Skip to comments.Pakistanís dirty bomb threat
Posted on 01/16/2014 11:57:12 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
These are difficult times for India. To counter the growing blue water capability of the Indian Navy, China has transferred designs and expertise to enable the Pakistan Navy to introduce tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) at sea.
On November 5, 2013, the Pakistan Armys Strategic Forces Command fired two quadruple salvos (i.e. eight missiles) of the NASR short-range (60 kilometre) battlefield ballistic missile capable of carrying a new miniaturised 200 kg plutonium warhead, (under development since 2011, but essentially a copy of a Chinese TNW tested in 1992 by China), thus introducing TNWs on land.
These NASR missile batteries with TNWs would be placed under local battlefield commanders (unlike strategic nuclear weapons which are under the National Command Authority, headed by Pakistans Prime Minister), who may use them at their discretion to blunt a conventional Indian attack (in response to a terror attack on India like 26/11).
Thus it will initiate a nuclear war, as India would respond with a massive nuclear strike in keeping with its nuclear doctrine. It is apparent from Pakistans posture and Chinese border incursions that these two allies do not believe that India will follow its nuclear doctrine of massive retaliation.
Pakistani NASR is a copy of the Chinese WS-2 rocket. Since the miniaturised TNWs (one to five kilotonnes or KTs) were reportedly tested by China in 1992, Pakistan does not have to test them. Such TNWs would have a yield of about two KT each (the Hiroshima Uranium bomb was 14 KT, and Nagasaki plutonium bomb was 22 KT) and a damage radius (a combination of blast, heat, pressure and radiation) of below one km, depending on the height of bomb explosion.
The plutonium for the TNWs would come from the four Khusab nuclear plants gifted by China, which will enable Pakistan to make four to five plutonium TNWs annually, in addition to 10 uranium atom bombs (yield about 14 KT each) it produces annually.
Added to this is the known capability of the Pakistan Air Forces Strategic Forces Command to deliver airborne nuclear weapons by fighter aircrafts using free fall nuclear bombs or the 350-km range (450 kg nuclear warhead) Raad air launched cruise missile (also of Chinese design, and this Raad will be carried by the Chinese supplied JF-17 Fighter aircraft).
On December 30, 2013, the media reported that arrested Indian Mujahideen terrorist Yasin Bhatkal had confessed to the police that he was assured by his Pakistani handlers that a dirty nuclear bomb could be made available to be dropped on Surat.
The dirty nuclear bomb is a simple radiological weapon of mass disruption (not to be confused with an atom or hydrogen bomb, both of which are weapons of mass destruction), which combines available radioactive materials (including those used in medical industry or research) with conventional explosives to cause mass panic and terror against civilian populations.
It contaminates the affected area with radioactive material. This has economic consequences as it leads to industrial and tourist shutdown. And thus arises the need for expensive decontamination equipment to cleanse the contaminated area by highly trained nuclear emergency response and support teams.
This dirty bomb threat (transported by sea in a repeat 26/11 type attack) is real and is merely an extension of the present Pakistani policy of using conventional terror. In such an alarming scenario, Pakistan would be hoping that its nuclear weapons (including ready to use TNWs) would deter an Indian response.
This article also deals with the new threat posed by Pakistan Navy, which plans to take TNWs to sea for possible use against Indian coastal cities like Mumbai, or the major oil terminal at Vadinar (Gujarat) or the Mumbai high offshore oil rigs or against the new task forces of the Indian Navy, which would be centred around the newly acquired 44,500-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the under construction 37,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (expected to join the Navy by 2018). In April 2011, Pakistan signed a contract with China for delivery of six Qing-class conventional submarines. Few Indians analysed the implications of this event.
These Qing subs, maybe delivered between 2017 and 2022. Each one of them would have the capability to launch the 700-km range, nuclear-tipped Babur land attack cruise missile that was produced in Pakistan but was, yet again, based on a Chinese design.
In 2012, the Pakistan Navy announced the creation of a new Strategic Naval Command to be headed by a vice-admiral. On December 19, 2012 and December 21, 2012, the media reports indicated that the Pakistan Navy had successfully test-fired a new land attack, nuclear tipped variant of the Chinese designed C-802 anti-ship missile with 120-km range or the 700-km range Babur nuclear capable land attack cruise missile from PNS Zulfiquar (one of four Chinese designed F-22 frigates with the Pakistan Navy).
The news further stated that the Pakistani Navy Chief Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila was present during the test firings and this would give the Pakistani Navy a counter value (i.e. targeting civilian population) deterrence capability against Indian coastal cities with TNWs.
India does not have TNWs. Indeed the experience of the Cold War showed that TNWs were inherently destabilising, as their inadvertent use by a battlefield commander (on land or sea) could trigger of a nuclear holocaust.
