US think-tank concerned over ‘threat’ to India


Congressional Research Service (CRS), the US Congress’ bipartisan think-tank for legal and political analysis, has warned in its latest report on Pakistan’s nuclear programme that growing asymmetry in Indo-Pak conventional military capabilities could lead Islamabad to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons, Indian media said on Sunday.
The report said the Pakistani government might consider fielding lower-yield nuclear weapons to increase the credibility of its nuclear deterrent against Indian conventional military operations. “In addition to making qualitative and quantitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal, Pakistan could increase the number of circumstances under which it would be willing to use its nuclear weapons,” says the report titled “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues”.
As it was, Pakistan’s nuclear posture was deliberately unclear with ill-defined red lines, the report said. The intent was to keep India and the world guessing under what circumstances the nuclear button would be pressed: the imminent collapse of the Pakistani state, a massive attack on its cities or even reverses near the border.
The report said Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal consisted of 90-110 warheads, “although it could be larger”, against India’s 60-100. While acknowledging that Pakistan had taken a series of steps to prevent proliferation of nuclear technologies and material, leading to improvement in nuclear security, it said instability in the country had raised a question mark over the “extent and durability” of these reforms, expressing fear of proliferation by radical sympathisers in Pakistan’s nuclear establishment.
“While US and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards,” it said. The report went on to say that Pakistan was not just producing more fissile material but also deploying additional delivery vehicles.