September 7, 2013

Pakistani PM Sharif supports development of new nuclear weapons

April 19, 2011 test of Hatf-IX (NASR) one of Pakistan's newest limited yield, small warhead, battlefield range ballistic missiles (BRBMs) . Catchy soundtrack for such a cold business!

Between one and six Hatf-IXs (NASRs) can be carried on transporter erector launchers (TELs).

US think-tank NTI's Global Security Newswire reports, September 6, 2013 :

"Pakistani Leader Backs Military's Pursuit of 'Full-Spectrum Deterrence'"

"Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday gave his backing to a plan to continue developing new nuclear-weapon capabilities, DAWN reported.

“Pakistan would not remain oblivious to evolving security dynamics in South Asia and would maintain a full-spectrum deterrence capability to deter all forms of aggression,” the government reportedly said in a statement released following the meeting of the National Command Authority, which Sharif chairs.

This week's meeting of the NCA body -- which has policy oversight over the country's nuclear arsenal -- was Sharif's first since he was elected prime minister in June, after having presided over the nation in earlier terms until a 1999 military coup. Some have anticipated since Sharif's election that he would work to lower tensions with longtime nuclear rival India.

The authority's endorsement of continued development of the atomic-weapons establishment could close perceived holes in Pakistan's nuclear capabilities, according to DAWN.

In recent years, Islamabad has focused on ramping up its plutonium production [Pakistan is roughly 50 percent finished in building a fourth nuclear reactor site at a facility that generates plutonium for nuclear bombs] capabilities and developing lower-yield tactical weapons in order to deter India's superior conventional forces.

[ NTI reports  Pakistan says its 37 mile [60 km] range Hatf 9 [or Hatf-IX or NASR] solid fuel [battlefield range ballistic missile (BRBM)] is capable of carrying out low-yield nuclear strikes and evading enemy defense systems. The weapon is aimed at deterring New Delhi from carrying out a fast-moving, limited conventional invasion of Pakistani territory -- the so-called “Cold Start” doctrine.

Meanwhile, India is increasingly focused on its supersonic 180-mile-range BrahMos cruise missile as the key new weapon that will give it a strategic advantage over its neighbor and longtime rival. The nuclear-capable missile’s superfast speeds mean it potentially could be used to carry out prompt strikes on extremist camps inside Pakistan.]

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a senior fellow with Harvard University's Belfer Center, told Global Security Newswire that he interprets Pakistan's pursuit of full-spectrum deterrence abilities to mean it will continue to focus on producing "smaller nuclear weapons with larger yields."

"In order to do this, they are dramatically expanding their production of plutonium," the former Energy Department director of  intelligence and counterintelligence said in an e-mail."

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