Less than two hours before announcing his resignation as president of the Soviet Union on Dec. 25, 1991, Mikhail S. Gorbachev placed a telephone call to President George H. W. Bush, who was celebrating Christmas with his grandchildren at Camp David.
The gruesome death of 18 jawans in Uri is, arguably, a defining moment for PM Modi’s foreign policy. But India’s larger enduring strategic conundrum remains the same. How do you deal with a nuclear state that uses terror as an instrument and which is still bankrolled by major powers?
Pakistan has a nuclear weapons stockpile of 110 to 130 warheads, an increase from an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in 2011. With several delivery systems in development, four operating plutonium production reactors, and uranium facilities, the country’s stockpile will likely increase over the next 10 years, but by how much will depend on many things. Two key factors will be how many nuclear-capable launchers Islamabad plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Based on Pakistan’s performance over the past 20 years and its current and anticipated weapons deployments, the authors estimate that its stockpile could realistically grow to 220 to 250 warheads by 2025, making it the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state.
Following a raid by Indian special forces into Myanmar early this month, increasing attention has been given to the prospect that India might use similar means against Pakistan to pressure it to end support for anti-Indian militant groups. India’s on-going military modernization and headline-grabbing increases in defense spending have already raised concerns that it threatens to upset the delicate conventional military balance in the region and make military action a more attractive proposition for New Delhi.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are each other’s wild cards. Each is the other’s out-of-region game-changer, a factor that must play into the calculations of all other players in the Middle East and South Asia alike. Think you’ve got the complex equation sorted out of Arabs vs. Persians, Sunnis vs. Shi’a, Ba’athists vs. Islamists? Well, if Pakistan decides to throw its weight around the Middle East, you’ll have to re-tabulate your odds. Think you understand the delicate balance between New Delhi, Islamabad, Kabul, and Beijing? Well, Riyadh has long been staking one particular player at this table, and whether it chooses to double down or fold on its investment will affect everyone else’s bets.
May 21, Russia and China concluded ten days of joint naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, which included live-fire drills. Although the militaries of the two countries claimed that the naval exercise was meant only to improve interoperability, their presence in the sea has far broader political implications.
It is spread over 400 acres near Nilore, some 25 kilometers from Islamabad. The neo-Mughal Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, with its serene and splendid isolation and spectacular mountain views, has been compared to the Taj Mahal. But unlike the Indian wonder, it draws no tourists or pilgrims, only physicists and engineers seeking some of the best laboratories the country has to offer.
Last year, Pakistan experienced a wave of leadership transitions. The country welcomed a new government, president, Supreme Court chief justice, and army chief. Yet one of the most troubling changes occurred on the very last day of 2013, and with little fanfare. On December 31, according to Pakistani media reports, Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai logged his last day as head of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), the entity in charge of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.