Following the end of the cold war and the break-up of the Soviet Union, there were rapid decreases in Russian military budgets. Soviet military expenditure had stood at almost USD $350 billion in 1988. However, by 1992 it had fallen to USD $60 billion and in 1998 was only USD $19 billion. The more flexible parts of the budget suffered the most, such as those for procurement and operations.
At the same time, the Russian arms industry saw several major clients for its weapons disappear, chief among them the former Warsaw Pact members and Iraq. By 1992, the arms industry Russia had inherited from the Soviet Union was in serious trouble. Most of its internal market and part of its export market was gone.
In parallel with this development, China was embarking on a serious military modernization. Boosted by its rapidly growing economy, it began to implement a long-planned reorganization of its armed forces and the acquisition of advanced weaponry. (This modernization had been planned since the 1970s and was given extra impetus by the poor performance of China’s armed forces against Viet Nam in 1979.) Chinese military spending has increased almost every year since 1989, the first year of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) data for China, from USD $21 billion in 1988 to USD $215 billion in 2015. With this surge, China overtook Russia’s spending in 1998 and within five years had become the second largest spender globally behind the United States.
Russian and Chinese military spending 1988–2015. Data and graphic: SIPRI
Mutual export and import dependencies
Because Chinese arms design capabilities had been relatively stagnant since the late 1960s, based on outdated Soviet designs and technologies, its industries sought the help of foreign suppliers and designers of equipment and components.
In the 1970s and 1980s, these specialists came primarily from Europe and the USA. However, these Western sources were largely closed off in 1989, primarily due to events in Tiananmen Square. Under these constraints, China began a search for alternatives.
By coincidence, rather than design, Russia and China found themselves in desperate need of a market and a source of military equipment respectively. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Russia’s arms industry survived largely because of its exports of newly produced combat aircraft, armoured vehicles and warships. China played a crucial role during this period. China was Russia’s largest client between 1999 and 2006, accounting annually for 34–60 per cent of the volume of Russia’s exports of major weapons.
Exports of major weapons by Russia to China 1987–2016. Data and graphic: SIPRI
The decision to sell weapons to China, however, was not without opposition in Russia. There were warnings that Russia would be arming a potential adversary that many suspected had its eyes on the Russian Far Eastern Federal District. Moreover, concerns were expressed that China would copy, without permission and without paying royalties, whatever Russia delivered. In the longer term, worries grew that China might soon become a serious competitor in the global arms market, often in the same countries and regions as Russia. However, the fact that China needed significant numbers of a variety of weapons—and was willing and able to pay in cash—won the argument. At its peak in 2005, China accounted for 60 per cent of all Russian deliveries of major weapons.
By 2006, however, the mutually beneficial export-import relationship between Russia and China had begun to shift. China’s share dropped to below 25 per cent between 2007 and 2009. Moreover, since 2010, the share has halved again to approximately 10 per cent. By that time, however, Russia had consolidated some of its other traditional markets in countries such as India and Algeria and received large orders from newer markets, such as Venezuela. Improvements in the Russian economy also meant that its military spending began to allow for larger orders for its domestic arms industry, reducing the need for exports.
Reverse engineering and market shifts
China’s shift away from Russian exports was in part linked to its own growing manufacturing capabilities. In line with Russia’s original concerns over the potential for reverse engineering by China, copies were made without permission of a variety of Russian weapon systems. Just a few years after Russia delivered the Sukhoi-27 (Su-27) combat aircraft, for example, China released the Jian-11 (J-11). While this aircraft was labelled ‘indigenous’, it was a near-copy of the Su-27. Similarly, new Chinese surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) looked very much like S-300 platforms from Russia. Moreover, Chinese submarines sported features of the Russian Project-877 and Project-636 Kilo class submarines supplied by Russia.
