In a report to Congress, the Pentagon on informed that China is on its way to modernize its nuclear forces in order to and bolster its strategic strike capabilities.
Detailing China’s nuclear power, Pentagon said the country was deploying new command, control and communications capabilities to its nuclear forces to improve control of multiple units in the field. According to the Pentagon, China is working on a range of technologies to attempt to counter the US and other countries’ ballistic missile defence systems, including maneuverable re-entry vehicles (MaRVs), MIRVs, decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding.
Obviously, the defence capabilities possessed by the big powers including USA and Russia are among the main factors driving China to modernize its nuclear force. Indian fast track in updating its nuke arsenals is yet another reason Beijing has decided to focus on it nukes as a priority.
Pentagon said China’s nuclear weapons policy prioritizes maintaining a nuclear force able to survive an attack and to respond with sufficient strength to inflict unacceptable damage on an enemy. “Further increases in the number of mobile ICBMs and the beginning of SSBN deterrence patrols will force the PLA to implement more sophisticated C2 systems and processes that safeguard the integrity of nuclear release authority for a larger, more dispersed force,” it said.
China’s nuclear arsenal currently consists of approximately 75-100 ICBMs, including the silo-based CSS-4 Mod 2 (DF-5A) and Mod 3(DF-5B), the solid-fueled, road-mobile CSS-10 Mod 1 and Mod 2 (DF-31 and DF-31A), and the more-limited-range CSS-3 (DF-4). This force is complemented by road-mobile, solid-fueled CSS-5 Mod 6 (DF-21) MRBM for regional deterrence missions.
Pentagon reported that China insists that the new generation of mobile missiles, with warheads consisting of multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) and penetration aids, are intended to ensure the viability of its strategic deterrent in the face of continued advances in the USA and, to a lesser extent, Russian strategic ISR (Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), precision strike, and missile defence capabilities. “Similarly, India’s nuclear force is additional driver behind China’s nuclear force modernisation,” the Pentagon said in its report.
Through the use of improved communication links, ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) units now have better access to battlefield information and uninterrupted communications connecting all command echelons.
China has long acknowledged that it tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in 2014. The country’s official media also cited numerous PLASAF (Peoples Liberation Army Second Artillery Force) training exercises featuring manoeuvre, camouflage, and launch operations under simulated combat conditions, which are intended to increase survivability. Together with the increased mobility and survivability of the new generation of missiles, these technologies and training enhancements strengthen China’s nuclear force and bolster its strategic strike capabilities.
China continues to produce the JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), with four commissioned and another under construction. The JIN will eventually carry the CSS-NX-14 (JL-2) SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) with an estimated range of 7,200 km. Together these will give the PLAN its first credible long-range sea-based nuclear capability. JIN SSBNs based at Hainan Island in the South China Sea would then be able to conduct nuclear deterrence patrols, it said.
Meanwhile, amid reports that China and Pakistan are jointly opposing India’s bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group membership, the USA has said India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for entry into the exclusive club. State Department Spokesman John Kirby said the US president reaffirmed during his visit to India in 2015 that the US view was that India meets missile technology control regime requirements and is ready for NSG membership. His remarks came in response to a question on reports that China and Pakistan have joined hands to oppose India becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). “Deliberations about the prospects of new members joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group are an internal matter among current members,” he said.
Defending its move to block India’s entry into the NSG, China recently claimed that several members of the 48-nation bloc shared its view that signing of the NPT was an “important” standard for the NSG’s expansion. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in Beijing that not only China but also a lot of other NSG members are of the view that Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone for safeguarding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Asked about reports that China is pushing Pakistan’s entry into NSG linking it to India’s admission into the bloc, Lu said the NSG is an important part of NPT, which has been the consensus of the international community for long. Although India is not part of the NSG, Indian side recognizes this consensus, he claimed.
India, Pakistan, Israel and South Sudan were the four UN member states which have not signed the NPT, the international pact aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Last month, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had said that China has helped Pakistan to stall India’s bid to get NSG membership.
Off and on some experts do raise, at times seriously mostly or as a mere routine matter, the specter of a third World war, though already the US led NATO has been continuing a terror wars in Mideast to ensure energy and routes security.
China’s focus on South China and sea and its efforts to keep its nuclear forces in combat readiness gives the world the impression about an impending world war.
