Tuesday, 17 September 2019

US think tank rules out possibility of Indo-Pak nuclear war

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KARACHI: A US-based think tank has ruled out the possibility of an all-out nuclear war between nuclear-armed states in Asia.

Atlantic Council in its new report, ‘Asia in the Second Nuclear Age’ maintained that Pakistan, China and India, despite being enmeshed in a complex rivalry, “are stakeholders in the existing international order, and are committed to an open economic order and multilateral institutionalism.”

Rejecting the nuclear pessimism in Western capitals, the report said the nuclear ‘sky is falling’ argument, is simply not supported by the evidence, at least when evidence is embedded in its proper context.

However, the report maintained, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapon programme has the capability of escalating conventional war into an all-out nuclear war.

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The difference between China, India and Pakistan’s nuclear capability and what drives their programmes has been scribed in detail after conducting workshops in the capitals of those countries.

The Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center conducted three workshops in Delhi, Islamabad and Beijing in the the fall of 2016, with the objective of drawing academics, policy practitioners, and analysts in each country to discuss the unfolding nuclear dynamics in the region. All three workshops had a common theme: Assessing Nuclear Futures in Asia.

Under this broad theme, workshop participants tackled three specific subjects: the general nature of the strategic competition in Indo-Pacific region; the philosophical approaches shaping nuclear developments in China, India and Pakistan; and the hardware and operational characteristics of their nuclear forces.

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It was maintained that Pakistan is rapidly accumulating fissile material, which could increase to 450 kilogram of plutonium, sufficient for 90 weapons, and more than 2,500-kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU), sufficient for 100 simple fission warheads by 2020.

India, meanwhile, is accumulating approximately 16.6-kg of fissile material annually, sufficient for a force of approximately 150-200 warheads, though all fissile material is probably not converted into nuclear warheads.

China, however, is no longer producing fissile material. It is only modestly increasing the size of its arsenal, from 264 to 314 warheads. The size of the Chinese, Indian and Pakistani arsenals will remain a function of the calculations of damage ratios that each believes essential to achieve deterrence.

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