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January 19, 2011

Negotiations Elude Disarmament Body Again

Wade Boese

Despite its claim to be the “single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community,” the 65-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) recently concluded its ninth consecutive year without any treaty negotiations. A majority of members failed to persuade China, Iran, and Pakistan to support the latest proposal to revive work at the moribund conference, but many pledged to continue their efforts next year.

Since completing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, conference members, particularly the United States and China, have clashed over negotiating priorities. Washington, Tokyo, and European capitals back the conclusion of a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) to end the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons purposes. The Geneva-based conference briefly held FMCT negotiations in 1998, but they did not produce any results, and the talks did not carry over to the following year.

Beijing and Moscow, in contrast, support negotiating a new agreement on restricting future weapons deployments in outer space, while non-nuclear-weapon states lobby for action on nuclear disarmament and assurances that they will not be attacked with nuclear arms.

After 1998, members have debated various compromises to satisfy all of the competing demands. None has won the consensus required to officially start work.

Members this year focused on a March 23 initiative as the best hope to end the negotiating dry spell. That proposal calls for FMCT negotiations and less formal talks on outer space, nuclear disarmament, and assurances for states without nuclear weapons. (See ACT, April 2007. )

Many countries quickly threw their support to the package or, like France and the United States, signaled they would not block it. Russia postponed until next year submission of a draft treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, reportedly to avoid bogging down deliberations over the March initiative.

Still, some states raised reservations or objections to the March proposal. A few of those countries, such as India, eventually and grudgingly accepted the package; but China, Iran, and Pakistan could not be swayed before the 2007 conference’s Sept. 14 close.

China, as well as Iran, contends the package does not ensure enough “substantive” work on issues other than an FMCT. Although Beijing in August 2003 dropped its insistence on outer space negotiations, it apparently wants reassurance that consenting to outer space discussions under the current proposal would not foreclose the possibility of future negotiations.

Some Western officials familiar with the conference speculate that Beijing is using the outer space issue to avoid FMCT negotiations. China is the only recognized nuclear-weapon state—the other four are France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—that has not publicly declared a moratorium on fissile material production for weapons. A senior U.S. official Sept. 20 told Arms Control Today that “if China decides negotiations on an FMCT are in its interests, Iran and Pakistan may reevaluate their position.”

Several CD diplomats interviewed in September by Arms Control Today, however, suggested that Pakistan presents the biggest hurdle to future adoption of the March package. Masood Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador to the conference, said in a Sept. 13 speech that the four core issues should receive “equal and balanced treatment.” That position is unacceptable to several countries, particularly France and the United States.

Islamabad also charges that the fissile material treaty part of the package is inadequate. The proposal states that FMCT negotiations should be conducted “without any preconditions.”

Pakistan maintains that a prescribed goal of any fissile material treaty negotiations should be an accord that is verifiable, an objective initially endorsed by the entire conference in 1995 but rejected by the Bush administration in 2004. (See ACT, September 2004. ) Administration officials say governments would waste money and time on creating verification measures that ultimately would burden lawful states and fail to deter cheaters.

The U.S. position has little support, yet most CD members, unlike Pakistan, have relented on proclaiming “verifiability” as a fixed goal of negotiations to accommodate the United States. The senior U.S. official said that Washington understands that not all governments accept the U.S. position at “face value” and therefore it is “prepared to make [its] case in the course of negotiations if others should propose a [verification] regime.” 

Pakistan also wants a fissile material treaty negotiation mandate to explicitly note that countries may explore measures on existing stockpiles of fissile material instead of focusing narrowly on halting fissile material production for weapons. Pakistan has long favored such an approach because it does not want a future FMCT to have the effect of freezing existing fissile material imbalances between it and India.

Indeed, Islamabad is pointing to a two-year-old Bush administration initiative to increase U.S. and global civilian nuclear trade with New Delhi as jeopardizing Pakistani security and justifying its hard-lines on a fissile material treaty. Pakistan’s National Command Authority, which includes President General Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan’s foreign affairs and defense ministers, warned in an Aug. 2 press release that the U.S.-Indian nuclear cooperation deal would “enable India to produce significant quantities of fissile material and nuclear weapons.”

Washington contends the deal is solely about aiding India’s nuclear energy growth, while critics charge it also will benefit India’s military complex by enabling New Delhi to devote more of its limited domestic resources to building nuclear bombs. (See ACT, September 2007. ) Islamabad argues that it should have been offered a similar arrangement.

Despite the stiff resistance of Pakistan to the March proposal, the CD diplomats interviewed by Arms Control Today see it as the likely starting point for discussions when the conference reconvenes Jan. 21, 2008. Sergio Duarte, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, exhorted the conference Aug. 21 that it “stands tantalizingly one short step away from resolving its long-standing impasse.”

Some ambassadors ending their tenures at the conference used farewell speeches to express their frustration with the conference’s failure to move sooner. Speaking Aug. 16, departing Canadian Ambassador Paul Meyer argued that “[i]f the CD was a business, it would have been declared insolvent long ago and shut down,” while Italian Ambassador Carlo Trezza lamented Sept. 13 that conference diplomacy amounted to “negotiation on negotiations.”

Swedish Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier complained sharply Aug. 30 of witnessing “an anemic stalemate with delegations resorting to recitals of ceremonious mantras, covering up the traces of their own passivity by useless finger-pointing and blame games, hiding behind the commas of the rules of procedure and shamelessly abusing the consensus rule to abort any attempt to seriously tackle difficult or sensitive issues.” Nonetheless, she concluded by saying that she left the conference “with hope and expectations.”