It is, however, not necessary that there would another world war or a big war to be launched by Washington or NATO that would exclusively target China, a veto power. As it is known there is clearly some tacit understanding among the veto members not wage a direct war between or among the veto powers.
No nuclear power, howsoever close it may be to USA, Russia or any other big power should be allowed to be a member of NSG until they sign the NPT for safeguarding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Since power is sincere or honest, any nuke power can proliferate nuclear material to put the humanity in greater risks.
China’s modernization effort could be a usual routine check of the effectiveness or otherwise of its nuclear forces, maybe with more vigor than hitherto.
Negating Nuclear Bluff
The war of words between India and Pakistan’s militaries prove that both South Asian nuclear states are intertwined in a traditional security competition. Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, while delivering the annual Army dinner, stated:”We will call the (nuclear) bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff.” Such statements of calling the ‘nuclear bluff’, ‘increased cross- border firing by Indian forces, which coupled with the proclamation of surgical strikes can lead to crisis instability in the region.
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor responded to the Indian army chief’s ‘nuclear bluff’ assertion by saying that such statements are unbecoming from a person of a responsible stature. He further stated that “Well, it’s their choice. Should they wish to test our resolve they may try and see it for them..…Pakistan’s credible nuclear deterrence is the only thing stopping India from a war.” Such statements by the Indian military officials, and a quick calculated response from Pakistan, have raised the concerns of security analysts regarding the regional security and strategic dynamics.
It could be an appropriate tactic of General Bipin for securing finances for the modernization of the Army, but an absurd and destabilizing statement for the strategic stability in South Asia. According to the analysts, such statements by Indian military officials can lead to crisis instability and force the Pakistan to hasten its evolution towards war fighting nuclear doctrine. Another alarming reality is that General Bipin has failed to realize the repercussions of misreading Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capability and too much confidence in India’s Cold Start Doctrine. Hence, Pakistan’s successful test of the ‘submarine-launched cruise missile Babur (SLCM Babur)’ can be viewed as a befitting response to India.
According to Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Babur is submarine-launched cruise missile with range of 450 km. It was fired “from an underwater dynamic platform” and “successfully engaged its target with precise accuracy; meeting all … flight parameters”. The development of Babur (SLCM) is a significant component of a “credible second-strike capability” and a step towards reinforcing Pakistan’s policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence through self-reliance and indigenization.
Previously, on January 9, 2017, Pakistan conducted its first successful test of indigenously developed submarine launched cruise missile Babur-III. Babur-III is also advanced, mature and indigenously developed series of cruise missiles. The First test of Babur-III was considered by Pakistan’ security planners as a major milestone and a right step in right direction towards reliable second strike capability. After the successful test of Babur-III, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, while congratulating the nation and the military on the first successful test-fire of the Submarine Launched Cruise Missile stated: “The successful test of Babur-3 is a manifestation of Pakistan’s technological progress and self-reliance.” He added: “Pakistan always maintains policy of peaceful co-existence but this test is a step towards reinforcing policy of credible minimum deterrence.” Therefore successful test of Babur-III, submarine launched cruise missile finalized the triad of Pakistan’s nuclear forces and second test of Babar on March 9, 2018 has enhanced Pakistan’s deterrence based on Second Strike Capability.
Another significant factor which forced Pakistan to acquire Second Strike Capability is India’s doctrinal transformation as it is clearly transforming its Nuclear Doctrine. New trends are emerging in India’s nuclear strategy as it is moving towards a ‘first-use’ or even a ‘first-strike nuclear strategy’. India’s nuclear doctrine is based on the ‘strategic ambiguity’, therefore it has been anticipated that India is shifting its nuclear strategy towards ‘counterforce targets’ rather than ‘counter value targets’. The second emerging trend is that India is moving towards the strategy of “First Use” or “Preemptive strike” from the “No-First Use strategy”. The abandoning of no first-use, development of missiles defense shield, fake claims of surgical strikes and calling the nuclear bluff are developments that are perilous for the regional security. Indeed, such events have forced Pakistan to maintain deterrence through qualitative and quantitative developments in nuclear forces. In the strategic landscape of South Asia, the presence of Pakistan’s credible second-strike capability is imperative for the continuity of the strategic stability between/among strategic competitors: India and Pakistan.
