tv Pakistans Nuclear Program CSPAN December 15, 2015 2:36am-4:01am EST
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at 8:30, author, historian, and lecturer craig shirley discusses his book "last act: the final years and emerging legacy at ronald reagan." watch authors week starting december 21st. next a discussion on pakistan's nuclear program. topics include a possible nuclear agreement between the u.s. and pakistan and the implications for regional cooperation in south asia. this is hosted by the atlantic council. good afternoon and welcome to the atlantic council. i'm the director of the atlantic council south asia center. it is my pleasure to be here today with my friends and colleagues, toby dalton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the carnegie
endowment for international peace. nonresident senior fellow at the atlantic council southeast center. also a professor at university of tulsa but we wanted to claim full ownership of our fellow. as you all know we are here today to discuss the policy options to address the potential of a grand nuclear bargain with pakistan. earlier this year it was rumored that the obama administration was exploring a nuclear deal with pakistan. for pakistan the deal would essentially be a formal welcome into the nuclear club in the words of a journal us. prior visits by the prime visits to the u.s., followed by army chief of staff sharif, this was the rumor that was floating around. around the same time, toby dalton who is here and michael caaipon entitled a report, "mainstreaming a nuclear normal
pakistan" which i understand was met with a lot of criticism to put it mildly, is that correct, toby? but since then this is an increasing pessimism about the prospects of a deal. last week the house committee on foreign affairs hosed a hearing on this subject. what the congressional hearing made clear was the need for intense scrutiny of a possible deal. the geopolitical landscape in which it would be implemented. the lasting effects of again a normal nuclear pakistan. in the region there are various hurdles to a potential deal, including pakistan's own willingness to gain with the united states. those i believe are present in the panel today and i hope it will make for fascinating and enlightening conversations on they very important subject. without further ado i'd like to open it up to panelists to provide expertise on the issue. toby goes first. sa mere, would you like to follow toby? each of them will have a seven
to ten-minute discussion, then we will engage into a question and answer session. thank you. >> great to be back at the atlantic council. it's a pleasure to share the stage with you and my colleagues here. so it feels like it's a little bit artificial to start this conversation from today when the starting point for my involvement in this issue is several months back and a lot has happened in the intervening period. but for the sake of the discussion, i'll kind of start at the beginning. why should there be a consideration of a nuclear deal with pakistan? and i use that term, nuclear teal, in very vague ways. i think we can be more specific about it as we go along. i think in general there's a sense that because of the evolution of pakistan's nuclear arsenal there's a growing sense of danger.
and that's being felt here and in other capitals. that these growing nuclear dangers are raising the possibility of nuclear terrorism or nuclear war or what have you in the region. so despite the very good work that pakistan has done on nuclear security and the like over the last several years, that its image is starting to change and the perception of danger is also starting to grow. and that it is a threat to peace and security in the region and internationally. and a lot of that derives i think from the recent sort of announcements about having tactical nuclear weapons, the decembering of longer-range systems, the idea of putting nuclear weapons at sea. those kind of developments i think are what is driving this narrative. so this scrutiny has led to some sense of a need to think through what the options are. and frankly the options are not particularly good.
if you think about what leverage exists versus what the incentives are, i would submit that on the leverage side there's very little. and our record in addressing states that already have nuclear weapons with punitive measures doesn't necessarily produce better results. so in this particular instance i'm not sure that there's good leverage to be had. and i think in terms of pakistan's priorities, in speaking with officials there, you get a sense it's pretty comfortable with where it is. it doesn't like the reputational part of this. but it has a sense of security that nuclear weapons have provided. and that there's very little outside pressure to change that. but at the same time, the reputational piece does come into play when it comes to joining the nuclear regime. and in that sense i think if you were to assess pakistan's priorities, first priority is to keep india out of the nuclear
suppliers group as a member. second priority is if india goes in, to make sure pakistan has a way in too. so that actually does create some set of incentives by way of establishing a path to join nuclear regimes. now there's a question about whether it's wise to negotiate on that basis. that's i think the reason that we're here. i'll return to that in a little bit. my sense is that trying to negotiate these things kind of in a vacuum is not going to work. and in part that has to do with the need for there to be a different intern logic in pakistan in order to accommodate these kinds of changes. certainly essentially that as long as there is a military-driven logic for more nuclear weapons, any sorts of measures that pakistan would take would need to take to join this path to the nuclear regime are unlikely. unless there's a change in the military logic. and understanding of nuclear weapons.
