Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapon: Conflict Redux

Gurmeet Kanwal and Monika Chansoria

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Tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs), often referred to as “battlefield”, “sub-strategic”, or “non-strategic” nuclear weapons, usually have a plutonium core and are typically distinct from strategic nuclear weapons. Therefore, they warrant a separate consideration in the realm of nuclear security. The yield of such weapons is generally lower than that of strategic nuclear weapons and may range from the relatively low 0.1 kiloton to a few kilotons.

Pakistan’s quest to acquire tactical nuclear weapons has added a dangerous dimension to the already precarious strategic equation in South Asia. The security discourse in the subcontinent revolves around the perennial apprehension of a conventional or sub- conventional conflict triggering a chain reaction, eventually paving the way for a potential nuclear crisis haunting peace and stability in the region. Pakistan believes that the successful testing of the 60-km nuclear-capable short- range missile Hatf IX (Nasr) “adds deterrence value to Pakistan’s strategic weapons development programme at shorter ranges.”

In paradox, the fact remains that this step has further lowered Pakistan’s nuclear threshold through the likely use of TNWs. The introduction of TNWs into the tactical battle area further exacerbates credibility of their control. Pakistan has not formally declared a nuclear doctrine, but it is well known that nuclear weapons are its first line of defence. The use of TNWs in the India- Pakistan case will alter the strategic scenario completely as Pakistan would threaten India with the use of TNWs in the event of New Delhi responding against Islamabad with a conventional strike in reaction to a 26/11-style terrorist attack. Pakistan forgets that given its offensive strategic posture and continuing involvement in terror strikes in India, it is New Delhi which is confronted with the problem of developing a strategy to counter Pakistan’s “first-strike” and proxy war in light of its declared “no- first-use” policy.

This edited volume attempts to address and decipher complex issues including aspects such as China’s WMD collaboration with Pakistan, nuclear command and control dynamics within Pakistan, overall rationale and implications of TNWs, safety and security of nuclear weapons, scenarios for nuclear usage, India’s potential response options and more specifically, the technical aspects of the Nasr delivery system.

Gurmeet Kanwal and Monika Chansoria Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd) commanded an infantry brigade on the Line of Control (Operation Parakram, 2001-03) and an artillery regiment in counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley (Operation Rakshak, 1993-94). He is former Director, Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi and presently is Adjunct Fellow, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. He has also served as Deputy Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Doctrine, Organisation and Training) at HQ IDS; Director MO-5 in the Directorate General of Military Operations at Army Headquarters (dealing with threat, strategy and force structure); United Nations Military Observer in UNTAG, Namibia; Brigade Major of an infantry brigade and, Instructor-in-Gunnery at the School of Artillery, Devlali. Brig Kanwal has authored several books, including Nuclear Defence: Shaping the Arsenal; Indian Army: Vision 2020; Pakistan’s Proxy War; Heroes of Kargil; Kargil ‘99: Blood, Guts and Firepower and Artillery: Honour and Glory and writes on national security issues for leading journals and newspapers.

Dr. Monika Chansoria is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, New Delhi and holds a Post-Doctorate in International Relations from the French Foundation of Humanities and Sciences, Paris, in 2007-08. Besides, she has been a recipient of various prestigious international academic fellowships including the 2012 Senior Visiting Fellowship by the Cooperative Monitoring Center, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, USA and the Japanese Global Chair of Excellence Fellowship at the Hokkaido University, Japan. Dr. Chansoria also holds the 2010 French Senior Fellowship granted by the Foundation of Humanities and Sciences, Paris, as a Visiting Professor and Associate Director of Studies. Dr. Chansoria has authored several books including China: Military Modernisation and Strategy (2011); Chinese WMD Proliferation in Asia: US Response (2009); and co-authored Afghanistan: India’s Strategic Stakes (2010). She regularly participates in various Track II diplomatic dialogues in India and abroad in addition to writing a regular column on international politics and strategic affairs for The Sunday Guardian newspaper.

 

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