COVER STORY

From non-proliferation to nuclear stability:
The case of South Asia

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Contributing Editor Dr SHIREEN M MAZARI writes this month on nuclear issues in South Asia.

One can identify two distinct strands of nonproliferation that have dominated the international milieu since the US used nuclear weapons against Japan towards the final stages of the Second World War. One: There is the US-centric strand premised on the discriminatory principle of distinguishing between horizontal and vertical proliferation as exemplified by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Two: There is a universal, non-US-centric strand that is premised on a more rational approach towards the issue of nuclear proliferation. This seeks to stabilise and slow down proliferation at the global level while different regions evolve their own non-proliferation regimes. Reflecting this approach are the regional non-proliferation treaties such as the Tlatelolco and Rarotonga Treaties which establish nuclear weapon free zones in Latin America and the South Pacific regions respectively.

A brief look at the major instruments that define these approaches will help illustrate the validity or otherwise of either approach in terms of long term stability.

Major instrumentalities of the US-centric approach PTBT

The Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963) came about as a result of trilateral negotiations between Britain, the US and the then Soviet Union. It was decried even then as a discriminatory treaty by the growing anti-nuclear movement within the civil societies of the Western states and by countries like China. This was because the PTBT simply tried to make testing more difficult and expensive by banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water - while allowing for tests underground. That this was the intent was made clear by President Kennedy when he explained US support for such a Treaty:

'We have, and under this Treaty we will continue to have, the nuclear strength that we need. On the other hand, unrestricted testing - by which other powers could develop all kinds of weapons through atmospheric tests more cheaply and quickly than they could underground - might well lead to a weakening of our security.'

NPT

The Non-Proliferation Treaty exemplifies the discriminatory approach to nuclear arms control and disarmament propagated by the US. The Treaty has differing sets of rights and obligations for nuclear weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states. While the latter are forbidden to acquire nuclear weapons technology and weaponry, the former are simply required to pursue 'in good faith' negotiations towards reduction and eventual elimination of their nuclear weapons (Article VI) - a non-binding commitment. The Treaty also places compulsorily only those nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards that have an imported component - which basically means the reactors of developing states.

Again, the Treaty has a static definition of a nuclear weapon state - a state that tested a nuclear device 'prior to 1 January 1967' (Article IX). This clause makes the Treaty redundant for new overt and covert nuclear weapons states like Pakistan, India and Israel. However, the two articles that do impose a binding obligation on nuclear weapon states have never really been operationalised. These are Articles IV and V which stress the right of all parties to the Treaty to fully exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and the right of all parties to receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear explosions (pnes) at low costs from the nuclear weapon states. Finally, the redundancy of the Treaty was made apparent when a full party to the NPT found its nuclear facility attacked by a non-party (the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor by Israel) and the international community did nothing.

The London Suppliers' Club

In the wake of the Indian nuclear test of 1974, a nuclear-technology Suppliers' Conference was held in London where a 'trigger list' (also known as the Zangger List) was drawn up of sensitive technologies which the Club members agreed not to import - especially to potential threshold nuclear powers. The list was later made more extensive and this suppliers' agreement not only continues to exist, it set the tone for the MTCR that followed.

MTCR

The MTCR is a Suppliers' Club arrangement where exporters of military and dual-use missile technology agree to refrain from this export. So while it does not impinge upon a country's own missile development it reassures the rest of the world that such a country will not aid in the proliferation of missile development. Already, by 1991, Argentina, China, Israel and South Africa had all declared that they would unilaterally respect the MTCR guidelines. Obviously, the MTCR guidelines were not seen as having an adverse effect on the defence capabilities of any of these states. So what exactly is the MTCR?

It is an effort to coordinate national export restrictions prohibiting transfer of missiles and technology for missiles capable of delivering a 500 kg payload over a range of 300 kms. The regime itself was the result of a process begun quietly in the late 60s, and which continues today. The MTCR itself was originally negotiated by Britain, Canada, France, Germany (what was then West Germany), Italy, Japan and the US in the mid-eighties. It was first made public in 1987.