there's owns instituti there's obviously institutional politics that come into play. in thinking through this problem we stride to have this discussion in pakistan a year ago. we ask the people, okay, you want to get into the nuclear suppliers group, how are you going to do that? and essentially the answer we heard was, well, we're going to do exactly what india did. which is fine but pakistan is not india and i think there's sort of a cognitive dissonance there that exists. so we thought, well, there's some potential for pakistan to join the regime if it were to take certain steps. but what does the future look like? so we postulated two futures. one projection of the status quo in which the security competition that exists between pakistan and india continues, that the pakistan military continues to think of deterrence in largely relative terms, any time there's a qualitative or quantitative change in india's
nuclear arsenal or conventional military capability that pakistan would need to address that in some way. that leads to a growing arsenal. when we looked at the numbers purely on a fissile production capability, assuming no other constraints, we came up with a figure pakistan could have something like 350 nuclear weapons. again that's just based on fissile material. others have come up with different numbers and we can get into why the numbers are different. at some point you have to question what additional capabilities actually do for deterrence. what's the marginal utility of additional capabilities? an alternative future also exists which is at some point if there's a recognition that nuclear weapons aren't going to continue to deter at 300, 400, whatever the number is, then it becomes possible to think slightly differently about the nuclear capabilities that pakistan has and if pakistan were to decide that it's secure in it capabilities in absolute terms then it opens the
possibility for some constraints. and these kinds of constraints aren't denuclear acceleration. rather it's thinking about what is the optimal number and force posture for pakistan to have, and then what does that do in terms of the -- how the diplomacy potential for pakistan. well, i would suggest that these kinds of questions aren't really well debated in pakistan. what is the optimal number of weapons? what is the right force posture? what you tend to get is a sense that any self-constraint, any constraint imposed from the outside, would somehow compromise national security. without really thinking through what nuclear weapons actually do provide in terms of national security or even other ways of thinking about national security. but the strong feeling that any constraints, any demand for pakistan to compromise, will somehow inhibit its national security. but for the sake of argument, if
the military were to arrive at an understanding of nuclear weapons that was different than its current understanding, that the number of nuclear weapons that it has today is sufficient or some years down the road is sufficient, that it doesn't need to add more. then diplomacy becomes an option and a nuclear deal i think becomes an option. in our report we suggested five things that pakistan could do. these were exemplars, not prescriptions or demands. we suggested that changes in its declaratory policy would be useful. that somehow formalizing its recessed nuclear posture and thinking about both numerical and geographic constraints on tactical nuclear weapons would be a useful signal. that coming up with limits on fissile material production given the concerns about the growth potential and its arsenal would also be useful. and that think about signing the ctbt before india. with the understanding that if
india were to december, that pakistan would be able to exercise its supreme national interests clause and leave the treaty. sit wise to see this passed? i think that really depends on what your assessment of priorities is. whether you think terrorism is a more important priority or other priorities. depends on your assessment of alternatives and whether we have other measures available to address this sense of concern about the direction and magnitude of pakistan's nuclear weapons program. is the status quo better or sit worse than trying to negotiate some sort of deal? what is the impact to the nonproliferation regime from trying to negotiate a deal? what would the impact be on the u.s./india strategic relationship? i think there's a lot of important questions that are inherent in this issue that haven't really been adequately addressed and deserve further discussion. of course, focusing just on pakistan is also a little bit
artificial. and a lot of the criticism that we received is that we didn't address the india side of this question. we didn't call it a normal nuclear india, we called it a normal nuclear pakistan. even so i think you do have to recognize that because the pathway for pakistan also depends in some measure on india's minute in the nsg, you have to look at these things together. if there's an open door for india but a closed door for pakistan, that essentially limits our policy options. so for me, there is wisdom in thinking about a bargain. both here and in south asia. so i look forward to more discussion about it. >> thank you. >> so i'll try to pick up where toby left off. i wasn't one of the coauthors on this report. but i read it, saw the merits in it, and thought about some arguments as to why this would be beneficial for the united states potentially, potentially for india as well. i think sort of the critical one in this mix is that if a nuclear
deal or a nuclear agreement where pakistan sort of took the steps toby and michael recommend, if that occurred, there would be a significant reduction or potential significant reduction in crisis escalation, in nuclear escalation. so if this involved restricting or limiting the production and deployment of pakistan's tactical nuclear weapons, it could reduce some of the gravest dangers of crisis escalation that might stem from a cross-border attack, from misattribution of an attack, or simple escalation on the line of control firing which happens on a routine basis between india and pakistan. so recessed posture might mitigate any first strike incentives from pakistan during is time and potentially strengthen crisis stability. i think some of the greatest crisis escalation risks that we see in a future scenario with pakistan come from come mized command and control in the fog of crisis, miscalculation or unauthorized launch, theft, capture of a mobile platform with a functioning nuclear
weapon. those those are all risks exacerbated by fact call nuclear weapons being deployed in the field and operational. if there was a way to constrain that or offer incentives for pakistan to restrict that operationalization there would be benefits for all parties involved for any parties that care about nuclear escalation or are concerned about it. india, united states, planks of the idea of the so -- it was not quite a deal per se, but things that pakistan could do that would signal steps towards nuclear restraint in order to be part of the -- become more normalized sort of nuclear state, some of the ideas of assigning ctbt fissile material cut-off treaty, separation of civil military and nuclear programs are not things that would be harmful. it certainly would reduce pressures on nuclear competition
which in the long run is probably good for india. ultimately their objective is become a great power and that relies on sort of continued sustained economic growth and development. and that will be benefitted in not having to be engaged in a nuclear competition with pakistan. i think another sort of positive step that can come out of this is it can show a path for pakistan out of isolation or potential perceptions of isolation. it can empower moderates that counter narratives that exist in pakistan that they're boxed in without potential partners. the idea of containment has been floated, but for pakistan to take more provocative actions, either to gain leverage or pull people to the table, those are counterproductive for stability and in the region. as toby alluded to, i think there's also some value in proposing this idea because it forces debate on nuclear sufficiency, how much does pakistan need, what are the
mission sets, what are the objectives, and the tradeoffs that are involved in that sort of process. if there ultimately is some sort of calculation that nuclear weapons are an effective substitute for conventional forces in order to have some economic benefit, and there's some who argue this, then there's going to be a question about what is the sufficiency of the nuclear program that pakistan has when it does start impinging on the debate as well. the discussion of a nuclear deal sparks it because it allows pakistan to weigh the range of its requirement for national security. i think the iran deal that was signed this summer, there's a lot of references to it by critics of this idea who say that that's not really an appropriate model, the iran deal is completely different, it stopped iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, in this case
that can't be offered to pakistan. pakistan is not going to roll back its nuclear program. but the point was the iranian nuclear program, the reason we werele willing to entertain this deal is because it would have a effect on stability within the middle east. the impact on strategic stability vis-à-vis israel, potential domino effects with other countries in the middle east, and restrictions on u.s. operational freedom. it's the strategic effects of it that were the greatest concern. the idea behind this is there would be a similar logic, that if this deal could forestall or persuade pakistan to have restrexs on its tactical employment or other long range capabilities that would have a dramatic effect on stability in the region, it might be worth prioritizing above other concerns about support for nonviolent state
