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Shaheen-3 missile to cover Indian second strike from Andaman: Lt General Khalid Kidwai

Pakistan has developed the 2750 km range Shaheen-3 missile to prevent India from gaining a second-strike nuclear capability.

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: March 24, 2015 5:58:23 am
shaheed 2 missile, pakistan missile, indo-pak A Pakistani Shaheen II missile is displayed during the Pakistan National Day parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, March 23, 2015. (Source: AP Photo)

Shaheen-3, Khalid Kidwai, Nuclear capability, India, Pakistan, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Nuclear weapon, NSG, Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, US, SPD, Nuclear program,

Pakistan has developed the 2,750 km range Shaheen-3 missile to prevent India from gaining a second-strike nuclear capability from Andaman and Nicobar islands, said Lt General (retd) Khalid Kidwai, former head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons division.

Addressing the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference 2015 in Washington DC, Kidwai said one sided policies of the United States favouring India – like the NSG exemption for the nuclear deal – have been a destabilizing factor for South Asia. These US policies are unhelpful and unacceptable to Pakistan, he said.

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Kidwai is currently advisor to Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) and was the pioneer Director General of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which he headed for an unprecedented 15 years till December 2013 – with an unheard of 12 extensions after his retirement from the army. As the head of SPD, Kidwai is credited with conceiving, articulating and executing Pakistan’s nuclear policy and deterrence doctrines into a tangible and robust nuclear force structure.

Kidwai said that Pakistan’s nuclear program isn’t open-ended and it has been designed to deter India. In response to a question on the number of nuclear bombs that will be enough for Pakistan, he refused to divulge the exact numbers by suggesting that Pakistan follows the policy of nuclear ambiguity and revealing numbers would be against it. Kidwai added that Pakistan had already moved from minimumdeterrence to full spectrum deterrence and the current numbers will be more or less fine for the next 10-15 years. As per the estimates of Arms Control Association, Pakistan currently has between 100 to 120 nuclear warheads as compared to India’s 90-110 warheads.

Kidwai said that nuclear buildup in South Asia “has made war as an instrument of policy almost unthinkable.” He also defended Pakistan’s quest for Nasr shoot-and-scoot missile system by arguing that introducing a variety of tactical nuclear weapons has deterred India’s conventional capability. He said that Pakistan had developed these weapons in response to India’s Cold Start strategy. As these tactical nuclear weapons are mounted on short distance missiles, their command and control is delegated to lower levels in the military. This delegation, with lesser checks and balances, raises concerns about the safety and security of the nuclear warheads.

Kidwai revealed that operation control of nuclear weapons is with the SPD and NCA although some day to day delegation has been made to the three defence services.

Kidwai questioned that when the Indian space program with ICBM potential doesn’t trouble anybody, why does the development of a Shaheen-3 missile by Pakistan bother everyone. “Why aren’t India’s nukes and missiles troublesome?,” he asked.

Kidwai also revealed that Pakistan’s sea-based second strike capability is a “work in progress” and will come into play in the next few years. Ruling out nuclear submarines for Pakistan, he said “I won’t say nuclear submarines, but if broadly talking about a second-strike capability for which submarines are a platform, yes.”

India operates a nuclear submarine, INS Chakra and is currently testing another indigenously developed nuclear submarine, INS Arihant.

On Pakistan Army’s connections with extremist militant groups, Kidwai said that these issues are remnants of historical superpower games in South Asia. “To say that I should tell my colleagues not to get involved is too simplistic and naive, it is the historic reality which dictates this need,” Kidwai argued.

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