7 Items

Political activists wave the Pakistani national flag in front of the Martyrs' Memorial monument in Lahore on Sept. 6, 2020


Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Did Pakistan Just Overhaul Its Nuclear Doctrine?

| June 19, 2023

As Pakistan celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first nuclear tests last month, it also appeared to share more details than usual about its current nuclear posture. Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on May 24, retired Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai provided new details of Pakistan’s otherwise ambiguous nuclear doctrine. What Kidwai says matters because he is currently an advisor to the country’s National Command Authority (NCA), which controls research and development and all other policy matters concerning nuclear weapons. He’s also the former director-general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is responsible for formulating nuclear policy and strategy as well as the security of nuclear assets.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General, met Faizan Mansoor, Chairman, Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority during his official visit to the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria. 24 March 2023.


Journal Article - International Journal of Nuclear Security

Assessing Nuclear Security Risks in Pakistan

| June 2023

Pakistan’s nuclear program and perceived nuclear security concerns have attracted global attention. The varying concerns range from the potential theft of nuclear weapons or materials to the unauthorized use of a nuclear device to terrorist groups taking control of the Pakistani government. The enduring debate, however, has oscillated between these doomsday scenarios and some optimistic considerations, where various quarters have shared their satisfaction over Pakistan’s nuclear security regime and its ability to deal with the emerging challenges. To address the evolving nature of these threats, Pakistan is constantly improving its nuclear security infrastructure. It has established a comprehensive legislative and institutional structure, nuclear security systems, and has also undertaken various international obligations. To further improve nuclear security perceptions, Pakistan should adopt a more transparent approach and learn from international best practices.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested a New Generation Nuclear Capable Ballistic Missile Agni P from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam island off the coast of Odisha, in Balasore on June 28, 2021.

Press Information Bureau on behalf of Ministry of Defence, Government of India

Analysis & Opinions - Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament

25 Years Since South Asia's Nuclear Tests

| May 23, 2023

Ruhee Neog

Assuming that nuclear weapons are going to be around for the foreseeable future, I hope to see more focus on managing India and Pakistan’s growing risk environment, particularly those risks that could increase the probability of nuclear use. For this, I would expect examinations of bilateral (and trilateral, to include China) nuclear dynamics to be contextualised in at least three broader trends. The first is geopolitical. We acknowledge, narrowly, that US nuclear developments have an impact on the Chinese capability build-up; China’s on Indian strategic thinking; and thereon on Pakistan’s nuclear trajectory. What our research lacks is an equal recognition of the role of geopolitics—such as US-China relations and its impact on regional security, or the Russia-Ukraine war—in shaping the nuclear strategies of states like India and Pakistan. The second is demystifying the emerging military applications of technologies and their ramifications for nuclear deterrence, as both India and Pakistan are engaged in multi-faceted technological development. The third broad trend is nuclear nationalism. Keeping an eye on how identity politics interfaces with the two other trends (geopolitics and emerging technologies) will be key to deciphering nuclear risk and assessing the demands of risk absorption in Southern Asia.


Sitara Noor

Since the overt nuclearization in 1998, both India and Pakistan have come a long way in their nuclear learning process. Although heavily influenced by the Cold War experiences of the United States and the former Soviet Union, the nuclear learning process of New Delhi and Islamabad was not linear and carried both positive and negative aspects. Over the past 25 years, both nuclear rivals have gradually increased the number of nuclear weapons, diversified their delivery means, established command and control systems, and consolidated their nuclear policies to a greater extent. Nonetheless, they have largely gone against the contention of nuclear revolution theory that mutual vulnerability created by nuclear weapons will significantly alter the state behaviour leading to more cooperation among states to stabilize deterrence.  Unlike the Cold War model, India and Pakistan have failed to achieve strategic stability or establish some bilateral risk reduction measures. On the contrary, the recent Pulwama/Balakot crisis indicated a higher threshold for risk acceptance by both states.

Going forward, this behaviour indicates a precarious future where any miscalculation may lead to a serious crisis. In the next 25 years, South Asia is likely to witness a competitive nuclear approach that is already manifesting in the form of attempts to acquire nuclear superiority through the development of missile defence system, adoption of counterforce doctrines, the revival of limited nuclear war pursuits as well as the willingness to fight a conventional war under the nuclear overhang.

In the absence of meaningful political dialogue to resolve bilateral issues including Kashmir and alleged terrorism against one another and lack of effective communication channels to reduce the chance of inadvertent war,  the risk of any future crisis escalating to the nuclear level remains high.

The Ghauri–I (first on right) display at the IDEAS exhibition held in Karachi, mounted in its TEL launch mechanism. c. 2008.

Wikimedia Commons

Journal Article - International Affairs

Book Review: Pakistan's pathway to the bomb: ambitions, politics, and rivalries

| May 02, 2023

Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme has largely remained shrouded in mystery, despite numerous scholars’ efforts to uncover various aspects of the country's nuclear odyssey. In the absence of complete and credible information, such as declassified official documents on the programme's various dimensions, most of the available literature offers an incomplete picture. Indeed, the existing narratives lack a detailed explanation of the competing motives of the various personalities, and the role of the organizations that shaped the country's nuclear trajectory. In this context, Mansoor Ahmed's Pakistan's pathway to the bomb offers a riveting new account that puts together some of the missing pieces in Pakistan's nuclear journey. Based on untapped primary sources, namely an interview with Munir Ahmed Khan, the long-serving chair of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Ahmed's work provides a compelling counter-narrative to various popular yet inaccurate beliefs.

The 2010 nuclear security summit in Washington, DC, was aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism.

The White House

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Why Biden’s New Nuclear Security Agenda Might Not Work as Planned

| Apr. 04, 2023

Early in March, the Biden administration unveiled its 19th National Security Memorandum. While the operational part of this memorandum is classified, the White House shared a factsheet on the new strategy, which is centered around three main pillars: countering weapons of mass destruction terrorism, advancing nuclear material security, and improving radioactive material security. The three-pronged strategy aims to reinvigorate long-standing approaches to risks from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and nuclear security and introduce new ways to deal with emerging threats.

President Joe Biden participates in his first official press conference Thursday, March 25, 2021, in the East Room of the White House.

(Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Biden’s Strategic Reviews: Implications for Global Security

| Dec. 10, 2022

This fall, the Biden administration released four important policy document reviews, providing a fresh insight into the United States’ strategic thinking. On October 12, the White House released the latest  National Security Strategy (NSS) of the Biden administration. Two weeks later, on October 27, the U.S. Department of Defense jointly released the unclassified versions of three other much-anticipated policy documents: the National Defense Strategy, (NDS) the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and the Missile Defense Review (MDR).