actors. there are two concerns i've heard raised against the idea of this. the first is that it rewards a quest for parity with india. and the second is it could potentially set back india-u.s. relations. so in terms of the deal, it would potentially negate any quest for material parity because it would ask pakistan to send certainly costly signals that would be restraints in advance, such as signing ctbt or restraining the tactical nuclear weapons deployment. so those wouldn't really be advancing material parity. what it would do is probably trade some degree of prestige, allowing it to be part of the club, the same nuclear club as india. and of course india is not particularly happy about this. this wouldn't have any sort of significant increase in the material balance of power in the region. and there's no reason to expect that sort of a marginal increase in prestige for pakistan would have a major strategic effect. in terms of the relations
with -- india-u.s. relations down the road, i think the united states has proved itself quite d. deft and capable of managing relationships with rival states. we did this with greece and turkey in nato. we've done this with japan and south korea, post-world-war-ii, and having a strategic dialogue as well. it's possible to maintain a good relationship with a state even if they're rivals at some level. it's worth considering the debate. >> well, without necessarily disagreeing with the logic of what toby and samir have had to say, i'm going to take a slightly contrary position. the reason is that i agree with
the logic of what they're saying, but i think what a lot of observers fail to take into account and the fundamental grand strategy of the pakistani state. i don't think the pakistan nuclear weapons program can be addressed without persuading pakistan to take a step back from its grand strategy that it has followed over the last 30 years. the idea of a nuclear deal with pakistan where pakistan is accommodated into the family of nuclear nations has been in the air since roughly 2010. at least, on the u.s. side, at that would entail pakistan accept some sort of a,
of a positive movement on nuclear arms control treaties such as the fissile material cutoff treaty, the comprehensive test ban treaty, accept certain curbs in its nuclear weapons program in return for a nuclear rapprochement with the united states, and also accommodation with the nuclear supplies group which led to restrictions on nuclear trade with pakistan. in the past year there had been rumors that the obama administration has turned its attention to pakistan after negotiating, successfully negotiating the nuclear deal with iran. now, pakistan wants a deal similar to the one that the u.s. struck with india in 2005, where the u.s. in essence gave india's nuclear weapons program a free pass. pab stan wants the equivalent. pakistan is not interested in making positive movements off the fissile materials treaty. arguing that it should get the same assurance that india did. from washington's perspective, within the beltway and outside the administration, the three greatest issues were the rapidly expanding size of the pakistani nuclear weapons program, the scope and ambition of the pakistani nuclear weapons
program, as well as the potential danger of an implosion within pakistan, a political implosion, or a partial breakdown of the state that could in the future create a potential nuclear terrorism incident. from washington's point of view, if pakistan must make progress in treaties and norms to reach a fush bar gar -- nuclear bargain with the united states, the carnegie document and the stimson center that published a report earlier this year reiterate these points in considerable detail. now, this approach is very sensible. but it misses the fundamental point that there is an underlying linkage between pakistan's grand strategy and its nuclear trajectory. the u.s. struck a nuclear deal
with india simply because after the potential size of india's nuclear market and also because india is a potential balancer to china in the asia-pacific region. a lot of people miss that the nuclear deal was made possible because india is a normal power, by that i mean india accepts the international status quo. yes, india has great power aspirations, but it is is considered both legitimate and acceptable in the international system. by contrast, pakistan is a revisionist power. pakistan is revisionist because it seeks to overthrow the status quo with the use of force. and the instruments it deploys are not state actors. there is a linkage between pakistani revisionism and the threats to stability.
during the past 30 years pakistan has used it's arsenal to shield itself from the effects of an asymmetric war with india. and pakistan's instruments for their asymmetric war with india, india's response to pakistan's nuclear weapons program does enable a symmetric war fare. faced with a theoretical prospect of a defeat on the conventional battlefield, pakistan has adopted full spectrum deterrence strategy that will allow it to deal with india on every running of the nuclear ladder. hence the idea of a more modest defensive strategy absent fundamental revisions i would argue is a fool's mission. my argument is that they are wasting our time asking pakistan to accept radical changes in its nuclear strategy and implement
armed treaties and norms to become a normal state and give up its policy of delegating goals to radical islamists and non-state actors. if pakistan were to return to being a status-seeking state, india would threaten it with a conventional war. tensions between the two would then create positive incentives for pakistan to switch from full spectrum deterrence to limited strategic deterrence strategy. as a thought exercise, let us assume for example, just for argument's sake, that we succeed in persuading pakistan to accept curbs on nuclear weapons and succeed in persuading pakistan to give up full spectrum deterrent strategy in favor of a limited strategic deterrence
strategy. but this happens absent any changes in pakistan's grand strategy. in this scenario pakistan would be vulnerable to jihadi blowback effects and remain vulnerable to an implosion politically. you one argument that i hear is that we should adopt is flawed. one, iran was ambivalent to its nuclear weapons. this opened the door for negotiations. but there is little ambivalence on the pursuit of full spectrum deterrence. second, in iran there was never any cause of linkage between pakistan's support of terrorism and pursuit of nuclear weapons. nuclear it makes sense for us to negotiate with iran and its support for terrorism abroad, i don't think the state approach is valid for pakistan. in the case of pakistan we must take up the nettle some task of pakistani revisionism as part of any grand nuclear deal. to conclude, let me take a step back and put this in perspective. in pakistan's case, nuclear weapons are the keystone in its asymmetric and revisionistist grand strategy. hence, it makes sense in the
iranian state and support for terrorism abroad, i don't think the approach is valid for pakistan. in the case of pakistan, we must take up apples and halves. let me take a step back. the goal of american grand strategy since world war ii has been to promote democracy, market capitalism and restrain the growth of terrorism. any deal with pakistan that treats its symptoms of disease and not the disease itself. in india's case, we made an exception by down-playing non-proliferation treaties and norms. in pakistan's case we should tackle the broader issue of pakistani revisionism. no normlizing the pakistani state
has the best downstream chance of normalizing pakistan's nuclear trajectory. thank you. >> thank you. i'm going to take a slightly different approach and invite questions from the audience before i jump into my own questions. >> my question is that this is a timely meeting because recently india and pakistan were at the highest level in islamabad and pakistan relations but at the same time after a few days, india was told by terrorists in pakistan that they will destroy india. so what message do you think india should get one official statement sometime including defense minister of pakistan that if needed, including of course they will use the nuclear weapons against india. what will the future of india and pakistan relations and also
do you believe there is a nuclear race in the region? thank you. >> is the question to the panel? >> he was looking at you. >> oh. so let me ask you -- let me answer the second question first. i don't think there is a nuclear race in the region because india is pursuing its nuclear trajectory at its own pace. it is pakistan that has really accelerated the development of nuclear arsenal over twice the speed that the indians are. the indians have a series of objectives and are looking largely at china. they think they have sufficient deterrence against pakistan. i think if pakistan there is greater paranoia. they've accelerated the program and by most accounts have a greater number of nuclear weapons than india, and most believe that in the operational aspects of the pakistan's arsenal is far ahead of india's.
