April 11, 2010Foreign AffairsIndianuclear proliferationnuclear terrorismnuclear weaponsPakistanSecurityUnited States

The nuclear arms race that Pakistan is running

…is not as much against India as it is against Iran (by proxy)

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

That old canard is being repeated again. Pakistan, we are told, is cranking up a fissile material because because India has the power to mount a lightning invasion with conventional forces” and that the India-US nuclear deal frees up older facilities that India can devote to making its own new generation of weapons”. But you would expect the New York Times to lose objectivity and journalistic scepticism of official claims and take its old dogmatic non-proliferation’ line on these matters, when even President Barack Obama says that the danger is about nuclear terrorism.

Now, to contend that there is an arms race between India and Pakistan requires the presentation of two bits of evidence. First, that Pakistan is cranking up its production of fissile materials in response to, second, the growth in India’s. Now, satellite images have shown that Pakistan is activating new reactors and production facilities—built with China’s grandfathering assistance, so check the first requirement.

But where is evidence of the other runner in the race? India, it turns out, has not built a single reprocessing facility over the last decade, despite having the capability to do so. When you consider this, you realise that the claim that Pakistan is running an arms race because of India” is spurious. It requires either analytical laziness or intellectual dishonesty or both to make such a claim.

Worse, it distracts attention from the real reasons why Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex might be producing fissile material and warheads.

There are two serious possibilities: first, that it is building them for Saudi Arabia so that they can be transferred to Riyadh’s operational control should Iran weaponise its nuclear capability; and second, that it is building a secret second arsenal away from American scrutiny. [See this post and op-ed for details]

Papers like the New York Times will not publish reports about a Pakistan-Saudi nuclear nexus for want of citable evidence. Strangely, they do not require the same standards when it comes to asserting that India is running a nuclear arms race.

The real tragedy has to be the fact that when Mr Obama wants to discuss nuclear terrorism, the biggest risk (not least for the United States)—of Pakistan’s possible secret second arsenal falling into the control of some extreme elements of its military-jihadi complex—goes unnoticed and without comment. There’s a precedent for this: throughout the 1990s, US analysts and newspapers were focussed on the India-Pakistan rivalry’ over Kashmir, totally ignoring Pakistan’s nexus with al-Qaeda until one day in the month of September, 2001.



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