Subsequently, harsh statements by Indian military, its shifting nuclear doctrines and maturing sea based/ballistic missile defense developments capabilities are threatening for Pakistan. Such developments by India have been countered by Pakistan by carrying out two tests of nuclear-capable missiles, ‘Babur-3’ submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) and ‘Babar’. Pakistan’s tests of SLCM has further reinforced the debate on South Asian maritime security, second-strike capability and missile defense technologies in the regional landscape. To conclude, it’s impossible for the Indians to alter the strategic equilibrium between India and Pakistan. Though Islamabad is not matching the Indian conventional military buildup, yet it is gradually advancing its nuclear arsenal. Hence, Pakistan’s successful test of indigenous Submarine Launched Cruise (SLC) Missile ‘Babur’ has negated India’s desire to call Pakistan’s ‘nuclear bluff’ and has augmented the credibility of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence strategy. Addition of ‘Babur’ in Pakistan’s military inventory confirms that Pakistan armed forces are prepared to thwart any kind of Indian armed forces military adventurism.
A Likely Path to Nuclear Annihilation
U.S. President Donald Trump asserted on the morning of April 12th, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” This statement from him is interpreted here as constituting a public promise from him to start the overt phase of America’s invasion of sovereign Syrian territory, no longer just continue the prior phase, which has relied instead upon America’s proxy forces, which originally were the ones that were led by (U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-UAE supplied and armed) Al Qaeda in Syria, but increasingly now are Syria’s Kurds, which have taken control over a third of Syrian territory, in Syria’s northeast. This area includes the oil-producing region, from Deir Ezzor northward, and the conquest would cripple Syria’s economic future, so that U.S-Saudi control of the entire country would be only a matter of time.
On April 4th, Emily Burchfield, a program assistant at the Atlantic Council — NATO’s leading PR agency — headlined the following, in order to explain the U.S. military’s (i.e., NATO’s) objectives in Syria (and the whole headline-bloc is quoted here, because it succinctly states the article itself): Analysis: Washington Still Has Work to Do in Former ISIS Territories
Before the U.S. pulls out of Syria, Washington needs to address a governance gap left in some former ISIS territories. Otherwise, marginalized Arab communities will likely ally with the Syrian government or extremist forces, writes Emily Burchfield of the Atlantic Council.
The U.S. military, in other words, cannot accept that “marginalized Arab communities” will “ally with the Syrian government.” Analogous within the United States itself would be if some foreign power refused to accept that “marginalized White communities” will “ally with the U.S. government.” In other words: this is clearly a military demand (a demand that came to be expressed here by a paid employee of NATO’s top PR agency, the Atlantic Council) to break up the country.
Whereas the prior U.S. President, Barack Obama, had tried everything short of all-out direct military invasion — as contrasted to indirect invasion by U.S. proxy armies of jihadist mercenaries — in order to conquer or at least to break up Syria, the current U.S. President, Trump, is resorting now to the direct military invasion route: he’s taking the path that Obama had declined to take.
Syria’s allies are Iran and Russia. These allies have enabled Syria to survive this long, and they all would be capitulating to the U.S. if they accepted the U.S. military invasion of Syria. For them to do that, would be for them to display, to the entire world, that the United States is their master. The U.S. Empire would, in effect, be official, no longer merely aspirational.
In the case of Russia, since it is the other nuclear super-power, this would be not just a surrender to the other nuclear super-power, but also Russia’s doing that without even waging a conventional-forces war against the U.S. Empire. That is extremely unlikely.
Consequently, Russia is probably now (on April 12th) coordinating with Iran, and with its allies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, a conventional-forces war against the invaders.
If that conventional-forces war inflicts more damage to U.S.-and-allied forces than they inflict against Syria, that would, in military terms, constitute a “military defeat” for the U.S.
This would leave the U.S. only two options:
Either accept that Russia is another nuclear super-power (which the U.S. Deep State has refused to accept), and end the previously subterranian war to conquer it that was started by George Herbert Walker Bush on the night of 24 February 1990, or else blitz-attack Russia itself in order to eliminate enough of Russia’s retaliatory weapons so as to ‘win’ the nuclear war — i.e., inflict even more destruction upon Russia than Russia would still possess and control the surviving weaponry to inflict against America in response.