so -- but the race implies there is this interactive dynamic. i don't see that happening. beyond that, i think relations are pessimistic. i do not see the prospects of -- it's like an ugly stability, and that will likely persist for some time to come. >> on the arms race question, i agree in the sense that there aren't interactive effects. but there are, at least in a sort of tit for tat way, but i think you do see in the broader security equation, you know, pakistan reacting to things that india is doing. so tactical nuclear weapons are ostensibly a reaction to cold start. cruise missiles are ostensibly
something that they are developing anyway. but have a logic if india were to develop a missile defense. i think you see maybe more on the pakistani side, reaction to statements, rumors, et cetera in india. in india you don't see the same i think kind of drivers. they tend to be a little bit different. arms race has sort of a specific meaning, and i think it's not an arms race, but there are security dynamics that do drive the competition in certain ways. >> i would agree with toby on that count. if you're taking arms race in terms of an interactive dynamic between the two powers, i don't think that's happening. in pakistan there is this greater sense of threat and the greater sense of i would call it paranoia. and they are developing their arsenal at a very fast clip. in india there is a lot of bluster and actually a lot of it comes from the scientific
agencies, which made a lot of statements, have a lot of r&d programs that don't translate into operational systems. but in pakistan it is often programs that will be operationalized and the responses. >> this raises an interesting point. our assumptions about pakistan and india are quite different in this regard. we give a lot of credibility when pakistan tests a system. whereas, there is greater skepticism that that will happen with india. in this sense the rhetoric around pakistan that it's the fastest growing nuclear arsenal, in a sense pakistan is the victim of its own success. >> there's a reason for that, why we don't take india seriously. oh, sorry. >> i was going to say it doesn't have to be about missile
buildups and fissile material buildups. there are ways arms races can escalate. if we're saying that pakistan is reacting to some indian capability of rapid reaction, sort of on multiple fronts, whether we want to call it cold start or something else, that can be part of the reaction cycle. or there's a lot of talk these days of developing special forces capabilities. if that becomes a possibility that's able to sort of subvert pakistan's deterrence as they see it which then can sort of lead to counterreactions. in that sense there's reaction on both sides. >> could we broaden the discussion just a little bit to talk about india, pakistan, in terms of potential strategic nuclear discussions, disarmament reductions, confidence-building measures?
and i realize that track two has been doing a lot of this, the balusa group has been at this for years without success. i know the answer to my question may be nothing, but what do you think it would take to induce both india and pakistan to sit down and begin discussions about being sensible over the nuclear issues to put in place confidence-building measures and other things that would alleviate a crisis in the event that a new mumbai takes place, something happens in kashmir, and now you have pakistan with nuclear weapons? >> my sense is that there are several prerequisites. one is political leadership on both sides that has the wherewithal, the credentials, the support from the submittal
establishment, particularly in the case of pakistan, to be able to have that kind of dialoguing. that hasn't arguably existed in 1999, but hasn't since then. there would have been a number of working level discussions over the years about confidence-building measures, but mostly they have been how to implement things that were agreed in the past, and there are a number of obvious things that could be added. for instance there is a notification regime about conducting ballistic missile tests. it's been, you know, patently obvious that adding cruise missiles to that is very good. there is an agreement to provide every year a list of nuclear facilities, an agreement not to attack those facilities. adding to that an agreement not to use cyber means not to attack facilities, that would be good. there's obvious incremental steps, but the big thing that
would get you from confidence-building measures to a broader restraint regime is political will. partly that's will and an ability to take and accept risk, just very difficult in both systems to do that. >> looking back at the case of the u.s. and the ussr during the code war, i think serious arms control really happened towards the end of the 1960s when both countries reached a certain plateau. there was a certain maturity in the development of the arsenal, it reached a maturation point. i would like to think in one sense that india and pakistan are still in the process of arriving there. and they have not had a kind of a cuban missile crisis that has concentrated the minds on the potential of a nuclear conflict. it's all in theory yet. that would be a catalytic
condition that might concentrate their minds. there's the famous saying, nothing concentrates the mind of an individual than the prospect of being hanged in the morning. i know it sounds rather ominous, but they haven't had the kind of a cuban missile crisis that concentrated their minds. and i don't think the arsenals have reached the point of maturity that both sides haven't stopped talking about what sufficiency peens and how they might stabilize that competition. >> do you think there's a point, given your assertion about pakistan's grand strategy, is there a point that there would be a sufficiency? >> i hope so. in the report for example they actually laid out the economics of what pakistan is doing. and i would hope that at some point that structural -- you know, i would hope it hits home. i'm skeptical, but i still hope so. >> i wonder if -- just one other point. i wonder if it's not so much the strategic level -- at the
strategic level that there has to be break through, but there needs to be some assessment that that's no longer a viable means of conflict. maybe that's not -- maybe that amounts to a change in grand strategy, i don't know. or maybe it's just an assessment that there's no deterrence operating at some level there. but that might create the means for different kinds of confidence building that then could translate into strategic arms control. >> we'll come back to that. >> okay. i'll just add that i think his point is well-taken, particularly when you talk to indians about sort of the relative priority of threats. the focus is still on sort of -- and maybe this is sort of like a signaling device to u.s. interlocutors. they constantly emphasize the terrorism issue above nuclear risks.
