Cold Tests & Cold Start

Pakistan's Nuclear capability - Questions & Answers By Brig(Rtd) Samson Simon


I felt it was time to give a correction course to Pakistan’s Nuclear Debate by someone who conceived and authored Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy. My opinion in Nation. Ahmad Jawad

In a world embroiled in events like Syria, Iraq, Panama Papers and US elections, pressure being built on Pakistan over its nuclear program gets away unnoticed. On Pakistan’s part, two declarations are clear and indicate the limited nature of its nuclear intentions. Pakistan is still willing to sign an agreement on a Nuclear Free South Asia. Secondly, Pakistan’s choice of ‘First Use’ is India specific against a conventional military threat.
To the contrary, by raising temperatures on the nuclear capabilities of Pakistan, big powers ignore the asymmetrical threats they themselves pose to the word through their proxies. Though nuclear weapons deter and dissuade military conflicts, the conflict itself moves into other forms and manifestations that operate much below the nuclear threshold. Pakistan is under relentless intense siege of other forms of warfare that includes Cold Blood.
India supported by its nuclear allies that dominate the Nuclear Suppliers Group links its nuclear capability to threats from China. China’s nuclear capability is linked beyond India to USA. Though Pakistan is alleged to benefit from Chinese capability in weapon designs and delivery systems, India enjoys a far bigger international cooperation in production, supplies and shielding of nuclear research. Indian surveillance and defence capabilities are built around Israeli and Russian capabilities that Pakistan does not match. India’s Russian high altitude long endurance bombers permit India to provoke limited conflicts under a nuclear shadow. This bolsters India’s residual strike. India’s nuclear agreement with USA is an implied nuclear umbrella. USA looks the other way on India’s Thorium based production reactors that produce fissile plutonium with a different isotope. India’s satellite launch platforms have never become part of an intense international debate.
To the contrary, Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities remain a source of concern. The charge sheet is led by India and its lobby in USA, that Pakistan though averting a conventional conflict through nuclear posturing keeps open options on use of non-state actors for policy pursuits. Many research organisations call Pakistan an unstable state. In words of President Obama, Pakistan is dysfunctional. But his comment stops here and does not dilate on Whys and Hows. Does this comment manifest the aspect of bad governance or a purportedly lopsided civil-military relationship? The debate on this comment is endless and suffices to say that Pakistan is under threat from non-kinetic instruments of destabilisation of diverse forms through state and non-state actors already discussed in the past columns. It is just recent that a huge network of RAW headed by a serving military officer has been busted in Pakistan. On ground, Pakistan’s involvement with non-state actors if accepted is far outweighed by those who preach the gospel.
Nuclear analysts and critics must realise that Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998 sent a clear message on Pakistan’s capabilities and intentions. There is no other message left to be conveyed. Pakistan exploded a conventional fission device, a miniaturised fission device and plutonium boosted weapons. Pakistan could have moved beyond this capability but stopped short to maintain ambivalence. Beyond this assertion, Pakistan had done nothing more.
This assertion meant that Pakistan was looking forward to a long run of armed peace to concentrate on its development. But the entire matrix misfired. For some reasons, the Prime Minster ceased the foreign currency accounts putting Pakistan’s economy in a tailspin. Once Panama Papers reach the right conclusions, many leads could lead to why foreign currency accounts were seized and prior how much was parked offshore. He sacked a military chief who advocated institutionalism in strategic decision making. He deprived the entire political opposition of space. Pushed to a corner, the military reacted.
Ever since, though Pakistan has progressed with resilience on its conventional and nuclear capability, the regression and plight in other elements of national power is precarious. The world does not wish to see a credible, self-sufficient and self-reliant nuclear Pakistan and there are many within who wish to oblige.  Hence the heroic role of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in Zarb e Azb is downplayed nationally and internationally. They despite their limited resources have attained what the most modern armies of the world with state of art technologies have failed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather countries like Libya, Iraq and Syria have been destroyed. The glaring difference in these contrasts is not the capability but the intention and credibility of missions. Pakistan is focussed.
Nuclear doves in Pakistan may pick themes from ‘Normal Nuclear Pakistan’ by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace or others to open debates on CTBT and FMCT. But the fact is that from a technological point of view this debate is closed. They must recall that ideas of the same nature were floated by the same organisation for cooling down the Line of Control in the name of CBMs; but well short of any workable solution on Kashmir. The cooling of the Line of Control of Control rather than give respite to the people of Indian occupied Kashmir strengthened India’s hold over the disputed region. Pakistanis must know that CTBT and FMCT are irrelevant as long as the world does not move with credible intentions towards global disarmament. The start point can be provided by disarmament talks between India and Pakistan.
Ever since Cold Tests and Internal Confinement Fusions have become technologically advanced, countries can still check the half-lives of Uranium and Thorium based plutonium for weapon designs. As demonstrated by North Korea, it is now possible to blanket nuclear explosions through shielding. Now that Iran has already signed an agreement and North Korea remains out of control, no other country of the world will be foolhardy to begin a new round of conventional nuclear testing. This is the main reason why USA stays away from CTBT.
As regards FMCT, nuclear technological developments have over taken the conventional enrichment levels for weaponised fissile materials. As Cold Testing proves, much smaller quantities can be tested extremely accurately. So the levels of enrichment levels will always have technological bypass in neutron generation techniques, power and propulsion reactors.
Do USA and its nuclear allies aim to commit Pakistan on a slippery slope with no anchors? Unfortunately there are buyers in the establishment but Pakistan must reject it. Cooling Off of Line of Control is a case study that strengthened India’s hold over the occupied territory. The same applies to this incremental approach.
Unlike the realist world drowned in ultra-capitalism; a world where economic frontiers of powerful nations lie vulnerable to floating capital and where corporates enunciate political agendas, Pakistan is making an earnest effort at a Peace Deterrence. Nuclear weapons after 1945 will never become weapons of war. They are as Bernhard Brodie once said, ‘Weapons of Peace’ that deter aggression. Through projections of Nasr and Shaheens, Pakistan is just reiterating Peace.
No Indian statesman worth his salt will dare Cold Start Style. Pakistanis beware! There is a Cold Blood operating within.

Samson Simon Sharaf