the argument being that it is merely following the U.S. as well as the West in the zero tolerance approach towards terrorist attacks. India perceives the Pakistan as harboring interests in the dissidents in Kashmir. Pakistan is allegedly harboring terrorists. Towards this end, India threatens Pakistan with military retaliation. Both Pakistan and India have internal problems too. Musharaf had promised democratic elections in Pakistan since the military took control. However, only a plebiscite boycotted by most political parties has happened. On the other hand, the ruling BJP party has lost each state election in a row.

Now, it turns to uniting the nation against a perceived ‘external’ threat. Irrespective of the rationale behind the tensions, it is imperative to avert any nuclear war devastation.  The current situation in Asia depicts the central of disarmament. A war with conventional weaponry leads to massive deaths. Therefore, any attempt to use nuclear weapons would give birth to a complete catastrophe. For this reason, it is important to use diplomatic language as well as international negotiations to resolve the current situation in Kashmir.

The NWS must execute their responsibilities as enshrined in the NPT in getting rid of nuclear weapons in their countries. The relationship between Pakistan and India is characterized by communal antagonisms, military confrontations and mutual recriminations. Such debilitating rivalry is the rationale behind the huge acquisition of nuclear weapons in an attempt to defense themselves against either perceived or real threats.

The UK, France, China, Russia, France and the U.S. are declared Nuclear Weapon States (NWS). Drawn up on 1968, the NPT conceives a NWA as that country that carried tests before them on nuclear weapons. Nuclear proliferation brings with it dangerous effects. Pakistan and India remain the first threshold countries approaching the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. Proliferations of nuclear weapons in South Asia pose global, regional as well as sub-continental challenges. 


Following the 1974 nuclear explosion in India, Pakistan negotiated to buy a plutonium re-processing plant under the leadership of the late Bhutto from France. The U.S. aborted the purchase after successfully dissuading France not to sell the plan plutonium plant to Pakistan. This action only serves to depict the role of the U.S. and indeed, the entire international community in curbing proliferation of nuclear weapons, not only between Pakistan and India but also in other areas across the world.

Allegedly, India has a nuclear weapon program. This is especially with the nuclear test carried on May 1974 while Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998. The modernization and growth of China’s nuclear weapons coupled with its help with Pakistan’s nuclear program with missile technologies only serves to aggravate India’s concerns. In order to militate against the adverse effects of an arm between Pakistan and India, it is important to understand the major elements of the proliferation. By not feeling safe or comfortable, countries cannot fully cooperate with each other. This has innumerable adverse effects. 

After the civilian nuclear explosion that occurred in India in 1974, the U.S. as a major country that concerns itself with nuclear proliferation took charge of leading other nuclear weapons supplier countries to establish international restraints, which would prevent other threshold countries from following India’s example.

Connoting legal, institutional and technical measures, which could internationalize sensitive nuclear fuel cycle’s segments, the restrictions were enshrined in the nuclear-related export guiding principles. These guidelines were adopted by every main nuclear supplier countries regardless of whether they were of a non-socialist or socialist persuasion. The U.S. persuaded India to accede to certain international acceptable safeguards that could vindicate their professions during post-explosion stage. The U.S. - Indo discussions gave premium to an avalanche of issues. Public and formal Indian undertakings had to abstain from any other nuclear explosions.

Furthermore, India had to accede to a scope safeguards system if it failed to sign the NPT. Proliferations of nuclear weapons in South Asia pose global, regional as well as sub-continental challenges.  For this reason, the intervention of the U.S. and the international community in curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons is integral. The U.S. concerns itself with adoption of a nonproliferation policy. It persuaded India to accept the full scope safeguards with the intent of placing all the nuclear facilities under some international inspection.  In so doing, such a move would show Pakistan that acquisition of nuclear weapons is irrelevant. However, India does not accept abridgement of its national sovereignty.

Unlike the NWS, the international community must realize that Pakistan and India are making nuclear weapons in a surreptitious and stealthy manner. Unfortunately, the Indo - U.S. deal in 2006 has the preponderance of exacerbating the arms race pitting Pakistan against India. The accord will likely accelerate nuclear conflict between the two countries. Contrariwise, an India-Pakistan bilateral agreement would go a long way in enhancing the stability of the Southern Asia region.

The September 11 attacks rekindled the debate as to whether Pakistan could be entrusted a nuclear power alongside other NWS especially as far as the terrorism war is concerned. The existence of the quasi-alliance system pitting the Soviet Union and India against China, the U.S. and Pakistan intensified the arms race between Pakistan and India in the 1980s. The British actively tried to mediate the Kashmir row too. The U.N. attempt to play a constructive role in monitoring the ceasefire arrangements involving Pakistan and India underscores the centrality of stability in Southern Asia. The presence of the U.N. in Kashmir is important to Pakistan. The presence of the U.N. military observers gives Pakistan a platform to refute claims by India that Kashmir is not a live issue.

It is imperative that Pakistan and India refrains from embarking on build up of nuclear weapons. An exchange of about 20 kilotons of nuclear weapons between Pakistan and India would lead to the immediate death of over one million people. Neither of these countries is immune to the adverse effects of a nuclear exchange. Therefore, a nuclear war between them is a mutually guaranteed destruction. In order to ensure that a nuclear conflict does not occur, it is important to educate the opinion leaders and the populace of the dangers of nuclear war.

