03/03/2014 - 18:05

Battlefield weapons and missile defense: Worrisome developments in nuclear South Asia

Ramamurti Rajaraman

Rajaraman is emeritus professor of physics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, co-chair of the International Panel on Fissile...

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Two recent developments in South Asia have increased the risk of an accelerated arms race between India and Pakistan. One development is Pakistan’s introduction of the Nasr missile, a very-short-range, "tactical" nuclear weapon that threatens India’s conventional forces and could also tempt other countries to develop battlefield-usable nuclear weapons. The other development is India’s announcement that it plans to use its nascent ballistic missile defense program to protect the civilian populations of Delhi and Mumbai, which would weaken Pakistan’s strategy of deterrence by threatening civilian casualties. Although these two developments occurred in response to other perceived threats and are not directly connected, both have introduced new and more dangerous dimensions to the South Asian nuclear scene.