the big risk out of sort of the terrorism scenario that provokes some sort of crisis and mobilization towards a border is the nuclear escalation scenario. they're pretty dismissive about that risk, that somehow things will be controlled, somehow things will be contained and managed, and they won't illuminate why they think that is the case. they're much more sanguine about control of those escalation risks. maybe it does sort of require some sort of crisis to then focus the minds on thinking through, you know, clear signals and clear red lines. >> thank you. ashih shen with the atlantic council. this is for the panel. >> could you speak into the mic? we can't hear you. >> can you hear me? so i wanted to ask you, what in fact is pakistan's nuclear relationship with china have on
u.s. leverage with pakistan? and do you see a role for china to change pakistan's strategy? thank you. >> i actually want to couple that question with one of my own questions. and this is directly to toby, and samir can feel free to comment if you want. when i read your report i saw you had listed a whole range of challenges associated with striking a deal with pakistan. and you have pointed out that pakistan's nuclear commerce is also less incentivized. and in the report you also point out that the pakistani position has hardened since the evidence that you've gathered suggests that pakistanis feel compelled to compete against india. so -- and coupling that, chinese, that they have the healthy cooperation of the chinese. in this context, would would
-- why would you think pakistan would subject itself to this sort of deal? >> it depends on what you mean by the deal. >> the grand nuclear bargain. >> sure. the commercial piece first, i think it's absolutely the case that pakistan's nuclear energy requirements as it defines them are being met by china, largely by way of ignoring the rules and the nuclear suppliers group. it's hard to imagine a circumstance where there was a nuclear deal that would change that in some way. i think that set of incentives that had existed in india, although i take the point that that was only part of the rationale for that deal, that essentially doesn't exist. it's hard to imagine a vendor other than chinese vendors that would have the sort of state backing and tolerance to invest in pakistan. nuclear reactors are expensive, and pakistan is short on capital. most wouldn't want to assume the liability of a large
infrastructure project. the chinese seem to be able to do that. the net result of that is that not only because pakistan is not a very good nuclear market and because china is essentially satisfying that nuclear market and would under any circumstance, there's not a lot of incentive there for others to argue for a nuclear deal because of that. but your other question about whether china might have some leverage i think that is an interesting one. and, you know, there's a history of chinese involvement in the pakistani nuclear weapons program. it's been written about. there are very strong beliefs in india that that cooperation continues, that the pakistani tactical nuclear weapons are essentially a product of chinese cooperation. i don't know whether that's true or not. if that were true, it would be a violation of the nonproliferation treaty. and so i suspect that if there's truth in it, it's not as
expansive as the indian claims are. but it may very well be the case that china and pakistan are collaborating on missile guidance, other sorts of things, who knows? i'm sure there's evidence there, i'm just not aware of it. and so that kind of raises a question about whether china would have incentive, given that it's aided pakistan's nuclear weapons program in the past, ostensibly or presumably for reasons having to do with balancing india in some way, why would it seek to restrain pakistan in some way? i think the answer there is, if it becomes apparent that what is happening in pakistan has some potential to damage chinese interests as well. whether they're economic interests in pakistan, whether it's the potential that terrorists trained in pakistan carry out some attacks in china for which there's some evidence that the chinese have pressured the pakistani government in the past, you know, you can see a
logic there where chinese perceptions of this problem might start to change. it's not clear to me that there has been an event yet that would precipitate that. but you could imagine that there could be. maybe in the future it's possible that china might be a source of leverage. but at this point it seems to take the opposite approach, which is to essentially ignore what's happening with the pakistani nuclear weapons program and continue to focus on large infrastructure projects like the china/pakistan economic corridor and the like, and not use that in any sort of leverage terms. similarly, if you draw a parallel to the china/north korea relationship, i think you see there a pattern of behavior that would suggest caution in thinking that china might be willing to use leverage over one of its neighbors and partners in the future. >> can i just add a little to that? so i quite agree with toby. >> we're supposed to do to be
opposing here, by the way. >> everything china has done so far has contributed to the autonomy of the pakistani program. and so, you know, i really don't see that happening in the immediate future, except -- i'm just thinking of scenarios. one scenario could be, you know, what toby pointed out, that pakistan could become unstable and there is a prospect of a partial state failure and the chinese might be concerned there might be stillover effects and a nuclear incident. that's one scenario. another is china decides that it needs to acknowledge the indian program openly, and comes to some sort of agreement with the indians. that might open the door for some sort of triangular, you know, stabilizing the competition between the three. >> there's also a possibility, i mean, china may have played sort of a negative contributory role in the past, and even potentially in the present.
there's also the potential for these things to change over time. so we know that for a long time china was silent about pakistan's dahlians with violent non-state actors. apparently there were one of the pressure points for the operation when then sort of precipitated a whole bunch of other counterterrorist operations. there's a lot of suggestions that they might have had some pressure on the pakistani government for zarbi azaf as well. it's possible that they can maybe play that leverage role that the u.s. lacks. i would add to that, they are investing a significant stake in the pakistani landmass with substantial number of workers that are going to be deployed into this massive set of construction projects. so they are more at risk in future escalation scenarios than they have ever been, which probably gives them a stake in escalation control more so than they've ever been.
>> you know, the nuclear suppliers group operates by consensus. and so if india is going to join, it will have to be with chinese support. and the chinese government has been fairly quiet on this subject, at least publicly. but there was one statement from the foreign ministry, i think in the spring, that was actually about pakistani membership, not indian membership. but the reply that came back was there essentially needed to be a way to handle the question of non-mpt state membership in an equitable way, which suggests to me that, you know, i don't know what the extent of pakistan/chinese conversations on this issue has been, but that china will protect pakistan's interests in that regard and try to keep the door open in some way. so it's important that we think about chinese interests and what it can and can't do on this question, recognizing that our interests, the stated u.s. interests in having india in the
usg may run up against china's interests. >> so a question for the panel. so if this pileup in the growth of the nuclear arsenal is driven by its sense of insecurity within the establishment, what could the united states do to reduce that sense of insecurity that might lead to a change in behavior? >> i mean, that's a tough one. i mean, if i were to be provocative, i mean, i would almost say that pakistan's sense of insecurity is pathological. and i just think that its military is operating on its own belief systems that are not shared outside. so i really don't know what the united states can do. all the u.s. can do is supply high tech conventional weapons, which it tried through the 1980s.