Then-Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen Rademaker implied last year to the conference that if it did not initiate FMCT negotiations soon, the United States would reconsider its CD participation. The senior U.S. official declined to say if the United States would scale back its presence next year, simply saying that “Americans believe in results, not endless process games.” The United States is scheduled to be one of six countries to occupy the body’s rotating presidency next year.

U.S. Renews Fighter Exports to Pakistan

Zachary Ginsburg

The United States recently delivered two used F-16B jets to Pakistan and announced plans to donate another two dozen. In a deal announced last September, the United States is also set to sell Pakistan 18 new F-16C/D fighters for delivery in 2010 and upgrades for its current fleet of 34 F-16 combat aircraft.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson said at a July 10 transfer ceremony at Pakistan’s Sargodha Air Force Base that the planes are “symbolic of our commitment to assist Pakistan in improving its ability to secure its territory.” Pakistani Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed has told news agencies that he expects 10 more used jets to be delivered by the end of 2008.

A Department of Defense spokesperson told Arms Control Today July 25 that Pakistan will not pay for the used, older model F-16s, whose flying conditions vary, but will assume the costs for refurbishing and modernizing them. The U.S. government cleared Islamabad last year for about $2.1 billion of new weapons, avionics, engines, and other equipment for F-16 fighters. (See ACT, November 2006. )

In late 2005, the United States donated two F-16A fighters to Pakistan in the first transfer of fighter aircraft to that state since 1990. That year, President George H.W. Bush blocked arms sales to Pakistan because his administration would not certify under U.S. law that Islamabad did not possess a nuclear device. Seeking Pakistan’s allegiance after the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush waived the prohibitions. (See ACT, October 2001. )

Pakistan is supposed to begin receiving the 18 new, top-of-the-line F-16C/Ds in three years and has the option to purchase 18 more. Under U.S. law, Congress was notified of the possible sales, and the House International Relations Committee subsequently convened a hearing in July 2006 in which members blasted the Bush administration for not sufficiently consulting them about the deal. Legislators did not block the transaction—that would require a two-thirds supermajority—but some strongly rebuked the administration. (See ACT, September 2006. )

At the hearing, lawmakers such as Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and ranking member Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who is currently chairman, expressed concerns about the potential for unauthorized dissemination of sensitive technologies and for modification of the F-16s to carry nuclear weapons. Broad speculation exists that Pakistan modified previously delivered U.S. F-16s for nuclear delivery missions.

Administration officials assured Congress that the planes would be subject to more strict security measures by Pakistan and more robust U.S. oversight than in previous transfers between the two countries. “We’ve put into the deal that [Pakistan] must comply with the approved security plans before we’ll release any systems in a sale,” then-Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs John Hillen testified. These “security plans,” according to Hillen, would include “a very enhanced end-use monitoring program [and] semiannual inventories of all F-16 aircraft, equipment, and munitions, including related technical data.”

In recent interviews, neither U.S. nor Pakistani officials would provide any further details to Arms Control Today on the security arrangements.

President Bush signed into law Aug. 3 legislation that could block future F-16 transfers. The Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act prohibits the sale of military equipment to Pakistan if it is not “committed to eliminating the Taliban” within its borders. However, the determination of whether Pakistan is progressing aggressively enough against the Taliban will be left up to the president, who has said he views Pakistan as a key ally.

Pakistan’s neighbor and rival, India, has publicly worried about the U.S. F-16 transfers. The Pentagon, however, noted in June 2006 that the exports “would not significantly reduce India’s quantitative or qualitative military advantage.”

Still, New Delhi is exploring the purchase of U.S. combat aircraft to fill an Indian procurement goal of 126 planes. India is eyeing both F-16s and newer F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, but it may instead opt for Russian MiG-35s.

U.S., Pakistan Seal Combat Aircraft Deal

Wade Boese

Pakistan’s air force will receive a major makeover courtesy of the United States. Under two recently finalized agreements and a pending deal, Washington will upgrade Islamabad’s fleet of existing U.S. combat aircraft and deliver up to 62 new and used fighter jets.

On Sept. 30, Pakistan signed one agreement for 18 new F-16C/D fighters with the option to buy 18 more and another contract for the modernization of 34 previously purchased U.S. F-16A/B aircraft. A third deal signed that day covers bombs and missiles, including AIM-120C missiles, which enable pilots to fire at foes before they are within visual range. Earlier cost estimates put the full package at $5 billion.

Also in the works is a transfer of 26 used U.S. F-16s to Pakistan. A Department of State official informed Arms Control Today Oct. 19 that the Pentagon is still selecting the planes.

The transactions culminate a five-year reconciliation between the United States and Pakistan after a long, bitter dispute linked to Islamabad’s nuclear arms endeavors.

During the 1980s when the United States partnered with Pakistan to combat Soviet forces in Afghanistan, Washington turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s suspected nuclear weapons program while providing conventional weapons to the country. The year after the 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the United States halted arms supplies, including F-16s, because President George H. W. Bush did not certify to Congress that Islamabad did not have a nuclear bomb.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to a U.S. re-evaluation of relations with Pakistan as Washington sought allies to help depose Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. President George W. Bush promptly waived U.S. arms sanctions on Pakistan, including those levied for its May 1998 nuclear tests. (See ACT, October 2001.) In March 2005, the United States announced its willingness to resume exports of F-16s, which can be modified to deliver nuclear arms.

Given that complicated history, Pakistan’s close ties to China, and the 2004 exposure of a sprawling nuclear black market run by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the United States insisted that Pakistan adopt extraordinary security precautions for the planes after receipt. These include enhanced U.S. access. The first new fighters are scheduled for delivery in 2009, although the used planes could be shipped sooner.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Cleared for U.S. Arms Buys

Wade Boese

Key lawmakers this summer slammed the Bush administration for its handling of up to $5 billion in proposed combat aircraft sales to Pakistan, but Congress still let the weapons deals proceed. Legislators also recently assented to $9.7 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The 1976 Arms Export Control Act requires Congress to receive notice of proposed arms sales exceeding $14 million that do not involve Australia, Japan, New Zealand, or NATO members, all of which have a higher reporting threshold and a shorter congressional review period. In all other cases, lawmakers have 30 calendar days to block a notified deal by passing a joint resolution of disapproval.