It is very important to be aware of the fact that it is not a treaty. In fact, it is little more than a list of proscribed technologies and an agreement to cooperate on enforcing this list. The MTCR comprises primarily tacit assumptions implicit within its guidelines along with supporting diplomacy. States who commit to the MTCR agree to forgo trade advantages in order to enforce the proscribed technologies list. There are seven main guidelines and a comprehensive equipment and technology annex, the latter having been enlarged in the 90s. Critically, the guidelines are not designed to impede national space programmes or international cooperation in such programmes as long as such programmes do not contribute to nuclear weapons delivery systems. Also, of course, the MTCR allows trade in smaller weapons.

Major instrumentalities of the universal, non-discriminatory approach

Parallel to the development of the discriminatory approach to non-proliferation favoured by the US, there has evolved a more universal approach to the whole issue of nuclear arms control and disarmament that is premised on treaties created through consensus building. Central to this approach is a regional focus where states within a particular region move towards establishing a regional nuclear weapon free zone for themselves. But such moves are only successful when they are initiated through a regional consensus. Accompanying this regional approach have been moves within the IAEA to move beyond merely the safeguards element of nuclear power to a more positive approach to nuclear energy development that prevents weapons proliferation but allows states to enjoy the benefits of this source of energy.

Tlatelolco Treaty

The Tlatelolco Treaty created a nuclear-weapon-free-zone for the Latin American region. It has its own monitoring agency - OPANAL - and it has two Protocols attached to it which are an integral part of the Treaty. These Protocols require nuclear weapon states not to introduce nuclear weapons in the region and not to use nuclear weapons against parties to the Treaty. Since the treaty does not have a static definition of the nuclear weapon state, all states who are seen as nuclear capable - be they overt or covert - have been asked to sign the relevant Protocols. The Treaty also distinguishes between nuclear weapons explosions and peaceful nuclear explosions.

This Treaty has been the model for the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the South Pacific - the Rarotonga Treaty which has become operational after Australian ratification. Similar initiatives are in the pipeline in Africa.

CAS

In June 1980, the IAEA created the Committee on Assurances of Supply (CAS) dealing with the supply of nuclear fuel and associated services. The idea was to allow all IAEA members assured sources of nuclear fuel on an economical and reliable basis. However, this initiative has been neglected by IAEA members.

CTBT

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a follow-up of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) of 1963. Pakistan, like India, has signed and ratified the PTBT which forbids nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water. (In fact India was a signatory to the PTBT when it tested its nuclear device in 1974).

The CTBT plugs the gap in the PTBT by banning nuclear explosive testing in all environments (Article I) - including underground (which was the loophole in the PTBT). The CTBT was adopted by the UN GA on September 10, 1996 with 158 states, including Pakistan, voting in favour. Only three states - India, Bhutan and Libya - voted against.

The CTBT has been signed (up to Oct 13 1999) by 155 states, and 51 have so far ratified it.

The CTBT does not distinguish or discriminate between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states.

It does not deal with nuclear weapons - only with explosive nuclear testing. It allows cold testing and nuclear simulation for all states able to do so.

The CTBT will enter into force only after ratification by 44 designated states - according to Article XIV those states that possess nuclear weapons and nuclear power reactors/research reactors. Pakistan and India are included in this list. Out of these 44 states (listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty), 41 have signed the CTBT - only Pakistan, India and North Korea have not; and of these 26 have ratified it, including Britain and France. The US Senate has voted against American ratification of the CTBT.

Of this group of 44 states, all the Muslim states, except for Pakistan, have signed and ratified the CTBT (including Bangladesh, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran & Turkey).

The CTBT provides for withdrawal on 6 months advance notice on basis of 'extraordinary event or events which a State Party regards as jeopardizing its supreme interests' (Article IX).

