Pak's nuclear ambition limited to matching India's capabilities: Book

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For Pakistan's nuclear managers today, matching Indian nuclear capabilities is all that matters, says a new book which critically examines how and why the neighbouring country acquired its nuke weapons and many related issues.

In "Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb: A Story Of Defiance, Deterrence And Deviance", academic Hassan Abbas profiles the politicians and scientists involved in the development of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, and the role of China and Saudi Arabia in supporting its nuclear infrastructure.

The book also examines Pakistani nuclear physicist A Q Khan's involvement in nuclear proliferation in Iran, Libya and North Korea, and argues that the origins and evolution of the Khan network were tied to the domestic and international political motivations underlying Pakistan's nuclear weapons project, and that project's organisation, oversight and management.

It further takes a look at the prospects for nuclear safety in Pakistan in the light of the country's nuclear control infrastructure and the threat posed by the Taliban and other extremist groups to the nuclear assets.

"Whether it is about prospects of admission into Nuclear Supplier Group or gaining access to western technology useful for civilian nuclear purposes, Pakistan feels that it is treated unfairly vis-a-vis India. On the side, Pakistan is also aggressively investing in developing nuclear reactors capable of yielding weapon-grade plutonium with China's help," Abbas writes.

The author also says that the simmering Kashmir dispute continues to drive Pakistan's security perspective and it considers all means including use of any proxy militant groups as legitimate. He adds that Pakistan is unlikely to budge from this posture in foreseeable future.

"India is obviously not impressed with this state of affairs and its calculus also involves following China's nuclear capabilities and policies," he writes in the book published by Penguin Random House India.

According to Abbas, India's nuclear posture naturally corresponds to its status as a rising global power; it pledges "no first use" but also promises a massive retaliation against an adversary that strikes first with nuclear weapons.

This only further complicates the South Asian security scene that has already yielded to a deadly nuclear arms race, he says.

Abbas also provides a brief sketch of North Korea's nuclear development, followed by an analysis of the historical nature of Pakistan-North Korea relations.

"Clearly, North Korea's determination in acquiring nuclear capabilities over 40 years suggests that the issue remained one of the highest priorities for the country's national security and strategic considerations," he writes.

"As for Pakistan, nuclear proliferation, or the sale of its nuclear expertise to North Korea did not constitute a threat to its sovereignty. But what occurred beneath the surface is critical. Information about the exact nature of the transactions between Pakistan and North Korea reveals a complex web that involves the AQ Khan network, the Pakistani military, and the government of Pakistan," he says.

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