On June 28, the Pentagon detailed plans to provide Pakistan with 36 F-16C/D combat aircraft, an assortment of F-16 engines and upgrade kits, and thousands of bombs and missiles, including 500 advanced air-to-air missiles. Describing Pakistan as a “vital ally,” the Pentagon stated the arms would be used in fighting terrorists, such as al Qaeda, and “would not significantly reduce India’s quantitative or qualitative military advantage” in the region. With India, the Bush administration is pursuing closer military ties, including offering F-16s, as well as an enhanced civil nuclear trade relationship.

The United States and Pakistan have tangled for years over sales of F-16s, which can be built or modified to deliver nuclear weapons. The United States provided Pakistan with 40 F-16s during the 1980s but then halted deliveries in 1990 over Islamabad’s covert nuclear weapons program, which Pakistan unveiled to the world with nuclear tests in May 1998.

The United States resisted Pakistan’s pressure to end the F-16 freeze until President George W. Bush relented in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the subsequent U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan. The two countries started negotiating possible sale options in 2005, and the Pentagon transferred two older-model F-16s to Pakistan in December. (See ACT, January/February 2006.)

Still, the administration’s formal announcement to deliver three dozen new F-16s to Pakistan sparked an uproar from House International Relations Committee members, who convened a July 20 hearing to upbraid a senior administration official about the deal. Although some committee members faulted aspects of the sale, much of the outcry stemmed from the administration’s failure to follow traditional procedures.

Specifically, the administration did not give the 20-day advance notice typical for formal arms sales notifications. This period is intended to allow reservations about a particular sale to be expressed and worked out privately to avoid public quarrels.

At the hearing, Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) charged that neglecting the pre-notification process constituted a “deliberate and, we believe, wholly inappropriate maneuver by the State Department to diminish the Congress’ lawful oversight of arms sales.” Consequently, he said, “long-standing congressional concerns about the potential for technology diversion remain.” The Department of State administers arms sales policies and licensing, while the Pentagon helps negotiate and implement U.S. government weapons transfers to foreign governments.

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs John Hillen defended the administration’s approach at the hearing. He contended the administration had taken “unprecedented” steps to keep Congress appraised and would require Pakistan to enact stringent measures to prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to or stealing U.S. technology. “The security plan greatly exceeds United States Air Force standards for our own security of these weapons systems,” Hillen claimed.

Ranking panel member Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) severely rebuked Hillen, charging that “the centrifugal force of this spin threatens to fling the facts right out the window.” He blasted the administration’s behavior as a “colossal mistake” and an “arrogant usurpation of congressional authority.”

Hyde and Lantos introduced legislation the same day that, among other things, would have codified the 20-day pre-notification practice. A congressional staffer told Arms Control Today Aug. 15 that the legislation is no longer under consideration because the administration provided assurances that the Pakistani case “was not a precedent and would not happen again.”

Some legislators objected to the sale for reasons other than procedure. Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) argued that F-16s were not the proper weapons for Pakistan because the planes are suited to fighting “sophisticated air forces, not the Taliban, not radical Islam,” and could be converted to deliver nuclear weapons.

Hillen responded that Pakistan had employed F-16s in “hundreds of missions in the global war on terror.” He further said that the F-16s to be delivered to Pakistan “will not be nuclear capable” and that Islamabad has “given no indications that they want to [modify F-16s to deliver nuclear weapons].” The Arms Export Control Act prohibits any U.S. arms recipient from using imported weapons “for purposes other than those for which furnished.”

Whether Pakistan configured previously imported U.S. F-16s for nuclear missions is uncertain. Political-military affairs bureau spokesperson Jason Greer declined to answer Arms Control Today questions on the subject. A July 6 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which conducts studies for lawmakers, noted that “the 32 F-16s that Pakistan already fields are believed to be nuclear capable.”

Democratic Reps. Gary Ackerman (N.Y.) and Edward Markey (Mass.) proposed separate legislation to block the sale, but neither effort garnered much support.

Markey’s bill sought to tie the F-16 sales to Pakistan halting construction of a new heavy-water reactor, which was exposed publicly July 24 by the Washington-based nongovernmental Institute for Science and International Security. Once operational, the reactor could produce enough material to build up to 50 nuclear weapons a year, the organization reported. Administration officials, who claimed Washington knew of the project for “some time,” said they are urging Pakistan not to use the reactor for military purposes, but Markey argued on the House floor July 26 that U.S.-supplied F-16s might someday be carrying nuclear bombs made possible by this uncompleted facility.

Although nearly double the value of the sales to Pakistan, the proposed weapons deals with Saudi Arabia announced in July did not provoke any notable congressional reaction. Riyadh is now cleared to acquire 24 UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters, 58 M1A2S Abrams tanks, 724 light-armored vehicles, 1,700 night vision goggles, and thousands of radio systems. The sales also include upgrades for 315 M1A2 tanks and 12 AH-64A Apache attack helicopters already in the Saudi arsenal.

Since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Saudi Arabia has amassed significant quantities of foreign weaponry. An August 2005 CRS report identified Saudi Arabia as receiving nearly $55 billion in arms imports from 1997 to 2004, ranking it as the top arms importer for that period among developing world countries. This total far surpassed the second-highest tally of $13 billion for China.