Implementation of the Treaty will be through a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), comprising of the Conference of the States Parties, the Executive Council and the Technical Secretariat. The Conference of the State Parties will consist of all Member States and will be the ultimate policy making body for the Treaty. The Executive Council will consist of 51 members - no permanent membership - elected by the Conference on the basis of 6 geographic regions according to several criteria (Article II). Verification Regime - Article IV.

This is designed to monitor phenomena globally so as to detect the occurrence of nuclear explosions anywhere. The verification is applicable only to explosions and has no bearing on a country's nuclear reactors or weapons' production facilities - or even fissile stockpiles.

Even on this point, to prevent abuse of this clause, 'frivolous' challenges will be penalized. And after all the clarification and affirmation clauses of Article IV, an on-site inspection of a suspected test site can only take place if 30 members of the Executive Council vote in the affirmative for such an inspection.

Where the FMCT will eventually place itself will depend upon the final form the Treaty takes.

The case of South Asia: A Pakistani viewpoint

Now, coming to South Asia, my contention is that in order to establish stability within the nuclear context a third, new approach is needed which is a fusion of the existing approaches. To begin with, it is not nuclear non-proliferation that is the need but a stabilisation of the nuclearisation - in other words a nuclear stability regime. Thus, what is needed is a move on two parallel fronts: One, evolving a rational draft nuclear doctrine and, two, moving towards the stabilisation of the nuclearisation of South Asia - that is, a viable nuclear arms control regime.

Because nuclear weapons are absolute weapons, there is no need to balance bomb for bomb and missile for missile. In other words, Pakistan does not have to get embroiled in an expensive arms race with India. In fact the priority for Pakistan must be not only to set about mutually stabilising the nuclear deterrence with India, it must evolve a clear-cut nuclear doctrine and strategy for its limited nuclear arsenal. This becomes very critical given the fact that the limited resources of Pakistan will not allow it to enter into an uncontrolled nuclear arms race. This does not mean that Pakistan will be at a permanent disadvantage and will not be able to develop and modernise its nuclear arsenal. All it means is that Pakistan, even as it updates its nuclear arsenal, will have to make choices and keep its arsenal limited to a minimum sufficient level to meet the Indian threat. And in that sense, India too will at some stage realise that it does not have unlimited resources for adventurism in the nuclear military field.

So the question arises as to what are the options for Pakistan and how can it evolve a rational nuclear doctrine for the present, which may be adapted and adjusted as its nuclear technology and resources develop further. Also, Pakistani planners must keep in mind the changing nature of modern warfare - where war for territory has been replaced by war for the hearts and minds of people. In other words, in many ways there are two types of warfare now: Direct, military confrontation between states; and indirect warfare, where war is waged continuously through political, economic and psychological means against the enemy. Nuclear doctrines focus on the first type of warfare. But there must be equally precise, long-term planning for the other type of warfare that is constantly in motion against unfriendly states.

Draft for a rational nuclear doctrine

Any consideration of military doctrines and strategy must take into consideration a country's geopolitical environment, its interests and its capabilities. Pakistan's geopolitical milieu confronts it with a hostile and large India in the East, an unstable Afghanistan in the north-west, a strong ally China in the north and a critical ally in the West, Iran. To the south is the Arabian Sea and the Gulf states with whom Pakistan needs to develop and sustain a strategic relationship. The prevalence of the Kashmir dispute with India aggravates the threat from India which would have existed even otherwise, given the nature of Indian ambitions. While Pakistan must take into consideration the Afghan factor, it is primarily in relation to India that there is a need to evolve a viable nuclear military doctrine.

The interests of a country refers to its territorial integrity and sovereignty and absence of a fear of threat, and also includes maintaining access to resources needed for the national economy such as energy and food. As for capabilities, they include not just the measurable assets of the country but also immeasurable assets like governmental priorities.

So, Pakistan must evolve a rational nuclear doctrine keeping in view all the above factors. It must also begin on the premise that it lacks spatial depth and therefore, cannot afford the luxury of distinguishing between tactical and strategic, within a nuclear context. In other words it must focus on strategic nuclear weapons rather than on battlefield nuclear weapons - especially given its limited resources.