even today, if you look, actually, there have been some very interesting -- there's been a very interesting study that came out last year that looked at the conventional balance between india and pakistan. and the gap at least in the immediate short term has actually narrowed, and pakistan can do a how much better job defending itself against india than most people like to imagine. but if there was this paranoia, and if it's driven by this pathological belief in pakistani insecurity, i don't see what the united states could really do, unless the united states threw its weight behind trying to change pakistani grand strategy. because unless pakistan were to give up that whole role of seeking revisionism and changing the status quo, it will not be a satiated power. if you're not a satiated power, you're constantly going to feel under threat. you're provoking a crisis that feeds into your threat and it's an endless cycle. >> so i think a lot of this
depends on sort of how you categorize pakistan as a state. we use the dichotomy of revisionism versus status quo power, but there are gradations in between. iran was a n a revisionist powe in 1979. there are gradations of change and learning that states can adapt to international sort of relation structures, stimuli. so i think, one, it's feasible to sort of imagine scenarios in the future, where the revisionism can decline over time. if we thought about sort of what pakistan identifies as its core security threats, it's based on sort of a territorial dispute with india where there's large numbers of forces concentrated. one of the paths out of this may not be ripe for solution right now, but it one of the paths out of though
down the road is renewed dialogue that eventually tried to resolve some of the territorial disputes that have large military forces involved that are ultimately threatening each other. that at least can be a confidence database building mention that can unwind 50 revisionist narratives that are contribute to go the pakistani state. >> i would also i guess, for the sake of argument, challenge the sort of black and white revisionism. i think the idea that pakistani grand strategy is immutable is not a correct one. i think there's a fair amount of evidence at this point that should cause us to question, you know, this commitment to -- some have called it jihad under the nuclear umbrella, whether it's the current operation or what we've seen happen with lashki junjee. much is made in pakistan of the
fact that there hasn't been another may josh attack in india since mumbai. there is some desire to assert, you know, both positive and negative control over groups that in the past have been targeting in india. i think there's some evidence that should cause us to question that assumption. but i would also i guess challenge your assumption that somehow addressing pakistan's insecurity is the key to nuclear constraints. and i guess what we laid out is, a lot of this comes back to what you believe about nuclear weapons. and if you have this absolute faith in nuclear weapons, then no amount of security is going to change that, and no amount of insecurity is going to change that. but if you start to question what nuclear weapons do and don't do and what they could and could not deter and how many of them and how they're postured, then you can maybe still -- you know, there may not be a need to address the sources of insecurity. and i think what we had suggested in our report was
that, you know, the faith in pakistan, that tactical nuclear weapons are going to deter conflict at a very low level may not be correct. and that's kind of a dangerous assumption. you know, india did not do cold start after mumbai. that may or may not have had something to do with pakistani nuclear weapons. they didn't have tactical nuclear weapons at that point in time. so i think there's reasons to question how much -- how many nuclear weapons are sufficient. and i would hope that that conversation is happening inside pakistan. the problem is that whereas in many states there's, you know, shared responsibility for nuclear weapons that allows for some discussion and debate about the size of the arsenal and the force posture and readiness and these kinds of things, in pakistan that -- sort of those external stimuli don't really exist. these conversations happen solely within the military.
there's no real -- there's civilians that are involved in the national command authority, but let's be realistic, most of the requirements are going to be set by the military and the decisions are going to be made by the military. in that sense there's not this feedback loop that would challenge very strongly held beliefs about deterrence. but there were strongly held beliefs about militants too, and you start to see some reprioritization to focus on internal threats. thinking can change as evidence challenges some of the assumptions. >> so, you know, i want to address the points that samir and toby raised. they're correct that there is variation. you cannot treat revisionism and status quo power as a dichotomy. even revisionist states do change over a period of time and
there are various grades of revisionism. one of the things the united states could do, let us some for a moment that we accept pakistani revisionism, pakistan has a legitimate grievance in its territorial dispute with india, but i think the united states could try and persuade pakistan to adopt different means to pursue that revisionism. in other words, give up its -- you know, the support of nonstate actors. there has been some thinking, we haven't had another mumbai since 2008. we don't know whether that's a retreat. or a long-term compromise for the time being. even if pakistan would stick with its revisionism but give up its strategy to pursue that revisionism, that would have a cooling effect on the region, which would then open the door for the united states to try and persuade the indians to kind of abandon their adoption, to
threaten pakistan with a conflict, which would then create incentives for pakistan to retreat from tactical nuclear weapons. so that might be a way out. >> dan horner from "arms control today." two questions, both coming from points that toby made initially, so i'll direct it to toby first. given that it's not, as you described it, an interactive arms race, what response by india would expect if pakistan took the steps that you recommend in your report? and secondly, on the point about the nsg, you cited this interesting comment from china about the requirements. and it seemed at the time of prime minister sharif's visit to the united states, that there was denial that there was consideration of an exception for india. it seemed to leave the door open
to so-called criteria-based approach. do you think that's possibly in the cards? what do you think about that? thanks. >> so the second piece was about criteria and whether it was a criteria-based approach that might open for nsg. you know, let me start with that. i think that that's an interesting -- personally i support the idea of criteria because i think from a nonproliferation regime point of view, having even criteria for india and pakistan is better. india could probably meet most of the criteria that could be agreed before pakistan could. but as a matter of process, i think having criteria versus exception is better. the problem there is that india has a view of its exceptionalism just as there is american exceptionalism, there is indian exceptionalism.
and the idea of criteria kind of runs up against that. and so i think that's a real challenge for the obama administration's approach so far. at this point, i don't think the idea of there being an exception for pakistan is really what was on the table. my sense of what was on the table was you know, support for the idea that pakistan could be on a path to joining the nsg, but in order to even be on the path, you know, there needed to be steps to get to the first step, essentially. so pre-steps, if you will. i think that's -- my sense of what the conversation was about. at this point it doesn't seem like pre-steps are in the cards. there's steps backwards, if anything, just to extend the analogy. what was your first question again? sorry. right.