The massive human cost that accompanies a futile and expensive nuclear weapons building is detrimental to economic development. Achieving a rapprochement between Pakistan and India is attainable through pragmatic confidence-building measures coupled with publicizing the views put forth by proponents of peace. Nuclear capability comes with true ‘nuclear responsibility’ and this, in its own light is a huge responsibility over their destitute, sick and impoverished populations. With stockpiles of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, the world is already unsafe. Pakistan and India should adopt a nonproliferation policy to avert regional instability.


Differentiating second use from NFU policy in nuclear war is a tall order. The current policy proscribes the use of a NFU policy and allows the second-use policy. Obviously, this creates loopholes and affects the fight against the use of nuclear weapons adversely. Such a policy has created the security instability between Pakistan and India.

If countries were to avert incidental war and reduce manipulation of nuclear manipulation even with the heightened political rivalry, then the realization of zero tolerance towards the use of nuclear weapons is realizable. This should be the defining policy in the Pakistan-India situation. It is possible to mount pressure against both Pakistan and India to sign the NPT. This would go a long way in settling the political differences between these two countries especially concerning the position of Kashmir. It is important for NPT and NWS to provide a succinct definition as to the manner through which states should combat terror groups. This will go a long way into ensuring that countries like Pakistan and India do not use nuclear weapons due to their far-reaching impacts on populations.

Since both countries are beyond the fundamental strategic balance, it is difficult to have guidelines available in experience and strategic doctrine regarding how they should relate in future. A policy rooting for nuclear non-proliferation is good but insufficient. While it serves to avert horizontal spread, it does not prevent possible vertical spread of such weapons. Were Pakistan and India to join NPT, it would be possible to restrict time allowable for them to possess the nuclear weapons.

Additionally, many supplier countries have undertaken either bilateral or unilateral actions with the intent of supplementing the previous multilateral arrangements such as the 1978 U.S. Nuclear Proliferation Act (NNPA) as well as the Canadian and Australian regulations governing uranium fuel and ores supply. Countries beyond the NPT administration in search of nuclear cooperation, materials or supplies from London Suppliers Group (LSG) must accede to a scope safeguards system, which provide for continuous monitoring and inspection of all future and current nuclear materials and facilities in consumer counties for supply of equipment and nuclear technology.

Moreover, control over front-end fuel cycle is undertaken through laws and policies of individual countries with the intent of overseeing international enrichment services and uranium ores supply. However, the naturally uranium-fuelled plants in Pakistan, India and Argentina are exempted from such control. However, laws and policies do not provide automatic deterrence against nuclear proliferation. Resolving the Indo-Pakistan conflicts requires conciliation and diplomacy. Over the past, Pakistan and India have engaged in well-crafted negotiation aiming at resolution of the contentious issues and reducing tensions in an attempt to avert the strategic and political uncertainties that have culminated to the instability in South Asia.

After the 1974 nuclear explosion in India, Pakistan embarked on a dedicated-facilities approach towards nuclear weapons tailored at acquisition of autonomous fissile nuclear source. This is untenable and poses huge security risks. This means that it is important for both Pakistan and India to seek comprehensive dialogue. This will serve to avert the possible action-reaction syndrome. Creation of a mutual assurances system through verification procedures, communication system, bilateral inspection arrangements, consultation and internationally deposited instruments will help guarantee against any possible surprise attacks.

The cultures and proximity of Pakistan and India allow near-complete intelligence availability upon the activities of one another. This would also involve linking the sub-continental mutual assurances with the wider restraints system. Neither Pakistan nor India exists by itself. Each of them is beholden in many ways to other regions, international groups and states. Towards this end, sanctions from say, Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) would hit either of them hard. Both Pakistan and India depend highly on OPEC markets and oil. However, this policy alternative risks the danger of non-disclosure due to the simmering mutual suspicion between the two countries. If this is done bereft of caution and sensitivity through unilateral declarations, it may be disastrous. Both Pakistan and India run the risk of selective superpower counterattacks against any of the offending country. Moreover, with the increasing military superiority in the world, global powers can choose non-interference if for instance, intervention would sabotage their regional and local interests.

The increasing nuclear proliferation in South Asia offers both unique and general lessons as to comprehending the non-proliferation. In spite of the immense restraints envisioned by the new nuclear regime coupled with civilian nuclear materials and technology availability, it is clear that Pakistan and India have the will and choice to adopt dedicated facilities towards nuclear capability.  Due to commercial considerations, negligence and connivance, it is impractical to achieve complete nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Expenditures and costs remain little concerns to nations determined to acquire and develop nuclear weapons. Countries can choose to forswear nuclear weapons to acquire convectional weapons. 

Were Pakistan to go nuclear, South Asia may become a completely different place. However, it is important to devise ways through which the consequences of such an eventuality could be contained. For this reason, system-imposed restraints would help contain the dangers. Moreover, it is important for both Pakistan and India to join NTA. Luckily for India, the current general capabilities and resources imbalance will continue working in its favor. Pakistan and India can learn from Warsaw Pact and NATO countries about living and prospering in the troubling reality of nuclear proliferation.

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