Also, the underlying logic of maintaining a nuclear capability for Pakistan is to have a viable deterrence against India. Deterrence accepts that while you may not be able to match the opponent weapon for weapon, you will make the price of his action unacceptable to him. Of course, underlying all deterrence theories is the assumption that in case deterrence does fail, you will have the capability to defend yourself effectively. But overall, it is the unacceptable consequences that would follow the failure of deterrence that have maintained the viability of this notion across the globe.

Nuclear deterrence and war envisage three main types of targets: Nuclear-related targets such as missile silos, nuclear airfields, etc.; other military targets (OMT) including non-nuclear military forces, bases, installations, etc.; and, political and military command centres, economic targets and populations.

Now, since Pakistan lacks spatial depth, it cannot afford to get bogged down in a conventional war for any length of time. So Pakistan has to go for a one-rung escalation ladder strategy in terms of nuclear weapons. That is why a no-first-use notion is not viable for Pakistan within the context of the Indian threat. Within these parameters, one must also examine the implications of focusing on tactical weapons like the short-range surface-to-surface missile Hatf-I. In other words, how viable is it to spend limited resources in trying to make tactical weapons nuclear capable - instead of initially opting for counter value strategies that allow for a first generation of weapon systems that may have large CEPs but which have a greater range than the Hatf-I. Given Pakistan's limited resources, it must consider its counter-value targets - that is, targeting Indian economic, leadership and population centres rather than hardened military targets - keeping in mind the limitations of its first generation of nuclear weapons - especially delivery systems. At the same time, it would be politically rational to avoid targeting certain industrial and population centres - such as Amritsar and Sikh population in the Punjab and South and West Bengal - even when Pakistan acquired the capability to do so. For one, Pakistan could then inform Bangladesh that it did not want to put its population at risk by nuclear attacks close to the Bangladesh borders - and so on.

Also, India has a number of potentially attractive targets within the shorter and intermediate range of Pakistani missiles and bombers. Included in this would be New Delhi, Bombay and all the nuclear installations that come within this range. At the end of the day, Pakistan does not need to go beyond its intermediate range capabilities. India's nuclear installations are close to population centres so damage can be compounded by attacking these facilities.

Again, because of the lack of spatial depth, can Pakistan indulge in the luxury of distinguishing between tactical and strategic and of getting bogged down in a battlefield nuclear confrontation? One hopes that the Hatf-I test was intended more as a precursor to testing medium range missiles along with solid fuel capability and payload factors. In other words, given the primacy of strategic weapons for Pakistan, it could be a costly diversion of precious resources to equip short-range missiles with nuclear warheads.

Coming to the Ghauri I and Ghauri II - the former with a 1500 kilometre range with a 700 kg payload, and the latter with a 2000 - 2300 km range with a 1,000 kg payload - both these intermediate range missiles offer an attractive base for Pakistan's first generation nuclear weapons. Instead of going on to develop yet more variety, these missiles need to be further developed so that eventually they become solid fuelled rather than the more unstable liquid fuelled models that prevail presently. Also, in order to gain maximum advantage, these missiles need to be put on mobile launchers - as is the Indian Prithvi - at least till such time as Pakistan develops a sound second strike capability and the technology for proper hardened silos. The range of these missiles is more than sufficient to meet Pakistan's counter-value nuclear doctrine. In addition, Pakistan has also developed the Shaheen I which is solid fuelled and has a range of around 600 kilometres. One hopes that these missiles will be the focus of Pakistan's missile development for the future, and that the Hatf-I test was a beginning in this context with an expansion of range following.

Finally, while all these issues relating to nuclear warheads and delivery systems are being rationalised at multiple levels of policy, it is equally important to have some projected estimations of our future requirements in terms of fissile stockpiles since the impending Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) will impact directly on this capability. We must not allow our negotiators in Geneva to function in isolation without knowing the benchmarks in terms of our technical and military requirements. It is not the CTBT that will affect our future nuclear capability and military needs but the FMCT, so it is time that the national focus on the nuclear issue was given a more rational direction.

