Tweaking Harpoon is Serious Says U.S.
Nuclear weapons act as a deterrent but have never been used in any war after the infamous US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The world would not witness another nuclear holocaust as every country in the world has pledged to keep the world free of nuclear attacks. Armed to the teeth, both US and Russia never used these weapons even at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis. Then why is Pakistan stockpiling nuclear arsenals?
Reports emanating from reliable scientific studies are scary. Pakistan is rapidly increasing its lethal weapons numbering around 70-90. They have sophisticated bomb designs and smart delivery systems aimed primarily at India. Pakistan President Zardari refused to be drawn into the controversy but said why should Pak increase or stockpile nuclear weapons. Behind that wry smile, Zardari was certainly hiding something about his country’s nuclear ambitions. The world is not willing to believe the rogue nation, given the danger associated with the arsenals falling into the wrong hands.
Writing for the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Hans M Kristensen cited the latest Nuclear Notebook published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to highlight Pakistan’s expansion of its nuclear warheads. Two types of nuclear-capable cruise missiles are also under development – the ground-launched Barbur and the air-launched Ra-ad, Kristensen said.
Kriestensen went on to say that Pak Scientists were able to miniaturize nuclear warheads by using plutonium. These are lighter and easier to handle. India’s nuclear arsenal is largely plutonium based. Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility are also under construction by Pakistan. Pakistan’s arsenals are definitely India-specific for it has not declared any other adversary.
In the meantime, the U.S. has taken “very seriously” the report of Pakistan’s illegal modification made in US-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Dismayed over the latest violation of the agreement, the US has proposed to make mutually agreed inspections and Pakistan readily accepted the US offer.
India, has sufficient nuke reserves, but security experts said this was a warning that India needed to get its act together.
“Here is a sinking state, propped by US aid and Chinese technology, which still has an advanced nuclear progamme. On the other hand India, seen to be a rising power, is still struggling to come to meet its requirements especially vis-a-vis the Chinese. Pakistan has in fact stolen a march over India as far as missile development is concerned”, says Strategis affairs expert Brahma Chellaney (vide p.11 TOI 2.9.09).
Now the broader question here is, when nuclear arms are not meant to be used anywhere in the world, why is there a nuclear arms race in the region triggered by Pakistan’s latest design? They were certainly not meant to be used against the Taliban in the on-going fight with them. They are India-specific and India is also not far behind, as it has sufficient nukes to protect itself. When bigger nations like US and Russia did not use any of the nuclear weapon in the past even during the height of a “Missile crisis” or the following years of “cold war” nor any other nuclear country such as China, Germany, France for that matter Israel, the frenzied speed to acquire nukes makes Pakistan’s intentions suspicious.
The UN remains a toothless organisation, silently watching the developments and the nuclear race from the sidelines. It allows the US to act as a global policeman. Even the US did not stop Pakistan from going nuclear or curb its nuclear weapons programme. This is too dangerous not only to the region but also to the world.
It is particularly dangerous with Pakistan, because it is threatened time and again by rogue elements in the Taliban to take possession of the Pak nukes. They even attacked the entry points to an important Pakistani nuke facility in the past. Given the situation which Pakistan is in. due to Taliban incursions, what is the guarantee that the nukes may not fall into the wrong hands. Pakistan’s assertion that the nukes are safe and secure is questionable.
What could be done now? Either Pakistan should allow US or IAEA to inspect the sites or hand over all the weapons to US for safe custody. They may raise a question of the country’s sovereignty. But this can be compromised instead of letting the nukes falling into the wrong hands that would endanger the entire humanity in the region. Today, the sub-continent is dangerously poised and something has to be done to rein in the rogue nation Pakistan going crazy with stockpiling nuclear arsenals disproportionately.
The only country which can stop Pakistan is the U.S. and not China, which is equally guilty of supplying major components and reactors to that country.
There is no need to worry what India can do in this situation but to upgrade all its weapons to match with Pakistan’s latest nukes. India’s Brahmos would certainly be an answer to Pakistan’s modified Harpoon missile. It is said Brahmos is the world’s finest weapon. It can travel three times the speed of sound, is capable of destroying ships and targets on land. “It is the fastest and most precise cruise-missile in the world,” affirms Pravin Pathak, Additional GM BrahMos Aerospace.
India has more to be concerned with build up in the region and surrounded on all sides by China with sea-bases starting from Chittagong to a base in Pakistan. Jai Hind.