Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons to prevent India from launching a war while remaining under the nuclear threshold, foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has said.
The tactical nuclear weapons were made to “bridge the gap for war that India had created through its Cold Start doctrine”, Chaudhry told a news briefing in Washington on Tuesday.
Pakistan’s “low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons” will make it difficult for India to launch a war “while remaining under the nuclear threshold”, he said.
“Our nuclear programme is one dimensional: Stopping Indian aggression before it happens. It is not for starting a war. It is for deterrence,” he said.
This was the first explanation from a senior Pakistani official on how Islamabad plans to deal with the Cold Start doctrine, the Dawn newspaper reported. It was also “a rare explanation of Pakistan’s decision to make tactical nuclear weapons to deal with the possible threat of an Indian aggression”, the report said.
The Cold Start doctrine, which has not been officially acknowledged by India, reportedly envisages swift strikes deep within enemy territory by small and highly mobile army units backed by air power.
Chaudhry contended India had moved its cantonments close to the Pakistani border under the doctrine. This allowed India “to move its conventional weapons close to Pakistan along with other vehicles and fuel supplies”, he said.
By reducing the time required to “launch an aggression against Pakistan”, India had “created a space for war,” he said.
“Our argument is, when you are a nuclear power, you do not create spaces for war. War is no more an option,” Chaudhry said. “We have plugged the gap India had created. We have the right to do so.”
Chaudhry, part of the delegation accompanying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on an official visit to the US, said Pakistan will not sign any nuclear deal during the trip.
Sharif is set to arrive in Washington on Wednesday for a meeting with President Barack Obama scheduled for October 22.
Media reports have suggested that the US administration is mulling a nuclear deal that will enable Pakistan to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group if it agrees to caps on its nuclear weapons programme.
The reports further suggested that the US wants Pakistan to curb its tactical weapons because of fears that they could trigger a nuclear war in South Asia.
Asked under what conditions Pakistan could sign a nuclear deal with the US, Chaudhry said: “We are not signing a nuclear deal. No deal, not of any kind.”
The White House too has played down reports of a nuclear deal , saying no such “deal would come to fruition” during Sharif’s visit.
In an apparent reference to concerns among Western nations about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Chaudhry said: “We have had no nuclear accidents in Pakistan. We have a very strict export control system. We are proud of our record.
“Our nuclear programme is only to deter aggression (by) India. That’s the long and the short of it.”