New Delhi, May 29 : Pakistan's recent testing of Nasr or short range missile,coupled with its growing stockpile of low-intensity nuclear weapons, suggests it is preparing to cross the nuclear threshold in case of a conflict with India, reports Times of India.
One of the most authoritative voices on Pakistans nuclear strength and American nuclear expert Hans Kristensen told TOI that a nuclear-tipped Nasr missile seemed more like a weapon for use against Indian forces advancing into Pakistan.
While the 60-km short range of the nuclear capable missile doesnt threaten the security of any major Indian city,it certainly makes the Indian Army and security forces vulnerable if India tries to implement its Cold Start Doctrine,which entails making deep and precise incursions into Pakistan in the event of another Mumbai-like attack.
With the testing of Nasr or Hatf-9 short range missile, Pakistan clearly seems to be raising the game considering that India will indeed be under pressure to destroy terror camps in Pakistan in the event of another state sponsored terror attack on its soil.
While that would not threaten Indian survival in itself, it would, of course, mean crossing the nuclear threshold early in a conflict, which is one of the particular concerns of a short-range nuclear weapon, said Kristensen, who is also Federation of American Scientists Nuclear Information project director.
A Nasr missile would have to drive all the way up to the Indian border to be able to reach important targets in India.
Amritsar would be one candidate, as would several smaller cities along the border.
But that would also expose the missile to counter attack, Kristensen said as he emphasized that with its range of only 60 kilometres, the multi-tube NASR system is not intended to retaliate against Indian cities but be used first against advancing Indian Army in a battlefield scenario.
Kristensen had earlier described Pakistan's production of Hatf-9 as a worrisome development for South Asia and for efforts to prevent nuclear weapons from being used.
He said it was time for Pakistan to explain how many nuclear weapons,of what kind,and for what purpose are needed for its minimum deterrent.Pakistan announced earlier that Nasr carries nuclear warheads of appropriate yield with high accuracy,shoot-andscoot attributes and that it was developed as a quick response system to add deterrence value to Pakistans nuclear weapons.