The News vs. The News on nukes

Dec 27th, 2011 | By | Category: Jang, The News

Nasr missile test image from The News (Jang) website

Is the government threatening the security of the country by cutting development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme? Or is the government improving the security of the country by investing in a modern nuclear weapons programme? According to The News (Jang Group) the answer is yes to both.

In Monday’s copy of The News, Ansar Abbasi warns that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is not a top priority of the present regime, and that because nuclear development has not been funded properly, it “has been stopped”. According to Abbasi, an “informed source, who has been one of the top nuclear managers of Pakistan’s nuclear programme” (his initials wouldn’t happen to be AQK, would they?) explained that because of the policies of the present government, our nuclear programme is experiencing “technical roll back”.

This is a particularly interesting situation to be in since in May of this year, The News reported that Pakistan under the present government is on path to become the 4th largest nuclear state and is quickly outpacing other nations in both number of warheads and technology.

Former UN weapons inspector David Albright, reported that Pakistan appears to be building a fourth plutonium reactor at the Khushab complex, and is expanding plutonium separation capabilities at another site.

Another report, from a US think tank, says Pakistan now has 70 to 90 nuclear warheads, more than its rival India. This puts Pakistan on track to command the world’s fourth-largest nuclear weapons arsenal by the end of the decade.

The evidence suggests that Pakistan is trying to develop a second-strike nuclear capability. Pakistan has tested cruise and other missiles that can carry strategic warheads from land or even from submarines.

That hardly sounds like the defence policy of a government that is turning a blind eye to security. In fact, The News reported advancements in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme in April also when the military successfully tested the Nasr, a ballistic missile of Hatf series, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead can hit targets up to 60 km.

Strategic planners term the test a ‘new and very significant development’ since the missile falls in the category of tactical nuclear weapons. “This is a low-yield battlefield deterrent, capable of deterring and inflicting punishment on mechanised forces like armed brigades and divisions,” said an expert in the field of missile technology. “This takes care of the Indian Army’s obsession with finding space for limited war under the nuclear umbrella.”

Addressing the gathering at the undisclosed location, DG SPD Kidwai said the test was a very important milestone in consolidating Pakistan’s strategic deterrence capability at all levels of the threat spectrum. He said in the hierarchy of military operations, the Nasr Weapon System now provided Pakistan with short-range missile capability in addition to the already available medium- and long-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in its inventory.

The president and prime minister have congratulated the scientists and engineers for their outstanding success and warmly appreciated the successful test.

In November of this year, Ansar Abbasi himself reported that ‘Pakistan’s nuclear programme has made some extraordinary progress by developing one of the world’s smartest nuclear tactical devices’.

The defence budget increased 15.3 per cent in 2009, in 2010 saw a 17 per cent additional increase, and in 2011 ballooned by an additional 12 per cent. Since taking power, the PPP-led coalition government has increased defence spending by at least 44 per cent over the budgets under the previous regime.

Is Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme threatened by budget cuts made by the present regime? Years’ worth of reporting by Jang/Geo provide ample evidence that successive governments including the present one have dedicated a vast amount of resources to the nuclear weapons programme that have yielded great advancement in both the number of warheads as well as advanced tactical technologies. In trying to accuse the PPP of weakening Pakistan’s nuclear programme, Ansar Abbasi only exposes his own lack of credibility.

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