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Pakistan’s misguided and misguarded Missiles
Author : Anil Bhat  |       .
Posted on : Wednesday, February 10, 2010      Read More
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Pakistan’s response to India’s fourth successful test launch of the nuclear-capable, 3,500 kms range Agni-3 missile, as reflected in The Dawn, is “India's current arsenal of missiles is largely intended for confronting archrival Pakistan. The Agni III, in contrast, is India's longest-range missile, designed to reach 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) – putting China's major cities well into range, as well as Middle Eastern targets…. The test appeared unlikely to significantly raise tensions in the region.”

In 1974, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto announced: in response to India's first Smiling Buddha nuclear tests,

 “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb?”  

In fact, India, which championed the cause of non allignment, decided upon 1974 nuclear test mainly because of Pakistan embarking on nuclear development in January 1972 under the leadership of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who delegated nuclear scientists Munir Ahmad Khan, Abdul Qadeer Khan and military administrator Zahid Ali Akbar Khan under the program called Project-706, which made major progress under its third tin-pot President, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, when Qadeer Khan went on secret shopping trips to acquire nuclear wherewithall.

Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program got going in 1974 when the Directorate of Technical Development (DTD) was set up in Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) by chairman Munir Ahmad Khan.Munir Ahmad Khan, one of the pioneers of Pakistan's atomic bomb, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London's dossier on Pakistan's nuclear program. Pakistan acquisition of sensitive uranium enrichment technology and expertise gained momemtum by 1975, with the arrival of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, a German-trained metallurgist who brought with him knowledge of gas centrifuge technologies that he had through his position at the classified URENCO uranium enrichment plant in the Netherlands. He was put in charge of building, equipping and operating Pakistan's Kahuta facility, which was established in 1976. Under Khan's direction, Pakistan employed an extensive clandestine network in order to obtain the necessary materials and technology for its developing uranium enrichment capabilities.

DTD was assigned the task of developing the implosion design, trigger mechanism, physics calculations, high-speed electronics, high-precision chemical and mechanical components, high explosive lenses for Pakistan's nuclear weapons. It came up with its first implosion design of a nuclear weapon by 1978 which was then improved and later tested on 11 March 1983 when PAEC carried out Pakistan's first successful cold test of a nuclear device. Between 1983 and 1990, PAEC carried out 24 more cold tests of various nuclear weapon designs. DTD had also developed a miniaturized weapon design by 1987 that could be delivered by all Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft.

Finally, on 28 May 1998, a few weeks after India's second nuclear test (Operation Shakti), Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Chagai Hills, Chaghai district, Balochistan. This operation was named Chagai-I by Pakistan, the base having been long-constructed by provincial martial law administrator Rahimuddin Khan during the 1980s. Pakistan's fissile material production takes place at Kahuta and Khushab/Jauharabad, where weapons-grade plutonium is made by the scientists.

Pakistan acceded to the Geneva Protocol on 15 April 1960, the Biological Weapons Convention in 1974 and the Chemical Weapons Convention on 28 October 1997.In 1999 Pakistan signed the Lahore Accords with India, agreeing on a bilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. However, Pakistan, like India and Israel, is not a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and, consequently, not bound by any of its provisions.

Pakistan's nuclear proliferation has continued unabated despite the arrest of A Q Khan and its assurance to the International Atomic Energy Commission about not proliferating and ‘transparency’ of its Chashma Nuclear Power Complex series of Nuclear Power Plants. In November 2006, The IAEA Board of Governors approved an agreement with the PAEC to apply safeguards to new nuclear power plants to be built in the country with Chinese assistance.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton informed that Pakistan has dispersed its nuclear weapons throughout the country, increasing the security so that they could not fall into terrorist hands. Her comments came as new satellite images released by the ISIS suggested Pakistan is increasing its capacity to produce plutonium, a fuel for atomic bombs. The institute has also claimed that Pakistan has built two more nuclear reactors at Khoshab increasing the number of plutonium producing reactors to three.
In May 2009, during the anniversary of Pakistan's first nuclear weapons test, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif claimed that Pakistan’s nuclear security is the strongest in the world. According to Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's nuclear safety program and nuclear security program is the strongest program in the world and there is no such capability in any other country for radical elements to steal or possess nuclear weapons. This is probably the most ironic joke because Pakistan has the highest density of terrorist organisations who are quite in control of chunkls of its territory and have their eyes on its nukes. There have been fears voiced from time to time about the possiblity of some of these groups already having acquired some of these materials in some form or the other.

Below is a list of all known missiles with Pakistan's armed forces, believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear payload.

 

Hatf-I

SRBM

100 km

500 kg

Operational

Abdali

SRBM

180 km

500 kg

Operational

Ghaznavi

SRBM

290 km

500 kg

Operational

M-11

SRBM

300 km

500 kg

Operational

Shaheen-I

SRBM

750 km

850 kg

Operational

Ghauri-I

MRBM

1,500 km

750 kg

Operational

Ghauri-II

MRBM

2,300 km

750-1,200 kg

Operational

Shaheen-II

IRBM

2,500 km

700 kg

Operational

Ghauri-III

IRBM

3,500+ km

1,200+ kg

Under Development

Shaheen-III

IRBM

4,500+ km

1,200+ kg

Under Development

Babur (Hatf 7)

Cruise Missile

700 km

500 kg

Operational

Ra'ad (Hatf 8)

-do-air launched

350 km

500 kg

Operational

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is believed to have practised "toss-bombing" in the 1990s, a method of launching weapons from fighter-bombers which can also be used to deliver nuclear warheads. The PAF has two units (No. 16 Sqn and No. 26 Sqn) operating around 50 of the Chinese-built Nanchang A-5C, believed to be the preferred vehicle for delivery of nuclear weapons due to its long range. The others are various variants of the Dassault Mirage III and Dassault Mirage 5, of which around 156 are currently operated by the Pakistan Air Force. The PAF also operates some 46 F-16 fighters, the first 32 of which were delivered in the 1980s and believed by some to have been modified for nuclear weapons delivery.

It has also been reported that an air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) with a range of 350 km has been developed by Pakistan, designated Hatf 8 and named Ra'ad ALCM, which may theoretically be armed with a nuclear warhead. It was reported to have been test-fired by a Dassault Mirage III fighter and, according to one Western official, is believed to be capable of penetrating some air defence/missile defence systems.

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