China also started to field its own advanced weapons, such as the Jian-10 (J‑10) and J-11 combat aircraft, various air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, and several types of warship. Thus, the emphasis of Chinese imports from Russia switched from complete weapon systems to components, such as engines. Only in the field of helicopters were Chinese efforts to develop indigenous systems slow, mainly because China had not yet mastered the production of propulsion systems, such as engines, transmissions and rotors. In this one area, imports of helicopters from Russia have remained significant (see table below; data from the SIPRI Arms Transfers Dataabse, received 2017).
Major Russian weapons delivered to China 1987–2016. Data: SIPRI
Beyond the diminished need for Russian imports, China also rapidly transitioned into a major arms exporter. This resulted in Chinese forays into markets in which Russia was active, including Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, Indonesia and even the former Soviet state of Turkmenistan. (India and Viet Nam are the only important markets where Russia does not face Chinese competition.) Compounding initial Russian concerns over reverse engineering and loss of market potential, China’s L-15 supersonic training and light attack aircraft and the Hongqi-9 (HQ-9) SAM system have also shown signs of ‘borrowing’ from Russian weapons.
New phase or last spasm?
After almost five years of difficult negotiations, Russia and China moved to a new level of arms trade in 2015. Russia finally agreed to sell China 24 Sukhoi‑35 (Su-35) combat aircraft and four S-400 SAM systems for approximately USD $7 billion. These are currently among the most advanced weapons Russia produces. This agreement marked a turning point. It was the first significant sale of Russian major weapons to China since the mid-2000s, representing a sizeable addition to Russia’s total annual value of arms exports, which has hovered between USD $13.5 billion and USD $15 billion in recent years.
The agreement could herald a new phase of large sales of Russia’s most sophisticated arms to China. However, it could also be viewed as a last chance for Russia to gain some income from arms sales to China before the latter becomes self-sufficient. The first scenario would fit the picture of warming Russian–Chinese relations, following the crisis in Ukraine. The second scenario is more tightly bound to Russian financial hardships and the difficulties in its arms industry since 2015. This sale could well be the last chance for Russia to engage in a major sale of military equipment to China. At the same time as the Su-35 and S-400 are due for delivery, China will be introducing its own more advanced Jian-20 (J-20) combat aircraft, as well as its own advanced jet engines, large transport aircraft, helicopters and long-range SAM systems—many of which are on a par with or even better than Russian systems.
When it comes to the arms trade, China has not only learned from Russia, but succeeded in challenging it. Given its financial and defence industrial base, China is likely to have more chances to develop new military technologies than Russia. China’s electronics, composites, advanced materials and shipbuilding industries are all more advanced than those in Russia. The size of the Chinese economy means that it has many more resources and much more manpower to invest in research and development. Thus, it is more than likely that China’s military technology will surpass that of Russia on all levels.
This topical backgrounder is based on a chapter within the report ‘China–Russia relations and regional dynamics: From pivots to peripheral diplomacy’. The report contains case studies from 27 experts from 13 countries. Over two days in January 2017, these experts assembled at a workshop at SIPRI of over 70 participants to discuss their research and analyses on China and Russia in both non-traditional and traditional security domains. First published in SIPRI.org
Pakistan’s Nuclear Safety and Security
Wyn Bowen and Matthew Cottee discuss in their research entitled “Nuclear Security Briefing Book” that nuclear terrorism involves the acquisition and detonation of an intact nuclear weapon from a state arsenal. The world has not experienced any act of nuclear terrorism but terrorists expressed their desires to gain nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has observed many incidents of lost, theft and unauthorized control of nuclear material. The increased use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes has intensified the threat that terrorist can target these places for acquiring nuclear materials. They cannot build a nuclear weapon because production of a nuclear weapon would require a technological infrastructure. Thus, it is the most difficult task that is nearly impossible because the required infrastructure and technological skills are very high which even a strong terrorist group could not bear easily, but they can build a dirty bomb.
A dirty bomb is not like a nuclear bomb. A nuclear bomb spreads radiation over hundreds of square miles while nuclear bomb could cause destruction only over a few square miles. A dirty bomb would not kill any more people than an ordinary bomb but it would create psychological terror. There is no viable security system for the prevention of nuclear terrorism, but the only possible solution is that there should be a stringent nuclear security system which can halt terrorists from obtaining nuclear materials.