Indo-Pakistani Talks Advance

William Huntington

Pakistan and India are nearing final agreement on a proposal to reduce the risk of nuclear accidents or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. According to a joint statement produced at the most recent round of talks on nuclear confidence-building measures (CBMs) in Islamabad April 25-26, the two nations “held detailed discussions on the draft text” of the proposal presented by India and “agreed to work towards its finalization,” possibly as early as July.

Subsequently, on April 27 India and Pakistan turned to discussing conventional CBMs and agreed to seek new accords on a number of issues, including finalizing a set of rules governing those sections of their border not in dispute. These rules would address such concerns as the setback distance for construction of facilities on either side of the border. Although most of the boundary between India and Pakistan is recognized as a legitimate international border by both sides, certain areas, most notably Jammu and Kashmir, are disputed.

Further, the two countries agreed to enhance the existing agreement barring the development of new defensive works along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, establish rules for holding meetings between sector-level military commanders, and finalize an agreement on the expedient return of “inadvertent line crosser(s).”

In addition, Pakistan presented India with a draft text on the prevention of incidents at sea.

Nuclear negotiators are set to meet again soon. Pakistani Additional Secretary for Foreign Affairs Tariq Osman Haider, who led the Pakistani delegation, was quoted by Reuters April 26 as saying that “finalization of the [nuclear] agreement would take place during the next round of foreign secretary-level talks in New Delhi in July.”

However, even as CBM talks continue, Pakistan’s National Command Authority in May said it will not only maintain its missile program but further improve its strategic capability. Islamabad claimed it was reacting in part to the pending U.S.-Indian civil nuclear deal and its potential effect on regional stability.

Four rounds of nuclear CBM discussions have taken place since 2004 as part of the “composite dialogue” framework set up between the nations to resolve contentious issues. There have been three rounds of similar conventional talks.

As recently as 2002, India and Pakistan deployed significant numbers of troops along their border during a confrontation stemming from Indian accusations that Pakistan had aided terrorist attacks on its territory. (See ACT, April 2002.)



U.S. Combat Aircraft Delivered to Pakistan

Wade Boese

The United States delivered two F-16A combat aircraft to Pakistan Dec. 13, marking the first such transfer since 1990 when Washington had halted exports of F-16s to Islamabad because of its nuclear weapons program. The planes can be converted to deliver nuclear bombs.

The Pentagon supplied the two fighters through its Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program, which enables foreign governments to acquire arms or military equipment retired from U.S. military service. These exports are generally conducted with little or no charge and provided “as is.” In this case, Pakistan did pay for some refurbishment work, a Pentagon spokesperson told Arms Control Today Dec. 16.

More F-16s might be in the EDA pipeline for Pakistan, but the Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on that possibility. Jane’s Defense Weekly reported in August that “at least 10 additional refurbished” F-16s could be supplied in 2006.

Pakistan has grander plans. Islamabad reportedly was negotiating much of last year for a separate purchase of some 70 new F-16s. But Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf said in November that his government would postpone the F-16 buy while the country recovered from a devastating earthquake one month earlier.

The Bush administration announced in March that it would favorably consider Pakistani requests for F-16s. (See ACT, May 2005.) Washington had provided 40 of the fighters to Pakistan before 1990. But that year, President George H. W. Bush concluded that he could no longer certify to Congress that Islamabad did not possess a nuclear explosive device. U.S. law prohibited military exports to Pakistan in such an instance.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush, eager to secure Islamabad’s help in the U.S.-declared global war on terrorism, waived this restriction and others imposed for Pakistan’s May 1998 nuclear tests. At the same time, Bush lifted similar sanctions on Pakistan’s neighbor and nuclear rival, India. But he held back from selling either country advanced fighters. (See ACT, October 2001.)

Now, Washington is offering U.S. fighters to New Delhi as well. A traditional Russian arms client, India is weighing the purchase of 126 new combat aircraft.


Subcontinental Nightmares

Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons. By Sumit Ganguly and Devin T. Hagerty

Robert M. Hathaway


Although tensions between India and Pakistan have ebbed over the past two years, South Asia remains a brew of festering national, religious, sectarian, communal, and ethnic animosities. India and Pakistan have fought four wars since the two countries achieved independence in 1947, and both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Periods of “peace” routinely see artillery exchanges, cross-border infiltration, and the sponsorship of insurgency in the territory of the other. Many Pakistanis believe that India has unjustly occupied territory that rightfully belongs to their country. Kashmir remains a flashpoint, which as recently as 2002 contributed to the mobilization of one million heavily armed men along their common border.

It is unsurprising then that President Bill Clinton once famously called South Asia “the most dangerous place in the world.” Many South Asians view remarks such as those of Clinton as condescending and racist, implying that Asians, unlike Americans and Russians during the Cold War, cannot be trusted to manage their nuclear arsenals with restraint and common sense. These criticisms have come even as Pakistan has occasionally sought to play on U.S. nuclear fears to prod Washington into greater activity to help resolve the political disputes— Kashmir above all—that, left unchecked, might lead to war in the subcontinent.

After all, with the exception of the sharp but brief engagement on the heights of Kargil in 1999, India and Pakistan have not fought a full-fledged war since the Bangladesh crisis of 1971. So, how have these two bitter rivals, despite repeated crises and profound mistrust, avoided a major war over the past few decades? How crucial have the United States and other outside powers been in restraining such a conflict? Will this good fortune continue?

In Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons, Sumit Ganguly and Devin T. Hagerty attempt what they describe as “the first comprehensive analysis of Indo-Pakistani crisis [behavior] in South Asia’s nuclear era.” They do not use “comprehensive” in the traditional sense of all-encompassing or exhaustive, but rather to indicate that their purview encompasses all the Indo-Pakistani crises, major and minor—six by their count—over the past 20 years. Short chapters offer concise but useful summaries of each of the six: the brief 1984 flurry when Islamabad (and Washington) worried that India might launch preventive air strikes against Pakistan’s nascent nuclear facilities; the 1987 “Brasstacks” crisis; the April 1990 war scare; the mutual fear of pre-emptive nuclear strikes that followed the May 1998 nuclear tests first of India, then Pakistan; the 1999 Kargil war, which may have resulted in nearly 2,500 battle deaths; and the 2002 standoff that followed the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament building in New Delhi.

The underlying premise of Fearful Symmetry is that Indian and Pakistani nuclear weapons capabilities and the possibility that military conflict might escalate to the nuclear level have been the main deterrent to a major war in the six crises of the past 20 years. The authors quite sensibly place considerable emphasis on the “stability-instability paradox,” which holds that nuclear weapons can be simultaneously stabilizing and destabilizing. At the macro level, nuclear arsenals provide stability because both sides fear that full-scale hostilities could escalate to the nuclear level. However, the mutual possession of nuclear weapons also permits, even encourages, small-scale probes, such as that undertaken by Pakistan in Kargil in 1999, because decision-makers assume that their adversary’s response must of necessity be proportionate.

The study’s finding that nuclear weapons have been a force for peace in South Asia is plausible insofar as it goes, yet leaves the reader unsatisfied. The authors announce that they write from “a theoretical perspective” best described as “mere realism.” Still, one hungers for some tangible proof regarding the efficacy of deterrence, rather than its mere assertion. In this context, proof would probably require access to key internal documents central to the Indian and Pakistani decision-making process or unusually candid interviews with leading political and military actors who actually participated in the key decisions for war and peace. Ganguly and Hagerty are probably correct that a fear of escalation to the nuclear level was a factor in such decision-making. They may even be correct that it was the decisive factor. Nonetheless, they might have tempered their repeated assertions to this effect by conceding that the evidence leading to such a conclusion is lacking and their judgments are necessarily speculative.

Ganguly, a prolific scholar, has elsewhere argued[1] that Pakistani decision-makers have consistently and grossly underestimated Indian military prowess and likely Indian responses to military challenges, a theme to which he and Hagerty return in the current study. Nor has the record of Indian decision-making been exemplary; note the authors’ indictment of the misjudgments that left New Delhi unprepared to detect the Kargil incursion at an early moment. This being the case, then, one can draw little comfort from their confidence that nuclear deterrence, because it has succeeded in the past, can be relied on to save the region from large-scale war, conventional or nuclear. Indeed, the authors concede that India and Pakistan are each years away from adequate safeguards against the accidental launch of a nuclear armed missile. Nor do they give sufficient attention to the nightmarish scenario of a crazed fanatic or group of extremists deliberately throwing the region into nuclear Armageddon, a scenario that, after the September 11 terrorist attacks, one cannot absolutely dismiss.

A new, analytically sophisticated study by Indian scholar Arpit Rajain, Nuclear Deterrence in Southern Asia: China, India and Pakistan, reminds us that no consideration of nuclear deterrence in South Asia is complete if it focuses exclusively on India and Pakistan. China also is an integral element in the security equation of South, or, as Rajain prefers, “Southern,” Asia. To Rajain, this “triangular nuclear competition...is qualitatively different, has far more variables working simultaneously and remains geo-strategically more dangerous” than the Soviet-U.S. nuclear rivalry of the Cold War. Rajain also argues that the psychological attitudes of decision-makers at moments of crisis will perhaps influence their choices in irrational or at least unpredictable ways, which should further erode our confidence in deterrence theory predicated on a rational actor model. Decision-makers in Beijing, Islamabad, and New Delhi, Rajain warns, “should not lull themselves into thinking that a credible minimum deterrent posture would prevent crisis and outbreak of hostilities.” Ganguly and Hagerty would not disagree with this caution, but the tone of their study is considerably less emphatic on this point.

As for U.S. actions, Ganguly and Hagerty judge that in some instances, as during the 1999 Kargil war, the United States has played a constructive role in lowering tensions. On other occasions, however, especially during the 1984 and 1998 crises, Washington has been “inept,” “ineffective,” or “counterproductive.” The United States, they add, can and should do more to encourage forward movement on the contentious Kashmir issue, now as always the most likely trigger for a major Indo-Pakistani war. Washington must move from crisis management to conflict resolution, they contend. The book’s final chapter offers a step-by-step road map for Washington to encourage a more positive Indo-Pakistani relationship.

If all that were required was a more proactive U.S. policy. Yet, Ganguly and Hagerty acknowledge that a resolution of the Kashmir dispute would undermine the dominance, even the legitimacy, of Pakistan’s major power brokers: the army, of course, but also neo-feudal landowners, the business establishment, and “Islamists of various sociopolitical hues.” A splendid new book by Husain Haqqani, Pakistani journalist, scholar, and former adviser to Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, makes much the same point. Continued hostility between India and Pakistan, Haqqani argues in Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, provides the Pakistan army with a justification for retaining the reins of political power.

Haqqani offers a sobering exploration of the unholy alliance, historical and current, between the Islamists and Pakistan’s all-powerful army. Almost from the moment of Pakistan’s creation, he writes, the country’s leaders, not seeing the mullahs as a serious threat and believing they could use an Islamic ideology for their own ends, promoted the idea of Pakistan as an Islamic state. Ayub Khan, who seized power in 1958 as Pakistan’s first military ruler, “envisioned Islam as a nation-building tool, controlled by an enlightened military leader rather than by clerics.” The parade of generals who succeeded him, up to and including Pervez Musharraf, have followed the same course. Yet, by embracing the notion of an ideological state, the nation’s civilian and military leadership opened the way for a time when the mullahs would demand a controlling voice in the affairs of that state.

