Senior Official: Pakistani Leaders to Retain Nuclear-Arms Authority in Crises

Pakistani Rangers, in black, and Indian Border Security Force personnel, in khaki, raise fists as part of a flag ceremony at the India-Pakistan Wagah Border Post last July. A senior Pakistani official this week said central authorities are to largely retain authority over the nation's nuclear arms in any future war against neighboring rival India.
National Journal
Elaine M. Grossman
Feb. 27, 2014, 9:59 a.m.

Pakistan’s top lead­ers would not del­eg­ate ad­vance au­thor­ity over nuc­le­ar arms to unit com­mand­ers, even in the event of crisis with In­dia, a seni­or of­fi­cial says.

The rev­el­a­tion might slightly ease glob­al con­cerns about Pakistani nuc­le­ar arms be­ing det­on­ated pre­cip­it­ously in any fu­ture com­bat, though plenty of po­ten­tial haz­ards ap­pear to re­main.

“The smal­lest to the largest — all weapons are un­der the cent­ral con­trol of the Na­tion­al Com­mand Au­thor­ity, which is headed by the prime min­is­ter,” ac­cord­ing to the high-level Pakistani gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, speak­ing to re­port­ers Tues­day on con­di­tion of not be­ing named.

The long­time worry has been that Pakistani mil­it­ary units might be temp­ted to use bat­tle­field nuc­le­ar weapons as a last re­sort. One pos­sible scen­ario for such a move might be if Pakistani troops are in danger of be­ing over­whelmed in any fu­ture war against In­dia, which has a lar­ger and more cap­able con­ven­tion­al army.

The two na­tions cur­rently field roughly the same size nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al, num­ber­ing around 100 weapons apiece. Pakistani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, who was elec­ted to of­fice last spring, has moved to strengthen ties with his In­di­an coun­ter­part, Man­mo­han Singh, fol­low­ing a string of bor­der killings.

The seni­or Pakistani of­fi­cial ac­know­ledged, though, that ul­ti­mately any bat­tle­field use of tac­tic­al nuc­le­ar arms is left in mil­it­ary hands, as would be the case in vir­tu­ally any na­tion’s com­bat op­er­a­tions.

“You must ap­pre­ci­ate, in al­most all the coun­tries of the world, fi­nal op­er­a­tion­al con­trol lies with the mil­it­ary, even here,” the Is­lamabad of­fi­cial said at the Wash­ing­ton gath­er­ing. “But the ba­sic con­trol re­mains with the ci­vil­ian lead­er­ship, in con­sulta­tion with the mil­it­ary com­mand­ers. And the us­age will be con­trolled at the highest level, even if the smal­lest device in the smal­lest num­bers has to be used.”

The of­fi­cial noted that Pakistan’s nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al “is primar­ily a de­terrence mech­an­ism,” and “the us­age is a sec­ond­ary thing.” The South Asi­an na­tion “is not very anxious” to use nuc­le­ar arms, but Pakistan sees the ar­sen­al as ne­ces­sary in “an im­bal­anced mil­it­ary re­la­tion­ship with our neigh­bors.”

The seni­or fig­ure was asked if Pakistani mil­it­ary unit com­mand­ers — once giv­en emer­gency au­thor­ity to det­on­ate nuc­le­ar weapons — might set off the deadly devices rather than al­low po­ten­tially dom­in­ant In­di­an troops to over­run and steal them.

“I think prin­cip­ally I should take of­fense to this re­mark,” the of­fi­cial said. “We are not so naïve to handle nuc­le­ar weapons, to hand them over to a con­ven­tion­al army com­ing to our bor­ders. “¦ There are no chances of that.”

Rather, “if we can de­vel­op it, I’m sure we can look after it, also,” the seni­or of­fi­cial said, re­fer­ring to the high caliber of both the nuc­le­ar tech­no­lo­gies and the Pakistani troops whose ded­ic­ated mis­sion is to se­cure the atom­ic arms.

Pakistani mil­it­ary com­mand­ers, the of­fi­cial said, “would rather com­mit sui­cide than let this fall in some­body else’s hands who’s not sup­posed to have it.”

Asked sub­sequently about U.S. con­cerns re­gard­ing Pakistani se­cur­ity over its stock­pile — par­tic­u­larly after mil­it­ants have at­tacked armed forces in­stall­a­tions in re­cent years — the seni­or of­fi­cial said nuc­le­ar safety is of para­mount pri­or­ity to the na­tion’s lead­ers.

“If something like that hap­pens, who is the biggest af­fect­ee of that? It’s us. If there is ra­di­ation, it’s us. It’s our people,” the of­fi­cial said. “So why would we risk our own people? We are very, very care­ful about it.”

What We're Following See More »
AFFECTS NOVEMBER ELECTIONS
North Carolina Voter ID Law Struck Down
42 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday overturned North Carolina's 2013 voter ID law, saying it was passed with “discriminatory intent." The decision sends the case back to the district judge who initially dismissed challenges to the law. "The ruling prohibits North Carolina from requiring photo identification from voters in future elections, including the November 2016 general election, restores a week of early voting and preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ensures that same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting will remain in effect."

Source:
NORTH DAKOTA TO ILLINOIS
Massive Oil Pipeline Approved for the Midwest
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

An oil pipeline almost as long as the much-debated Keystone XL has won final approval to transport crude from North Dakota to Illinois, traveling through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave the final blessing to the Dakota Access pipeline on Tuesday. Developers now have the last set of permits they need to build through the small portion of federal land the line crosses, which includes major waterways like the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers. The so-called Bakken pipeline goes through mostly state and private land."

Source:
DISAPPOINTING RESULTS
GDP Grew at 1.2% in Q2
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.2% in the second quarter, "well below the 2.6% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast." Consumer spending was "robust," but it was offset by "cautious" business investment. "Since the recession ended seven years ago, the expansion has failed to achieve the breakout growth seen in past recoveries. "The average annual growth rate during the current business cycle, 2.1%, remains the weakest of any expansion since at least 1949."

Source:
‘DEMOCRATIC GENERATION’
Schumer: We’ll Take the Senate
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in waiting, not only thinks his party will take the Senate this fall, but that it's on the cusp of an era of "electoral dominance." He told Politico: “We’re going to have a Democratic generation. [President Barack Obama] helped create it. But it’s just where America’s moving demographically, ideologically and in every way. We’ll have a mandate to get something done.”

Source:
TAPING IN NEW YORK TODAY
Biden to Guest on ‘Law and Order: SVU’
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

"Vice President Joe Biden will appear in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that will mention the backlog of untested rape kits in many cities, as well as efforts to end violence against women—an issue close to Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994." He'll be in New York to tape the episode today.

Source:
×