A beginning has been made in this direction with the creation of the Nuclear Command Authority. There are some basic Command and Control issues that need to be addressed. For instance, would there be delegated command or not? What level of readiness would the deployed weapons be maintained at, etc. But the problems are not so great since Pakistan has short lines of communication and the military has been involved in the country's nuclear development right from the start. It may also be worth looking into the creation of a special strategic nuclear force with a separate command structure suited specifically to the needs of nuclear weapons.

In this regard, it is critical to have a coordinated policy which links up the political and diplomatic aspects of weapons development and testing along with the technical aspects.

In other words, given the prevailing global norms relating to nuclear weapons and non-proliferation, even as Pakistan tests its weapons' systems to make them reliable nuclear-capable delivery systems it also needs to assure the comity of nations that it is acting in a responsible and defensive manner. In this regard the accompanying diplomatic moves become very important signals of intent. That is why missile development in Pakistan must be accompanied by a declaration of commitment to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This should have been done when we tested the Ghauri in 1998, or later when we tested the Shaheen I. Now, with the testing of Hatf-I, we could definitely do with some diplomatic boost which can come from committing to adhere to the MTCR.

After all, this latest test of the Hatf-I only makes sense within the context of adjusting the missile for a nuclear payload in as accurate a mode as possible - that is trying to reduce the Circular Error Probability (CEP) in order to gain greater precision of targeting. Especially in a battlefront, tactical and therefore counterforce weapon - which is what Hatf-I seems to be evolving into - the CEP factor is of critical relevance. So, in order to reassure the world of our defensive intent, a commitment to the MTCR becomes relevant.

After all, one cannot exist in an isolationist mode and the whole objective should be to becoming a mainstream nuclear weapon power. In order to do this it is more important to accept all prevailing international norms that do not undermine our nu-clear capability, and less important to seek US acceptance of our nuclear status. While the CTBT has unfortunately become embroiled in a damaging political controversy within the country, options like the MTCR and Protocol II of the Tlatelolco Treaty are still viable options that need to be taken up. Given the Hatf-I test, the MTCR should be adhered to immediately, since it will assure the international community that we do not intend to export our missile technology to anyone. As explained above, the MTCR is not a treaty but a Suppliers' Agreement which imposes no restrictions on the national development of a country's missile programme - it only seeks restrictions on import of sensitive missile technology. All in all, Pakistan, by declaring its intentions of abiding by the MTCR guidelines, has nothing to lose and everything to gain. For a start it becomes part of the mainstream missile-powers an having already acquired and shown its missile capability. Also, it may then have access to a lot of the sensitive Category A items of the MTCR - that is, those items of greatest sensitivity. For there is a provision for transfer of such items under binding government to government undertakings and assurances by the recipient government to ensure that such an item is put only to its stated end-use (Guidelines 2 & 5). Once Pakistan acquires a status quo position on the missile front, the restrictions on access to several dual purpose technologies may ease up over time.

In addition, Pakistan should by now have declared its intentions of signing Additional Protocol II of the Tlatelolco Treaty (establishing a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in Latin America). This Protocol calls on all nuclear weapon states to 'undertake not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the Contracting Parties of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America.'

Unlike other similar treaties which only acknowledge five nuclear weapon powers in Britain, China, France, USA and USSR (now Russia), this Treaty does not identify any limited number of nuclear weapon powers by name. So when India tested its nuclear device in 1974 it was asked to accede to Protocol II by the member states since they felt that for all practical purposes India was a nuclear weapon state. Of course, at the time, India refused to acknowledge this characterisation overtly.

Now that Pakistan has gone overtly nuclear it should declare its intentions of signing Additional Protocol II of the Tlatelolco Treaty. By doing so, and by the signatories to the Treaty accepting its signature, Pakistan will have gained limited legitimation of its nuclear weapon status. This idea was as usual ignored by the 'experts' of the Foreign Office which is unfortunate since a number of opportunities are being lost even as we maintain a narrow focus on a US-centric approach to gaining legitimacy for our nuclear status.

