Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, has confirmed what many already knew: Pakistan’s nuclear program is mainly a deterrent against India’s conventional and nuclear military capability.
“Our nuclear program is one dimensional: stopping Indian aggression before it happens. It is not for starting a war. It is for deterrence.”
One might not take notice of this seemingly common-sense statement, as so-called MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) has characterized the world’s nuclear arms race since the Cold War. As of 2010, the number of nuclear warheads in the world stands at approximately twenty-six thousand. These weapons are enough to destroy all life on Earth hundreds of times over and even alter the Earth’s North Pole by one quarter of an inch.
However, what is at issue in the latest press release by Pakistan is not the huge blasts that the largest nuclear bomb could release, but rather so-called “tactical nukes,” i.e. low-yield nuclear weapons, which are smaller bombs designed to obliterate bunkers and armor.
— The Express Tribune (@etribune) October 21, 2015
Tactical nukes have purportedly been used in the Ukraine, Yemen and Syria, as illustrated below:
WTF.. Did the Israelis just use some of their Nukes?? http://t.co/e6OevlQF9v
— James Russell Kalles (@JimKalles) October 17, 2015
To get an idea of the comparison of various nuclear bomb yields, Nuclear Darkness has created the following chart.
According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), “precision low-yield strikes” are being considered as a regular deployment option for NATO.
“In Europe, the new guided tail kit would increase the targeting capability of the nuclear weapons assigned to NATO by giving them a target kill capability similar to that of the high-yield B61-7, a weapon that is not currently deployed in Europe.”
In a 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the US commitment to NATO could be bolstered by the development and deployment of tactical nukes despite the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which prevents the further development of the high-yield variety.
The arms war between India and Pakistan, however, has some people worried as tensions between these two countries have led to both sides falling into what political scientists call a “prisoner’s dilemma,” whereby the defection of one side (starting a war) is perceived as better than being caught off guard by a first strike by the other. In simple terms, each side wants to establish that they are willing and capable of launching a first strike that would obliterate the other side before it had a chance to respond.
In fact, Pakistan blames India’s so-called “Cold Start doctrine.”
“Central to [India’s] Cold Start is a synergetic effort aimed at the destruction of Pakistan’s military potential without much collateral damage.”
“Our argument is, when you are a nuclear power, you do not create spaces for war. War is no more an option. We have plugged the gap India had created. We have the right to do so.”
With increasing escalation of military tensions around the world, one might wonder if either India or Pakistan has the right to increase the use of nuclear weapons — whatever their size — which cause not only collateral damage, but also years of consequences to human health.
[Photo Courtesy of the Federal government of the United States via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and Resized | CIC 0315864]