To this day, Haqqani writes, Musharraf views the country’s secular politicians, not the Islamists, as his principal rival for political power and regards the latter as useful political allies. This gives Pakistan’s Islamist parties a greater influence than they could hope to exercise in an open, democratic political system because, when given the opportunity to vote in free elections, Pakistanis have consistently opted for secular rather than religious leadership. Today, as in the past, military rule foments religious militancy in Pakistan with sweeping implications for important U.S. national security objectives. The alliance between mosque and military, Haqqani judges, “has the potential of frustrating antiterrorist operations, radicalizing key segments of the Islamic world, and bringing India and Pakistan yet again to the brink of war.” In the struggle against terrorism, he cautions, Pakistan is a U.S. “ally of convenience, not of conviction.”

The Pakistani army for 50 years has been guided by a national security policy tripod, the three legs of which emphasize Islam as the national unifier, rivalry with India as the principal objective of the state’s foreign policy, and alliance with the United States as the handy means to defray the costs of Pakistan’s massive military expenditures. All three policy legs, Haqqani stresses, have served to encourage extremist Islamism. So long as this policy tripod continues to dominate the mindsets of Pakistan’s leaders, genuine peace with India will remain impossible.

Almost from the beginning, U.S. thinking about Pakistan has been characterized by willful self-delusion. Washington wrongfully assumed a similarity of U.S. and Pakistani aims during the Cold War. A Republican White House and a Democratic Congress thought they could use Pakistan’s intelligence services to unleash jihad in Afghanistan without having to worry about how else Islamabad might employ the jihadis. The United States allowed itself to believe that generous military assistance during the 1980s would give Pakistan the confidence to forgo the development of a nuclear weapons capability. Even in the face of compelling evidence that Pakistani officials at the highest levels have peddled nuclear secrets to anyone with cash, Washington has pretended that Islamabad shares its nonproliferation agenda. Successive U.S. administrations have seen the army as a bulwark against the Islamists and have viewed Pakistan as a force for moderation in the Islamic world. All comforting pipe dreams divorced from reality.

Today, the argument takes the form that abandoning Musharraf opens the door for religious extremism. This line of reasoning fails to recognize how responsible the army is for the rise of religious zealotry in Pakistan. Washington professes to see the army as the only realistic alternative to Islamist radicalism, but given the alliance between mosque and military, sustaining the military’s right to govern Pakistan has the effect of perpetuating the influence of radical Islamists. Continued U.S. support for the Pakistani military, Haqqani warns, “makes it difficult for Pakistan’s weak, secular, civil society to assert itself and wean Pakistan from the rhetoric of Islamist ideology.” The United States, in this analysis, becomes an enabler of the very extremism it opposes.

It is a lamentable fact that Pakistan’s civilian politicians have failed their country badly. Haqqani’s study reminds us, however, that the army has never permitted the politicians to govern nor allowed politics to take its course. Here as well, Washington has been something of a co-conspirator, making but meek protest as the military and the intelligence services manipulate elections, harass civilian politicians, and support Islamic parties that promote extremism and spew anti-American hatred. A senior U.S. official recently observed that Musharraf is a “hero in our eyes.”[2] Little wonder the general does not take Washington’s periodic comments about democracy seriously. Little wonder that the Pakistani man in the street finds it difficult to accept the sincerity of America’s fine words about promoting democracy in the Islamic world.

The United States, Haqqani writes, can no longer afford to ignore “ Pakistan’s state sponsorship of Islamist militants.” This dark picture of Pakistan contrasts starkly with the image of Pakistan as a moderate, tolerant, progressive state that Musharraf evokes when addressing Western audiences. Perhaps closer to the truth were his 2004 remarks to Pakistani editors, when he declared that “ Pakistan has two vital national interests: Being a nuclear state and the Kashmir cause.” Each, notably, brings Pakistan into conflict with the United States and with India.

So, what might be done to reduce the dangers inherent in the region? Rajain worries that deterrence may not suffice and urges all three Southern Asian nuclear powers to negotiate transparent confidence-building measures and to guard against miscommunication, misperception, and misinterpretation. Ganguly and Hagerty display greater faith in the efficacy of deterrence but call on the United States to be more proactive in brokering a political settlement in Kashmir. Haqqani believes that the Kashmir dispute will not be resolved nor peace between India and Pakistan ensured until Washington severs its support for military regimes in Islamabad. For starters, perhaps we can have a little less talk of Musharraf being a “hero in our eyes.”

Robert M. Hathaway is director of the Asia Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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1. Sumit Ganguly, Conflict Unending: India-Pakistan Tensions Since 1947 ( New York and Washington, DC: Columbia University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2001).

2. Glenn Kessler and Robin Wright, “Earthquake Aid for Pakistan Might Help U.S. Image,” The Washington Post, October 13, 2005.


A Review of Fearful Symmetry: India-Pakistan Crises in the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons by Sumit Ganguly and Devin T. Hagerty

India, Pakistan Sign Missile Notification Pact

Erin Creegan

India and Pakistan Oct. 3 finalized an agreement to notify each other in advance of ballistic missile flight tests. This long-awaited move aims to reduce tension between the two nuclear neighbors.

Indian External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh and Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri oversaw the signing of the pre-notification agreement, which went into force that day. The two sides had nearly completed the agreement earlier this year when the foreign ministers met in August, but the signing was delayed by prolonged negotiation over the final wording of the agreement.

Officials said that, under the accord, the country’s defense ministries will provide their counterparts at least 72 hours of notice before conducting a ballistic missile flight test. India and Pakistan agreed not to allow trajectories of tested missiles to approach or land close either to their accepted borders or the Line of Control, the cease-fire line running through the disputed region of Kashmir. They pledged not to allow tested missiles to fly closer than 40 kilometers from these boundaries or land closer than 70 kilometers away.