On the CTBT: We should not appear as if we are prepared to bargain away our signature to international treaties. If we are going to sign the CTBT it must be because it is in our national interest - not because it would bring Clinton here. And this is the crucial issue because it is abundantly clear that India is definitely going to sign the CTBT when Clinton visits there - if not earlier. The official Indian pronouncements of great 'progress' in the US-India nuclear dialogue give this indication also, with the US giving India's nuclear status legitimization as a quid pro quo.

So what should Pakistan do on the issue of the CTBT, especially with major donor states like Japan keeping up the pressure for signature? Well, the first thing that is needed is to be clear on certain basics regarding the CTBT since so much misinformation has been floating around. That the CTBT was not a viable option for Pakistan to consider before it had tested is not debatable since a nuclear capability was a necessity for Pakistan given its security concerns and the regional realities. But even then, had India not provided the pretext for Pakistan to test, our ruling elite would never have taken this bold step. Now having tested, an inherent question needs to be asked and answered very honestly: Will we ever test again unless India provides us the pretext?

Costs of signing the CTBT

  • Once you become a party to a treaty, you cannot just leave it. The political pressure will be great if at some future date Pakistan wished to leave the treaty to test again.
  • Given the present political milieu and our economic constraints, any government which signs will have to contend with accusations of having buckled under US pressure. And many disparate political forces may coalesce together using the CTBT as a base for an agitational movement - hence the need to educate the public and create a national consensus whichever decision the state opts for.
  • Since no testing will be possible in the near future, one must be sure that our technical requirements for a credible deterrence have been met before signing the CTBT.
  • Our ability to go for fission-boosted weapons development and thermonuclear weapons will be severely limited. So we have to examine whether we would ever require these weapons or whether our limited resources would be better utilised in continuing development on our fission weapons further - which we can do with cold testing and simulation.

Benefits of signing the CTBT

  • Primarily economic, especially the restoration of aid and assistance from Pakistan's largest donor state - Japan. It is not US economic blackmail that will push us to the CTBT but Japanese pressure on this issue - given Japan's constitutional limitations - along with the poor state of our own economy.
  • Divert negative focus on our nuclear development and deployment.
  • Reaffirm that as a sovereign state we abide by our international commitments.
  • We can finally move on to focusing our attention where it is needed - on the FMCT which is simply unacceptable in the form it is being devised presently. Here Pakistan needs to evolve a consensus with other negotiating states in Geneva so that its future stockpiles of fissionable material are not affected adversely, especially in relation to India. It is the FMCT which could place Pakistan at a permanent nuclear disadvantage in the region.

If there is a fear regarding Indian intentions, we can always sign and withhold ratification - linking it to India's accession. We can also state clearly at the time of joining that we will test if India does so. The issue is not so much one of 'why the hurry' as one of 'why the delay' when we are not going to be in a position to test again on our own.

One important fear that is being voiced in certain quarters also needs to be addressed: That today we 'give in' on the CTBT and soon there will be this domino effect and we will be pressured into rolling back our nuclear programme and eventually into renouncing it all together.

First of all, we should not 'give in' on the CTBT but go into it only if we decide it is in our national interest. Secondly, it is time we stopped living in fear that once under pressure we will simply cave in on all issues. If we are so insecure in ourselves then we do not need a treaty to undermine our national security. After all, when our decision-makers did buckle under on the nuclear issue and 'rolled back' the programme, it was not under any treaty! So it is up to us to choose our battles and stand firm where it is needed. As a nuclear weapon power we need to develop a national confidence and sense of security - so that fear of the domino effect does not invade our national being every time we contemplate signing an international treaty.

Moving beyond treaties and suppliers' agreements, within the region Pakistan also needs to move on certain fronts.