Optical Missile Tracking Systems and Minimum Credible Deterrence
There was a time in human history when nuclear technology was the “it” technology; no one could imagine anything beyond it. The destruction and wrath it brought was not only terrifying but mesmerizing. It was fascinating for ordinary people, leaders, scientists and states that the smallest particle of matter upon breaking can release energy which could burn down a whole city in seconds. Thus, invention of nuclear weapons changed the way of thinking of nations, states and leaders. Mastering the fission of radioactive atom to enable it to release energy is not a child’s play; states invest billions in currency to make nuclear weapons.
At the operational level, a nuclear weapon requires delivery systems. In this regard, strategic bombers, ships, submarines and missiles are commonly used delivery vehicles by the states. But, one of the most significant and reliable delivery systems is missiles, With missiles, states can launch nuclear pay load from their own territory or from any other place without risking its human resource, in case of sending bombers. Missile technology all around the world is growing by leaps and bounds. After nuclearization, both Indian and Pakistan pursued missile technologies including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, ballistic missile defences, Multiple Independently re-entry targetable vehicles and inter-continental ballistic missiles as well. States invest in nuclear weapons because it helps them achieve deterrence which stops states from using nuclear option due to fear of unacceptable damages to one’s vital interests. However, to endorse credibility of nuclear weapons, states invest in military modernization.
The main objective behind nuclearization of Pakistan was to create deterrence against India but without indulging into arms race. Thus, policy of minimum credible deterrence was developed by Pakistan. Later on, after India’s attempt to exploit the levels beneath nuclear threshold, Pakistan resorted to the policy of full spectrum deterrence without going for arms race. So, to create credible but minimum deterrence at the start of year 2017, Pakistan tested multiple independently reentry targetable vehicle (MIRV), which can deliver multiple nuclear war heads in one go.
Development of MIRV by Pakistan is neither consequence of ambitious national objectives nor is it meant to initiate an arms race in the region. But, it is to make nuclear deterrence viable against India’s BMDs which can intercept incoming ballistic missiles through interceptors and destruct them in the air.
Pakistan, due to its economic restraints could not go for BMD in response to India; as it is an expensive technology that has yet to achieve 100% success rate. So, considering its options, MIRVs came out as the most rational choice. However, MIRVs are one of the most complex technologies in which missile can carry more than one warhead in a single launch and with the capability to hit multiple individual targets. They require technological sophistication in not only sending so many vehicles in one launch but also in yield and most importantly in accuracy. With enough yield and accuracy MIRVs provide states the capability to go for pre-emptive strikes. Thus, MIRV have the capability to overwhelm the BMD system and resultantly eliminate the false sense of security under which India could go for first strike.
To increase the accuracy of MIRV missiles, Pakistan bought highly sophisticated, large scale optical tracking and measurement system from China. According to national news agency, Pakistan has deployed this sophisticated technology in battlefield. Before Chinese system, Pakistan was utilizing indigenous systems. Nonetheless, it will help Pakistan record high-resolution images of a missile’s departure from its launcher, stage separation, tail flame and, after the missile re-enters atmosphere, the trajectory of the warheads it releases. These functions will be possible because the system bought by Pakistan comes with a pair of high-performance telescopes equipped with a laser ranger, high-speed camera, infrared detector and a centralised computer system that automatically captures and follows moving targets. However, what makes this system unique is its ability to detect missile up to range of several hundred kilometers through the help of its telescopes. The timing of these telescopes are precisely synchronized with the atomic clock. Thus, now Pakistan can track different warheads going in different directions simultaneously. Moreover, through visual imagery, the missile developers can improve the accuracy and design of missile in much better way.
So, with this technological uplift, Pakistan will soon add Ababeel (MIRV) into its operational missile inventory. But, these actions by Pakistan are not to give rise to arms race rather they are the reactions to the actions taken by India. BMDs by India never strengthened nuclear deterrence or stability rather they eliminated the deterrence by nulling the credibility of ballistic missiles. As a result, to maintain credibility of its deterrence though minimum means, Pakistan opted for MIRV, as missile tracking systems are essential in improving the accuracy and designs of missiles. If anything indicates arms race in the region, it is India’s ICBMs, naval nuclear fleets and space weaponization.
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