17 Mai 2021
Pakistan aims to become the third nuclear power in the world.
Japanese defense and security researcher Kyle Mizukami, who usually writes for Foreign Policy, The Daily Best, and Diplomat, published an article in The National Interest, titled: Pakistan's nuclear weapons program is truly terrifying .
Mr. Mizukami is considered a benchmark in Asia. He founded a column in Japan devoted to defense and security. In his analysis, he draws on studies from well-known institutions such as the Carnegie Institute and the Stimson center.
The analyst believes that the complexity of the situation comes from the fact that Pakistan is geographically located between China, India, Afghanistan and Iran, a region with various security concerns.
According to the writer, Pakistan is one of nine countries known to possess nuclear weapons, constantly developing its arsenal and nuclear doctrine to deal with perceived threats. Pakistan has been a nuclear power for decades and is now trying to build its own nuclear trinity, making its nuclear arsenal flexible and capable of striking in devastating retaliation.
It highlights Pakistan's nuclear capabilities on land, air and sea, it draws attention to its versatile Hatf or Shaheen ballistic missiles, as well as to attack aircraft adapted for nuclear bombardments, not to mention the naval missile launchers of Babur-2 and Babur-3 cruise aboard surface ships and submarines which can deliver nuclear charges.
Pakistan's nuclear program dates back to the beginnings of competition with India in the 1950s of the past century. In 1965 Pakistani President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto said: "If India makes the bomb, we will eat the grass or the tree leaves, we will endure hunger, but we will have our bomb."
India tested the first bomb dubbed "The Smiling Buddha" in May 1974, setting the region on the path to proliferation, so Pakistan began the process of assembling the fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium. and plutonium.
Abdul Qadir Khan, a Pakistani scientist who worked in the West and returned to his country in 1975, was particularly helpful in this program. He he worked on the centrifuge plans to start the enrichment process and had a large contact list.
We do not know when Pakistan actually finished manufacturing the first nuclear bomb. Former President Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto's daughter, claimed her father told her the first bomb was ready in 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said the bomb was designed in 1978 and that it had been "cold tested", therefore without a real explosion, in 1983.
Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan's nuclear bombs were stored until 1998, when New Delhi tested six nuclear bombs in the space of three days. Almost three weeks later, Islamabad tested five bombs in one day and a sixth three days later.
The first bomb, estimated between 25 and 30 kt, could be an enriched uranium bomb. The second bomb is estimated at around 12 kilotons and the third is hectotonic, that is to say that it generated a power of less than one kiloton.
The sixth and final bomb, also of 12 kilotons, appears to have been tested in a different context. The Americans claimed to know it was a plutonium nuclear weapon.
As Pakistan was working on a uranium bomb and Abdul Qadeer Khan's network research was for uranium bombs, some outside observers concluded that the sixth test was in fact a North Korean test because in the past, Pyongyang did not want to openly take the plunge and proclaim itself a nuclear power.
Experts believe Pakistan's nuclear stocks are steadily increasing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five bombs, depending on the amount of enriched uranium needed for each bomb. It is estimated that Islamabad today has an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear warheads. In 2015, its production capacity is estimated at the rate of twenty bombs per year, which means that Pakistan could quickly become the third nuclear power in the world quantitatively.
Islamabad's nuclear weapons are under the control of the SPSM Strategic Military Planning Section and are mainly stored in Punjab province. Ten thousand Pakistani soldiers and intelligence agents keep these weapons. They are only provided with the activation code at the last minute, which prevents their use in the event of theft or mutiny.
There is no doubt that the Pakistani nuclear doctrine aims to deter India, its neighbor who is more powerful demographically and quantitatively. The nuclear crisis has been exacerbated by the historic enmity between the two countries and the multiple wars they have waged.
Unlike India and China, Pakistan does not have a "do not use first" principle of nuclear weapons and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, especially low power tactical nuclear weapons, to compensate for India's numerical superiority over conventional forces.
Islamabad currently has a nuclear "triad" made up of land, air and naval launch systems. The PAF would have modified in 1995 F-16A Falcon fighter planes and probably old Mirages, some of which were bought second-hand in Lebanon, to transform them into tactical nuclear bombers, employable against military targets of high strategic value such as an enemy aircraft carrier or armored division.
Pakistan's surface nuclear launch systems come in the form of missiles. Many models are inspired by Chinese and North Korean models. The Ghori range of mobile missiles includes the 180 km range solid propellant Hatf 3, the 466 km Hatf-4 rocket and the 1,250 km liquid fuel Hetf-5. CSIS believes that from 2014, the Hetv-6 missile with a range of 2,000 km would likely be in service. Pakistan is also developing a medium-range Shahin-3 missile capable of attacking targets up to 1,700 km, in order to strike
Pakistan's maritime component of nuclear deterrence consists of Babur type cruise missiles. The latest version, the Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles with a set of four small rear wings and two short main wings, all powered by a turbojet. The cruise missile has a maximum range of 700 km. Instead of GPS guidance, which can be turned off by the US government, the Babur-2 uses hard-to-jam comparison navigation technology. The new Babur-3 version was tested in January.
It is clear that Pakistan is developing a strong nuclear capability which can not only deter against invasion, but also wage real war. If the pace envisaged by the experts is maintained at this pace, the "Land of the Pure" in other words Pakistan, could become the third atomic power in the world in about 10 years.