The US has asked Pakistan and all other nuclear-armed countries to exercise “restraint” in expanding their nuclear capabilities after two American think-tanks said Pakistan could have the third largest stockpile of atomic weapons in about a decade.
“We continue to urge all nuclear-capable states, including Pakistan, to exercise restraint regarding furthering their nuclear capabilities,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said yesterday.
He was responding to a question on a latest report by two top American think-tanks, according to which in a decade or so, Pakistan would have more than 350 nuclear weapons that would be the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons after the United States and Russia.
The 48-page report titled “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan” by two renowned scholars Tom Dalton and Michael Krepon of Stimson Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – says that the growth path of the country’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by its officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices.
The report said that Pakistan will retain its capabilities for the foreseeable future as a necessary deterrent against perceived existential threats from India.
“At this juncture, Pakistan’s military leadership in Rawalpindi can choose to accept success in achieving a strategic deterrent against India — a nuclear force posture sufficient to prevent limited nuclear exchanges and a major conventional war,” it said.
“Alternatively, it can choose to continue to compete with India in the pursuit of full spectrum deterrence, which would entail open-ended nuclear requirements against targets both near and far from Pakistan. These choices would lead Pakistan to two starkly different nuclear futures and places in the global nuclear order,” the report added.
The report also said that Pakistan consider five nuclear weapon-related initiatives including shifting declaratory policy from “full spectrum” to “strategic” deterrence, and committing to a recessed deterrence posture and limit production of short-range delivery vehicles and tactical nuclear weapons.
It also proposed that Islamabad will lift Pakistan’s veto on Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations and reduce or stop fissile material production, separate civilian and military nuclear facilities and sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without waiting for India.
“Having succeeded in achieving the requirements of strategic deterrence, Pakistan is in a position to consider nuclear-weapon-related initiatives that would not impair Pakistan’s ability to deter existential threats,” the report said.
“Taking even some of the five initiatives we propose would clarify Pakistan’s commitment to adopt similar practices as other normal nuclear states. They would facilitate investments, both military and nonmilitary, that would address Pakistan’s national, social, and economic security interests in more practical ways,” it said.
“They would reduce risks of escalation that could lead to nuclear war. And they could facilitate Pakistan’s entrance into the nuclear mainstream, while strengthening nonproliferation norms, bolstering global disarmament hopes, and setting the bar higher for new entrants into the NSG,” the report said.