The agreement states that pre-notification applies only to tests conducted with surface-to-surface ballistic missiles launched from land or sea. The agreement does not apply to cruise missiles. Cruise missiles are powered their entire flight and can be maneuvered, while ballistic missiles are only powered for the first few minutes of their flight and follow a charted trajectory to the ground. Pakistan tested its first cruise missile Aug. 11. The agreement also does not apply to surface-to-air missiles. India conducted two such missile tests on the day of the agreement’s signing.

According to a representative from the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., who spoke to Arms Control Today Oct. 25, the limitations on missiles covered by the agreement reflected mutual reservations. The official said the missiles covered by the agreement represent a feasible de-escalation commitment by India and Pakistan, with the hope of inching toward more comprehensive commitments.

International reaction to the Agreement on Pre-Notification of Flight Testing of Ballistic Missiles was positive. A Department of State official told Arms Control Today Oct. 14 that the United States welcomes this achievement and is pleased with the commitment both countries have shown to the peace process.

India is estimated to have 45-95 nuclear warheads while Pakistan is believed to have 30-50 nuclear weapons. The countries’ geographical proximity assures mutual vulnerability to attack within a few minutes.


Pakistan, India Get Green Light to Buy U.S. Fighter Jets

May 2005

By Wade Boese

The Bush administration March 25 announced its willingness to sell advanced fighter aircraft to India and Pakistan, reversing 15 years of U.S. policy to deny Islamabad such arms because of its nuclear weapons ambitions. The decision came shortly after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited South Asia in a bid to further cultivate the two countries.

Asserting that U.S. arms sales to the nuclear rivals would not upset the regional military balance, administration officials said March 25 that they would negotiate with Pakistan about its long-standing request for F-16 fighters, which can be modified to deliver nuclear weapons. The officials also said U.S. manufacturers of the F-16 and F/A-18E/F combat aircraft would be permitted to compete for India’s tender for 125 new fighters.

Islamabad has not officially disclosed how many jets it is looking to buy, but it is thought to be seeking about two dozen. An administration official told reporters that “there is no set limit on what the [United States] is going to be willing to sell Pakistan.” When it worked with the United States to oust Soviet forces from Afghanistan in the 1980s, Pakistan acquired 40 F-16A/Bs.

The United States halted additional F-16 deliveries to Pakistan in 1990 after President George H. W. Bush could not certify to Congress under U.S. law that Islamabad did not possess a nuclear explosive device. Pakistan responded to Indian nuclear tests in May 1998 with tests of its own, leading to U.S. economic and military sanctions on both governments.

Most of these sanctions were lifted in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks as the Bush administration moved to secure Indian and Pakistani support for its war on terrorism. (See ACT, October 2001.) Yet, Washington remained reluctant to resume F-16 sales to Pakistan because of regional tensions and the risk of upsetting India.

The Bush administration contends conditions have now changed. Rice said April 5 that there has been a “significant improvement in relations between the two” since they almost came to blows in June 2002. Claiming that the administration has successfully “de-hyphenated the relationship” so Washington can pursue relations with both on “independent tracks,” Rice maintained that “we are creating a new set of circumstances in which the balance will be more stable by an American defense relationship with both of them.”

The budding U.S. relationship with India in the military sector, as well as in the civilian space and nuclear fields, appears to have tempered Indian reactions to the proposed U.S. sale of fighter jets to its neighbor, which New Delhi has vigorously opposed in the past. Indian officials made clear they still have reservations about the deal but have muffled their complaints. During Rice’s visit to the region, Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh noted March 16 that U.S.-Indian relations have reached a point where disagreements can be discussed “freely and frankly” and that India had made its position on U.S. F-16 sales to Pakistan well known.

A major arms client of Russia, India is increasingly eyeing U.S. weaponry. In addition to the potential fighter aircraft sale, the United States and India are discussing missile defenses. The two sides held a March 3-4 meeting on the subject in Hyderabad, India, and the U.S. government permitted Raytheon Corp., a U.S. company, to brief Indian officials for the first time on its Patriot system, which is designed to provide a defense against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Major U.S. arms companies also participated in force for the first time, according to an Indian government spokesperson, at an Indian aerospace exposition in February. Lockheed Martin Corp., which builds the F-16, and Boeing Corp., which manufactures the F/A-18E/F, exhibited at the event.

Although India may have stifled its objections to the United States selling F-16s to Pakistan, some U.S. lawmakers, many of whom describe themselves as friends of India, are expressing their concern.

A bipartisan group of 20 legislators from the House of Representatives sent a March 23 letter to President George W. Bush opposing such a transaction on the grounds it “would undermine our long-term strategic interests.” They argued that Pakistan intends to use the planes against India and not in fighting terrorism, as the administration contends.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), one of the letter’s signers, also introduced bipartisan legislation April 12 that would condition military assistance to Pakistan. A key provision would first require a certification that Islamabad had cooperated fully in shutting down the nuclear black market network run by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan and had granted the United States “unrestricted opportunities to interview” Khan. Pakistan has not given any outside officials access to Khan, but Rice asserted March 17 that the United States has “good cooperation with Pakistan” regarding the Khan network.

Two congressional staffers told Arms Control Today in April that the Ackerman-backed legislation, the Pakistan Proliferation Accountability Act of 2005, faces an uphill fight despite general congressional unease over Pakistan’s proliferation record. Most lawmakers view Islamabad as an essential ally in the war on terrorism.

Regardless of the bill’s fate, Congress possesses the authority to pass a joint resolution to block a proposed arms sale once an administration issues a formal notification of a completed contract. Still, Congress has never successfully done so. Sometimes, arms sales are amended or abandoned before a formal notification due to strong congressional pressure. A formal notification on the proposed Pakistani deal has yet to be made and could take months, depending on the pace of contract negotiations.

