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Pakistan Flexes its Nuclear Arm in Latest Ballistic Demonstration

Pakistan Flexes its Nuclear Arm in Latest Ballistic Demonstration

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With an ambiguous nuclear policy, Pakistan has nevertheless consistently levelled with India’s nuclear posturing efforts.

In its efforts to maintain Credible Minimum Deterrence, Pakistan currently leads in its stockpiling of nuclear warheads, according to an assessment by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on Monday, reported The Times of India.

According to the report, Islamabad has 140-150 nuclear warheads, as compared to 130 nuclear warheads owned by New Delhi, with the latest developments in the medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The 1300-km range Ghauri/Haft-V missiles were test-fired Monday, October 8th 2018, less than a week after India test-launched its own interceptor missile.

While India has long established its no-first-use policy, Pakistan too has persistently sought deterrence stability in the region, noted the Foreign Office while signalling its willingness to consider measures for risk reduction and avoidance of arms race in the region in a press release earlier this year.

Despite global cynicism over Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, defence authorities have time and again emphasized the nation’s commitment to responsible use of nuclear technology. Last year’s National Command Authority (NCA) concluded with a statement on playing a “positive role towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as a provider of expertise and services in peaceful nuclear application”.

Chasma nuclear power plant

The press release by the Foreign Office last month further emphasized nuclear technology as a means of reducing its dependency on fossil fuels and taking responsibility for and action against climate change,

“Being one of the most affected countries due to the impact of climate change, Pakistan plans to increase its nuclear power generation capacity…as a clean and cost-effective alternative to fossil fuel. Pakistan looks forward to… meeting the legitimate socio-economic development needs of its people.”

As the 7th largest nuclear weapons state, Pakistan’s nuclear program has been subject to unwarranted criticism about its nuclear safety record in the past. However, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General, Yukiya Amano seemed satisfied by the standards Pakistan is maintaining at the various civilian nuclear facilities and installations he visited.

Amano, while addressing a seminar in Karachi earlier this year, said,

“Your country [Pakistan] is an experienced user of peaceful nuclear technology.”

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

Pakistan has been operating five nuclear power plants since 1966 and has most recently committed USD 13 billion towards the construction of three additional plants. Anticipating rising energy demands, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) aims to increase nuclear energy capacity to supply a quarter of the country’s electricity by 2030.

While speaking about his visit to the under-construction facilities, the IAEA chief remarked,

“You [Pakistan] are taking a lot of care for the safety and security of the plants.”

He concluded his speech saying,

“Your country needs more energy and is committed to nuclear security at all levels and it is most importantly cooperating with the IAEA.”

With its impeccable record of responsibly managing nuclear technology, we of the region can safely assume that Pakistan will maintain its focus on alleviating its power crisis. As for its latest Ghauri stint, let’s just leave that to sibling rivalry. 

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