A strategic stability regime would require Pakistan and India to establish a stable mutual nuclear deterrence. This, by definition, would require both countries to come to some agreement over missile deployments and numbers. Obviously, no one expects Pakistan to demand a missile-for-missile balance from India given India's claimed security concerns in relation to China and its power projection ambitions beyond South Asia. However, in the case of missiles that are Pakistan-specific, such as the Prithvi, India will have to have an equitable equation with Pakistan. Also, if India seeks to opt for an even-spread amongst its nuclear triad of forces, then Pakistan needs to have an edge on land-based deployments in terms of numbers.

Within an overall nuclear strategic balance, both Pakistan and India would need to move towards mutual conventional force reductions, especially of offensive systems on the ground, which in the Indian case are Pakistan-specific because of the terrain in relation to Indian neighbours like China and Bangladesh. The Paris Treaty for Conventional Force Reductions in Europe can be one appropriate model for Pakistan and India to examine.

While Pakistan does not have to feel threatened by every Indian missile development, it would need to develop and update its own weapon systems so that it can develop solid-fuelled missiles, and a credible second strike capability. Also, outmoded warheads would need to be replaced periodically. In order to maintain a stability in the nuclear weapons' development of both countries, a greater degree of transparency would be needed as well as the setting up of a permanent framework for strategic stability dialogue. For this a common strategic language is essential - which is why notions such as 'minimal credible deterrence' make little sense since the 'minimal' differs in each state's perception.

Since one is talking in terms of South Asia, at some level nuclear deployment by Pakistan and India would have to take into consideration the concerns and fears of the other South Asian states. As such, there must be a place for SAARC in the Pakistan-India strategic dialogue - which would require an expansion of the SAARC framework. Pakistan needs to suggest concrete proposals for this expansion - perhaps a SAARC Strategic Consultative Committee.

Pakistan could suggest a South Asian coordinated policy on arms control matters like the FMCT. India, if it chooses to strike it alone, would then come under pressure not only from the international community as a whole but also closer to home from SAARC. While SAARC members individually may be too weak to sway Indian strategic policy, as a collectivity, that would include Pakistan, they can have a political and moral force that could effectively move towards isolating India.

Pakistan has to make clear to India that a 'no-first-use' commitment is simply not viable for Pakistan. Instead, it should press India into accepting a Non-Aggression Pact which would commit both sides into restraining from aggressing against each other, no matter what the temptations. If India has no aggressive designs against Pakistan, it should have no problem with this Non-Aggression Pact. A Non-Aggression Pact could also include a SAARC dimension where it would be applicable to all SAARC members. Such a pact would truly stabilise nuclear deterrence in South Asia.

As for Kashmir, strategic nuclear dialogue does not affect the situation on the ground in Indian-held Kashmir. Nor does it detract from Pakistan's commitment to Kashmiri self-determination. India's nuclear capability has not strengthened India's position in IHK, and nuclear weapons cannot be brought into the Kashmir equation since they cannot be used there. The future of Kashmir will largely be determined by the situation on the ground and it is already clear that India has not only lost Kashmir politically, it is losing it militarily also. The only linkage between Kashmir and the nuclear factor is the increasing international focus on the conflict.

If anything, Pakistan must not allow the nuclear issue to detract global attention away from the right of the Kashmiris to the plebiscite committed to them by the UN Security Council. Recent events in Timor and the prospect of a UN-supervised referendum in Western Sahara in the near future make it ever more difficult for the UN to deny the Kashmiris their plebiscite. A stable nuclear regime in South Asia can only facilitate the working out of this plebiscite.

One model that can be floated on Kashmir is a Proximity Talks Model. Within this framework, the Owen Dixon proposal for regional plebiscites should be revived.

A strategic stability regime in South Asia would, by definition, be a substantive Confidence and Security Building Measure with the added advantage of having evolved indigenously in the region - so that the commitment to it would be more realistic. External interventions, and dialogues with external powers like the US will not give Pakistan nuclear stability or security - since the problem is within South Asia.

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