you know, i would love it in the indians were to say, wow, this is fantastic, our security is much better for having done this, thank you very much. but in fact when samir and i were in india some weeks ago, we heard a lot of complaints that we would even dare to consider that somehow pakistan with nuclear weapons could be legitimate and that these kinds of steps in some way might actually improve india's security. and how dare we reassert some sort of equivalence between pakistan and india on these questions. which, you know, on some level isn't surprising but it also suggests that for all the indian professions that status is not what they're really after here, the idea that pakistan could have a similar status suggests that india is involved with status. i mean, i think the steps that we suggested, there are questions about how feasible those are. and i think their acceptability in pakistan is pretty low.
in india they were missed as insufficient. that's been the response. >> walk us through your experiences in pakistan. >> sure. so in pakistan, there was a lot of interest in the title of the report, especially the "normal nuclear pakistan" part. but everything after page 1, we were criticized for that. it was suggested we were somehow advancing india's interests, that all of the steps that we had suggested would compromise pakistan's national security, that our assessments of fissile material production were off, that we were completely discounting india's nuclear program, et cetera, et cetera. >> marvin birnbaum, the liss institute.
during the cold wear, in the united states, and in russia as well, the soviet union, there was a fear of what the consequence of nuclear war might bring. my sense is, knowing pakistan perhaps a little better than india, that that's lacking, that there's no willingness, whether it's in civil defense preparations, where, you know, we thought a lot about this, you don't see anything, not that one can build bomb shelters given the kinds of weapons, but you don't get that feeling. and i wonder how much that plays into the inability of both sides to perhaps evaluate this nuclear competition.
and at the same time, what is the sense in both countries, because i've never seen this, the answers may be very obvious, a feeling here about adequate second strike capability. because certainly that -- in m.a.d. that ultimately was what the ultimate neutralizer was. it wasn't numbers, but just that neither side could expect to emerge here with very much left. so if you could explore this. >> specifically cold war was mentioned, my question is specifically, the united states and the former soviet union negotiated the strategic arms limitation treaty at the heart of the cold war and still the ussr was a revisionist power. so what are the differences you
see in applying the same logic between u.s. and pakistan? >> i'm going to start with his question and come to yours, if that's okay. i mean, okay, so that's a great question. yes, the u.s. and the ussr, there was the detente between the two superpowers, but let's not forget that the detente collapsed. and we had revival of the nuclear arms race until the soviet union collapsed. arms control really did not take off. it took off and then hit an stasis and then broke down and then ultimately collapsed. to get to marvin's question, at least on the indian side, there is a psychological disbelief that nuclear weapons are instruments of war. it's more -- so it's more that
these are psychological props in one sense, that forces the psyche of the elite in a crisis or, you know, builds up or supports your backbone or helps you develop a backbone to put up with nuclear coercion. there is not much belief that these weapons could ever be used. and which is kind of ironical, because here you are, building up operational capabilities on the ground, but at the same time at the political level, i don't think the political leaders recognize or accept the fact or has brought itself to countenance the idea of actually using these nuclear weapons. both sides are pursuing second
strike weapons. on the indian side, they've tried to build up a sea-based arsenal, which is the gold standard in a sense. on the pakistan side, from a purely military perspective, they've done a pretty good job of building up a mobile ballistic missile strike force. i'm just thinking in terms of second strike, they might be thinking in terms of third strikes, which is, you know, toby, you talk about this in your report, where you have long range missiles that can strike any part of india and beyond, which you can only make sense of it if theoretically you've gone thinking in terms of protracted nuclear exchange with a much more powerful nuclear power, which actually india is not, but it potentially might be. but yes, they are thinking of second strike capabilities, very much so. >> i'll just pick up on a thread that you put out there, marvin.
so i think you're right, that we have civil defense preparations inherently by having procedures for like duck and cover, going in bomb shelters, something like that, you engage the public in sort of what will be the consequence of the actual nuclear exchange. and it doesn't appear that there has been anything like that, probably because there are much higher priorities of what you do with social spending than build bomb shelters. but i think it's an important point, because oftentimes you hear a lot of strategic leaders invoke the public in their discussions and say, our hands are tied because if we were willing to back down on our position, we would be lynched. i feel like that term "lynched" is used liberally in south asia about what the public will or will not allow. but i don't think the public has
engaged in this debate other than at a very surface level. it's possible that the public has hard line views on nuclear weapons, but i think if we were to sort push a little bit in terms of what scenarios might be involved, we might see evidence for a nuclear taboo or the costs of this. that's an another area of potential engagement, maybe it's a civil society type of engagement that's required. but it certainly is invoked. and i don't see any evidence of it actually happening in the public. [ inaudible ] >> true. >> just to add a couple of things to that, i think the rise of discussions of consequences were either just slightly behind or in parallel with thinking about what it would actually take to fight a nuclear war, at least the american thinking. the soviet thinking, i don't know. but you saw arguments about fighting a nuclear war and the kind of commitment that would be required, to include civic
defenses and ballistic missile defense and these kind of things. i think in india the political sentiment around nuclear weapons hasn't really allowed for that kind of discussion. pakistan is an interest case. on the one hand, you have this faith in deterrence and the faith that nuclear weapons will deter even very low level conflict, which is interesting. and yet you have pretty regular political statements about the use of nuclear weapons, which there's a dissonance there, and i don't quite understand it. and i think you also see, and for me the shaheen 3 is kind of the evidence of this over and above tactical nuclear weapons, thinking about using nuclear weapons in counterforce roles. that leads you down the role of thinking about nuclear war fighting, notwithstanding the protestations that these are weapons of peace and meant to deter conflict and so forth. i think you see the strains of military logic that push you
down this road. but you're right, there is no civil society that asks or could engage the questions about what are the consequences of fighting a nuclear war. and that is really what's lacking. and i think there's been some suggestions i've heard that, you know, the united states or others ought to try to engage that question in some way in south asia to, you know, make clear the scare that we had in the cuban missile crisis or so forth and, you know, finding ways of using the media to do that and so forth. and it's -- i think it has to come from south asia. it can't come externally. it has to be an idea that is specific to the way nuclear weapons are understood there and the fears that people have. you know, maybe it will take a cuban missile crisis or something like that to actually spur that. you don't -- where are the bollywood movies about nuclear weapons and so forth?