Lockheed Martin, which has delivered more than 4,400 F-16s to the United States and 23 other countries, wants to wrap up the deal quickly. Currently, the final F-16 is scheduled to roll off the assembly line in 2008, and the manufacturer wants to solidify the Pakistani deal to extend production longer.

Similarly, Boeing is eager to make India its first foreign customer for the F/A-18E/F. Company spokesperson Patricia Frost told Arms Control Today March 15 that the firm is “very excited about this opportunity.”

The Bush administration March 25 announced its willingness to sell advanced fighter aircraft to India and Pakistan...

New Details Emerge on Pakistani Networks

Paul Kerr 

New details are emerging about Pakistan’s role as both a customer and supplier of materials and equipment with potential nuclear weapons applications as international investigations pry deeper into the country’s clandestine procurement networks.

Islamabad admitted in early 2004 that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the “father” of its nuclear weapons program, had been running a clandestine proliferation network that supplied countries such as Iran, Libya, and North Korea with uranium-enrichment technology. Khan developed the network through contacts he had cultivated while obtaining materials and equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

Uranium enrichment increases the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope, producing either low-enriched uranium for civilian nuclear reactor fuel or highly enriched uranium (HEU). If enriched to high enough levels, HEU can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons.

Khan’s network supplied Iran and Libya with technology and equipment for gas centrifuges, which enrich uranium hexafluoride gas by spinning it at very high speeds. In the Libyan case, Tripoli has acknowledged that the network also supplied Libya with uranium hexafluoride and designs for a nuclear weapon.

The United States has repeatedly stated that there is no evidence that Pakistan’s government was involved with or supported the Khan network. Washington has repeatedly expressed satisfaction with Islamabad’s cooperation, despite Pakistan’s refusal to allow any outside officials to question Khan.

Pakistan as Supplier


Pakistan has recently stepped up its cooperation with an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation into the sources of some enriched uranium particles found in Iranian facilities. Iran has admitted to enriching uranium to very low proportions of uranium-235, but IAEA inspectors have found particles enriched to much higher levels. (See ACT, April 2005.)

As part of the investigation, IAEA inspectors have already taken environmental samples at several locations in Pakistan to determine where the uranium might have been enriched. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri told reporters April 1 that Islamabad has now agreed “in principle” to send centrifuges to the IAEA for additional sampling, but will not allow agency inspectors to interview Khan or inspect Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei reported last November that the IAEA’s evidence so far “tends, on balance, to support” Iran’s claim that the particles came from imported centrifuge components, but indicated that there could be other explanations for the uranium’s presence.

North Korea

The United States has recently publicly disclosed an intelligence assessment that North Korea supplied Libya with uranium hexafluoride via the Khan network.

Speaking to an audience in Seoul March 6, then-U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill indicated that Washington has “evidence” that the material originated in North Korea and “was brokered through Pakistan with the knowledge that it would end up in Libya.”

A March 22 Department of State press statement emphasized that Washington “has no evidence that the Government of Pakistan authorized the transfer.” Several months ago, National Security Council officials briefed Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean officials about the intelligence.

Press reports of the shipment, which perhaps added a new piece to the Khan network puzzle, first appeared almost a year ago. Tripoli had disclosed that it had the nuclear material following its December 2003 decision to give up its nuclear weapons efforts, which included a uranium-enrichment program. (See ACT, March 2004.) The IAEA has since reported that Libya ordered 20 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride from the Khan network, but it has not yet disclosed the material’s country of origin. Malaysia’s inspector general of police reported in 2004 that uranium hexafluoride had been shipped from Pakistan to Libya.

North Korea has indigenous supplies of natural uranium, but whether it can produce uranium hexafluoride is unclear. In February interviews with Arms Control Today, government sources expressed skepticism that Pyongyang was Tripoli’s uranium supplier. (See ACT, March 2005.)

Pakistan as Customer

The recent indictment of a Pakistani businessman for violating U.S. export control laws came shortly after a March 15 Reuters report that Pakistan is continuing to acquire material and equipment from overseas for its nuclear weapons program.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, announced April 8 that a federal grand jury in Washington had indicted Humayun Khan for violating U.S. export control laws by acquiring material with potential nuclear weapons applications.

ICE also revealed the same day that Asher Karni, an Israeli citizen living in South Africa, had pled guilty this past September to assisting Khan’s acquisition efforts.

According to court documents, Karni had oscilloscopes and triggered spark gaps shipped from U.S. firms to his company in South Africa, called Top-Cape Technology, at Khan’s direction. Karni obtained three oscilloscopes between March and August 2003. He then re-exported them to two companies in Pakistan.

Karni also obtained 66 spark gaps from a U.S. manufacturer and then sent them to Pakistan via the United Arab Emirates. However, U.S. officials who had been alerted to Karni’s efforts persuaded the manufacturer to disable the spark gaps.

Oscilloscopes can be used to obtain data from tests of nuclear weapons and related components. Spark gaps can serve as detonators for certain types of nuclear weapons.

Karni was arrested in January 2004 as he attempted to enter the United States. Khan remains in Pakistan.

An ICE official told Arms Control Today April 21 that the investigation is ongoing, adding that additional domestic and foreign entities could have been involved in the scheme.

Mohammed Sadiq, Pakistan’s deputy chief of mission in the United States, told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn April 10 that Khan “was not involved in procuring triggers or other equipment for Pakistan’s nuclear programme.”

ICE also announced that Karni pled guilty to exporting items to India that are “controlled for nuclear non-proliferation reasons.” It did not elaborate.


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