Hence both the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation gave up TNWs and relied on large, centrally controlled nuclear weapons for strategic deterrence.
Pakistan obviously has decided that it will have TNWs at sea, where a ship or submarine commander may be authorised to launch a nuclear strike against an Indian Task Force in international waters, on the false assumption that it will not trigger a massive Indian nuclear retaliation.
Even more dangerous is the prospect of a rogue jihadi Pakistans naval ship or submarine commander launching an unauthorised nuclear strike against a crowded city like Mumbai, thereby killing thousands in a nuclear 26/11.
Given that China poses an additional nuclear threat to India and that Pakistan is Chinas nuclear-armed proxy in South Asia, what are the options for India?
Post-2014, the next government should take a fresh look at Indias nuclear doctrine of no-first use and also expedite operational induction of ballistic and cruise missile defence systems. Our response mechanism to a dirty nuclear bomb or TNW or a strategic nuclear bomb needs to be exercised regularly with nuclear emergency response and support teams being tested and audited. Dedicated hospitals in each major city need to be earmarked and outfitted to provide medical assistance to victims of a nuclear attack.
The Indian Navy needs to factor in the new sea based nuclear threat emanating from Pakistan Navy and Pakistan-based sea terrorists, while maintaining a technological edge over deployable Chinese Navy units operating in the Indian Ocean region.
This means that the Indian Navy would need a capability to sanitise a belt of 350 miles around our coasts with a combination of intelligence, satellites, aircraft and warships, and simultaneously have enough nuclear tactical submarines to detect and destroy Pakistan Navys nuclear armed units as they leave Pakistan.
While strategic nuclear weapons are here to stay in the South Asia triangle comprising India, China and Pakistan, peace is not possible till TNWs and dirty nuclear bombs are abolished and dismantled under international supervision.
The writer retired as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam
Let’s just take a massive tiller to Pakistan and turn every last inch of dirt over twice...
Dispersing their nuclear weapons and making them smaller makes it almost certain that some will fall into the wrong hands. Apparently, Pakistan lost one or more nukes already. Several credible sources (China and India) speculated that was the reason for their massive military push into their hinterland; weapons recovery.
People say, “oh, you can’t launch them without the code.” This is a lock. You simply take the lock off and put your own on. (Or, in this case, a push-to-activate switch.)
The problem with keeping control of any military hardware is that eventually you have to trust the guy who works in the warehouse. When the Soviet Union fell a sergeant sold a fully refurbished Mig 29. He brought the pilot onto the base, fueled and armed it and it flew away. Apparently, never recovered. (A lot of the Middle East was in range.)
Mig 29 huh?
Man I’d sure be the center of attention if I flew one of those in to my airpark.
“Man Id sure be the center of attention if I flew one of those in to my airpark.”
There’s often a Mig 15 in full Soviet dress paint at the Tallahassee airport. Awesome. I’ve seen it many times from the road.
I was on the roof of a commercial building just west of Fort Lauderdale Exec. Airport a few years ago when a black mig with a red star on it’s tail took off and flew right over head.
Loud as hell and made ya think
Over the years a few Cuban pilots have stolen their Migs and flown apparently undetected to land at Florida airports. I remember reading in the paper that the pilot of one reportedly said they’d been taught to fly at wave top level to avoid detection. (Who needs stealth?)
years ago one of our presidents were in town when just that happened.
He flew to Homestead AFB without radioing in.
Landed and handed the keys over to the U.S. Gubmint
Non stealth second, third or fourth generation equipment can be every bit as effective as the latest, greatest and most expensive. Everything depends on the tactics and the pilot.
No, I wouldn’t want to go heat to head in a Mig-15 against anything newer, but if I got to catch them napping on the ground...
I sure hope they asked an identity question like, “What was your first pet’s name?”
This is forming interesting alliances. In the 1980s, both China and the US figured on military competing with each other eventually, with China rapidly developing their blue water navy, with the idea of eventually claiming the western Pacific.
However, because of that build up, India also saw a threat from China, so began to develop their own blue water navy. This in turn inspired Pakistan to horn in, as they usually want to do, forming an alliance with China, which built them a state of the art commercial and military blue water port, on condition that the Chinese could use it.
But then, India’s naval development was so fast and effective that China realized their next door neighbor was catching up with them, and were a more serious threat than the US. So China has had to redesign its navy with the idea of conflict with India. And hopefully using Pakistan as a proxy.
Now China has begun being obnoxious by claiming all the South China Sea, to the very shores of other nations, which is forcing alliances between countries that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago. Including Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, etc.
Except for some subtle involvement, to a great extent the US has been on the sidelines for much of this.