>> i want to add one point. i'm just speculating over here, but india and pakistan haven't had the experience of europe and the united states, russia, of the first and second world wars where you had millions dead, and it was a very real possibility in one sense. it was deeply embedded in the psyche that this can happen. but so i'm just speculating. so it's all theoretical. i mean, the wars that have occurred have been short affairs. and compared to what happened in europe over the last century, they haven't had that kind of mass scale conflict. and so maybe -- >> there's an actually one piece of this too, which is that our ideas about what constitute unacceptable damage came from the second world war, whereas the idea of unacceptable damage in south asia is very low. [ inaudible question ]
>> if that should happen, i would imagine we would see a crisis, humanitarian crisis at a level that really we've never experienced before. we could see millions of casualties, deaths. and the implications for the international community and its preparedness to then be able to step in to something which would have -- go on for months and even years. >> i just hope we don't get there. we'll restrict ourselves to the bollywood movies. >> but unless people talk about it, i don't think it registers. >> well, can i -- sorry. quickly, this is just from my conversations with various
senior commanders in india's strategic forces command. one of the interesting things that comes out is they're so terrified of the social chaos that emerges from the slightest whiff of normality, i don't think there's -- i think there's disbelief that even if they took certain actions, it would be possible to do anything. maybe they don't -- you know, i'm speculating here again. but that's what comes out in private conversation. >> thank you. i'm pauline nyack, an independent consultant on south asia issues for a long time. i wanted to raise the question of command and control, and the -- what i perceive to be largely the absence of
discussions of how, if you take out the other side's command and control, you may actually unleash worse results, and how this isn't just a cyber issue, this has a great deal to do with the physical distribution of not just weapons but leaders as well, and the continuity of government arrangements for senior decisionmakers, their ability to communicate with people in the field. so that whole issue seems to me to be another way in which at least in the public domain, there's very little speculation, discussion, imagination. but i would like to hear your comments. >> who wants to go first? >> it's related. you know, it sort of piggybacks on the conversation we just had about nuclear war fighting. so i think the pakistanis are
aware of the fact that they are going to be at a significant disadvantage when it comes to isr capabilities. and the other part of isr capabilities is they're not as observable as cruise missile tests and things like that. isr has the potential to enhance a first strike. it has the potential to make a first strike possible. it's something that we were pursuing during the cold wear. there is some interesting research that's been done on this recently. it's put out the case that we had the ability or thought we had some ability for this because we were tracking soviet subs and mobile missiles and had sufficient isr capabilities and sources that we were able to maybe think about contemplating this idea. and because it's not observable, it's possible that pakistan
has a deep and abiding fear. and they have to weigh this in the future. and the other part of the capabilities they're not observable as missile tests or fissile material, things like that. it has potential to enhance for a strike. it's something we're pursuing during cold war. it's put out the case we have ability we thought we had some ability for this because we were tracking soviet subs and mobile missiles and sufficient isr capabilities and sources we were able to maybe think about, contemplate. because it's not observable it's possible pakistan has a deep and abiding fear. they have -- they have to weigh potential in the future. it's more modernized and has built-in capabilities in civil society. so i think they could be much more concerned about the command and control issue faster than the indians would to fully up to installation. >> on the inside, i think in the strategic forces command that handles operation side of the arsenal and now also within the prime minister's office they have strategic planning group, there is growing realization of what this means but they won't talk about it. it's again, as said, these are the invisibles of that part of the arsenal, not visible, we really don't know. i think they are paying attention, but we don't know. it's very hard to extract
information. >> i think you're right, it's a really esoteric issue, hard to know how the u.s. or others could have conversations with both sides about that issue. there are some issues about the legality of some subjects you might discuss given mpt commitments, the whole palace thing i don't know how far that extends. i'm sure the state department legal adviser has a view on that. it's a hard conversation to imagine. in public domain there's little information. the kind of capabilities being sought, what the implications of the capabilities are. as analysts, it's a very difficult space to work in, but i think you're right to flag it. >> i wanted to have one final question bringing back to the subject of the discussion, the bigger subject of the discussion, and we'll have closing words, if there aren't any other comments.
you probably get the question frequently, during the cold war about the pressler amendments, pakistan, u.s. national security reasons, during that period, pakistan violated terms and conditions set out, as well as united states chose to look the other way, too, for its own national security considerations. in 1990s the pressler amendment agreement went into effect ending government military sales to pakistan. so hypothetically, if we have deal in the loose level sense what are the institutional checks and balances? if such -- to prevent something like this and there was huge amount of bad blood that went into the u.s./pakistani relationship because of this, each side accusing others of, you know, various issues. so how would you -- how would you respond?
>> i think you're making the point that i started with, which is punitive side of this is unlikely to have any real effect on pakistan. other sanctions, i don't think there's any evidence to suggest those are forthcoming. there's some discussion you saw withholding of the coalition support funds. maybe there's some threat to military assistance to pack stan, i don't think those measures would have any real effect. for me it's the incentive side of the equation. sustaining the possibility there's a path to pakistan to join some of the nuclear regimes. if you close off the path permanently, what are the incentives for pakistan to change the behavior? so it's finding ways to work with those incentives.
that doesn't mean that things go absolutely smoothly, you know, kinds of steps that we suggested in our report were things that would be concrete and indicative of changing views about the utility of nuclear weapons and that's where we were looking for for evidence of change. i think there's, you know, real questions about the feasibility of these kinds of steps. it's clear in the reaction to the -- to our report, and in the news there may be some potential for discussion, the reaction of pakistan was quite severe, and there was a real closing of ranks. the military's essentially rejected any possibility of constraints. the space, if there was any space, the space is even narrower now. i think that there's -- the logic that i laid out is a simple one, and i think there's a rational for it. but again, that would require changes in pakistan that are difficult to foresee at this point. >> do you have any? >> yeah, sure. i'll just -- i'll say it