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Complicated world of nuclear nations: Pakistan and India especially concerning

Nuclear club’s rival weapons and agendas pushing us into uncertain new world, SMH, David Wroe , 28 Oct 17   For all the heartburn about North Korea, many experts feel the greatest danger of nuclear war remains one between India and Pakistan.

Why? Their nuclear doctrines are downright hot-headed. Pakistan, intimidated by the much larger conventional forces of its neighbour and arch-rival, states that if Indian forces charge over the border, it would launch a nuclear strike on its own soil against the invaders.

Pakistan argues this would be self-defence, not a nuclear attack on India.

India of course sees it differently and vows it would retaliate with nuclear counter-strikes.

India moreover says it might retaliate with nuclear weapons if Pakistani terrorists – regarded as proxies for their country’s intelligence agencies – ever carried out another Mumbai-style massacre. That is more than a remote possibility.

“It’s scary. The last time there was a conflict, Pakistan devolved launch authority down to the field commander,” said John Carlson, an Australian former nuclear negotiator now serving as a counsellor to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group that works to reduce the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction.

India moreover says it might retaliate with nuclear weapons if Pakistani terrorists – regarded as proxies for their country’s intelligence agencies – ever carried out another Mumbai-style massacre. That is more than a remote possibility.

“It’s scary. The last time there was a conflict, Pakistan devolved launch authority down to the field commander,” said John Carlson, an Australian former nuclear negotiator now serving as a counsellor to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group that works to reduce the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction. “They say they’ve got better command and control now but I don’t know how much confidence you can have in that.”

If that’s not enough, India’s real nuclear rivalry is not even with Pakistan. It is with fellow rising power China. China in turn has nuclear deterrence strategies against the two established Cold War giants, the US and Russia.

The world, in short, is getting more complicated.

Nuclear weapons have been part of the strategic landscape for more than 70 years. But for most of this time, the standoff was between two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union. Then for a while there was one, the US.

That’s now changing to a world strategic boffins call “multipolar”, where power is fragmenting and redistributing. And some experts are wondering why this isn’t prompting a more urgent conversation about what it means for nuclear weapons and their proliferation.

David Cooper, a long-serving former Pentagon official who is now a professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, calls it “trans-regional nuclear arms racing”, something he says “we have never seen before in the relatively brief history of the nuclear age”.

“And we don’t know what deterrence or arms control would look like in this new context of potential nuclear multipolarity, which could involve simultaneous, and interconnecting, nuclear arms races within and across regions, because we have never been in a multipolar world since the dawn of the nuclear age,” Cooper said.

“This would be completely new if it comes to pass. That’s something we need to start thinking about.”

The world’s estimated 15,000 fusion and fission bombs remain the only weapons stockpile that poses a truly existential threat to humanity. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever tested, the Soviet “Tsar” bomb detonated in 1961, had nearly 5 million times the yield of the most powerful conventional bomb, the US-made MOAB.

The current crisis of Kim Jong-un’s nuclear program, and the postponed problem of Iran, are symptoms more than drivers of the fears of a more nuclear-armed world……http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/nuclear-clubs-rival-weapons-and-agendas-pushing-us-into-uncertain-new-world-20171027-gz9jkq.html

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October 28, 2017 - Posted by | general

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