Real risk to Pakistani nukes comes from its army, not terrorists, says former NSA
The “real threat” to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is from rogue elements inside its military rather than from the terrorist outfits, India’s former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said.
Noting that terrorists have easier and cheaper ways of wreaking havoc, Menon said the nuclear weapons are complex devises that are difficult to manage, use and deliver and require very high level of skills.
“To my mind, the real threat (to Pak nukes) is from insiders, from a Pakistani pilot or a brigadier who decides to wage nuclear jihad, with or without orders,” Menon writes in his book titled “Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy.”
“The risk increases as Pakistan builds tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use, control of which will necessarily be delegated down the command chain,” he said.
Menon says Pakistan is the only nuclear weapon programme in the world that is exclusively under military control.
“There are good reasons why no other country chose to go down this path,” he said.
Menon argues that India has nuclear weapons for the contribution they make to its national security in an uncertain and anarchic world by preventing others from attempting nuclear blackmail and coercion against India.
“Unlike in certain NWS, India’s nuclear weapons are not meant to redress a military balance, or to compensate for some perceived inferiority in conventional military terms, or to serve some tactical or operational military need on the battlefield,” he notes.
While India has a declared policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons, Menon in his book warns that if Pakistan were to use tactical nuclear weapons against India “even against Indian forces in Pakistan,” it would effectively be opening the door to a massive Indian-first strike, having crossed India’s declared red line.
“Pakistani tactical nuclear weapons use would effectively free India to undertake a comprehensive first strike against Pakistan,” he said.
“There are several responses short of war available to a state like India,” he writes.