World ignoring India’s nuclear expansion at its own peril, says Belfer Center scholar

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (APP): India’s nuclear expansion needed
greater international attention as it was an emerging threat for
world peace and security and not just for Pakistan, said a scholar
specializing in strategic stability dynamics in South Asia on Monday.
Dr Mansoor Ahmed, a post-doctoral fellow at Belfer Center for
Science and International Affairs at Harvard-Kennedy School was
speaking at a round-table conference at Strategic Vision Institute
(SVI), a local think tank, on `FMCT and Global Fissile Material
Inventories’.
He said India was aiming to become a major global player for
which it was exponentially expanding its nuclear capabilities.
“The central pillar of their strategy is their ability to produce
larger quantities of unguarded (not covered under IAEA safeguards) fissile
material stockpiles. This is an emerging threat for countries like
China and possibly the United States in next 10-15 years.”
The Indian fissile material production capacity includes
military reactors, unsafeguarded power reactors, the enrichment
program and the breeder program.
Full potential of Indian existing and planned capacity has to
be taken into account, the scholar contended and underscored that
there is no independent verification about how much of the fissile
material from unsafeguarded program has been converted into weapon
grade.
He regretted that global focus remained on Pakistan due to the
prevailing narrative that it had the world’s fastest growing
program.
He said this was untrue. The Western scholars, he observed,
“cherry-pick” information and apply different standards to Pakistan
and India, while making such assessments.
In Pakistan’s case, Western analysts, he said, project that
Pakistan’s entire fissile material had been converted into weapons,
whereas the yardstick in case of India was different.
“India outstrips Pakistan in fissile material production
exponentially,” he maintained adding no other non-NPT state was
increasing its fissile material stocks as was India.
“India is actively building capabilities that are far in
excess of its immediate requirement for minimum deterrence and it is
no coincidence that Indians are changing their stated nuclear
posture from counter-value to counter-force capability.”
Pakistan’s stockpiles, Dr Mansoor Ahmed said, were barely
enough for meeting the requirements of the existing delivery
systems. Pakistan, he stressed, neither had unsafeguarded heavy
water reactors, from which diversions could be made for military
purposes, nor were there unsafeguarded civilian Plutonium stockpiles.
Moreover, he said, Pakistan lacks capability for effective
counter-force targeting.
Expansion of Indian nuclear capabilities, Dr Ahmed warned,
could lead to “rapid escalation” and “deterrence failure” in South
Asia.
Stockpiles are at the center of the row holding the start of
negotiations on the proposed Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)
at the Conference on Disarmament. Pakistani position has been that
negotiating a treaty that only bans future production of fissile
material without taking into account the existing stockpiles would
freeze the existing asymmetries. This, it is feared, would put
Pakistan at a permanent disadvantage vis-…-vis India and undermine
its security interests.
SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema questioned Western
pressure on Pakistan to allow the start of FMCT negotiations. He
said position taken by Pakistan is logical given the way India is
expanding its stockpiles. He also pointed out that internationally
there are no standard inventories of stockpiles and the various
sources available give divergent information.