The UN Security Council and the IAEA introduced multilateral nuclear security initiatives. Pakistan actively contributed in all international nuclear security efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. For example, United States President Barak Obama introduced the process of Nuclear Security Summit (NSS)in 2009 to mitigate the threat of nuclear terrorism. The objective of NSS was to secure the material throughout the world in four years.
Pakistan welcomed it and not only made commitments in NSS but also fulfilled it. Pakistan also established a Centre of Excellence (COEs) on nuclear security and hosted workshops on nuclear security. In addition to all this, Pakistan is a signatory of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 and affirms its strong support to the resolution. It has submitted regular reports to 1540 Committee which explain various measures taken by Pakistan on radiological security and control of sensitive materials and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) transfer. Pakistan is the first country which submitted a report to the UN establishing the fact that it is fulfilling its responsibilities. Pakistan ratified Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) in 2016. It is also the member of Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). It can be rightly inferred that Pakistan is not only contributing in all the international nuclear security instruments but has also taken multiple effective measures at the national level.
Pakistan created National Command Authority (NCA) to manage and safeguard nuclear assets and related infrastructures. The Strategic Plan Division (SPD) is playing a very important role in managing Pakistan’s nuclear assets by collaborating with all strategic organizations. Establishment of Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA)in 2001 is another development in this regard. The PNRA works under the IAEA advisory group on nuclear security and it is constantly improving and re-evaluating nuclear security architecture. National Institute of Safety and Security (NISAS) was established under PNRA in 2014. Pakistan has also adopted the Export Control Act to strengthen its nuclear export control system. It deals with the rules and regulations for nuclear export and licensing. The SPD has also formulated a standard functioning procedure to regulate the conduct of strategic organizations. Christopher Clary discusses in his research “Thinking about Pakistan’s Nuclear Security in Peacetime” that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals are equipped with Permissive Action Links (PALs) for its stringent security. According to Pakistan’s former nuclear scientist Samar Mubarakmand, every Pakistani nuclear arsenal is now fitted with a code-lock device which needs a proper code to enable the arsenal to explode.
Nonetheless the nuclear terrorism is a global concern and reality because terrorist organizations can target civilian nuclear facility in order to steal nuclear material. The best way to eradicate the root of nuclear terrorism is to have a stringent nuclear security system.
Western media and outsiders often propagate that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals can go into the wrong hands i.e. terrorists, but they do not highlight the efforts of Pakistan in nuclear security at the national and international level. The fact is that Pakistan has contributed more in international nuclear security efforts than India and it has stringent nuclear security system in place.
India’s Probable Move toward Space Weaponization
The term Space Weaponization tends to raise alarm as it implies deployment of weapons in the outer space or on heavenly bodies like Sun and Moon or sending weapon from earth to the outer space to destroy satellite capabilities of other states. Thus, space weaponization refers to the actions taken by a state to use outer space as an actual battlefield.
Space militarization on the other hand is a rather less offensive term which stands for utilization of space for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance missions through satellites to support forces on ground in the battle field. Space militarization is already in practice by many states. In South Asia, India is utilizing its upper hand in space technology for space militarization. However, recent concern in this regard is India’s attempts to weaponize space, which offers a bleak situation for regional peace and stability. Moreover, if India went further with this ambitiousness when Pakistan is also sending its own satellites in space, security situation will only deteriorate due to existing security dilemma between both regional counterparts.
Threats of space weaponization arise from the Indian side owing to its rapid developments in Ballistic Missile Defenses (BMDs) and Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). Both of these technologies, BMDs and ICBMs, hand in hand, could be used to destroy space based assets. In theory, after slight changes in algorithms, BMDs are capable of detecting, tracking and homing in on a satellite and ICBM could be used to target the satellites for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Many international scholars agree on the point that BMD systems have not yet acquired sophistication to give hundred percent results in destroying all the incoming ballistic missile, but they sure have the capability to work as anti-satellite systems. The reason behind the BMD being an effective anti-sat system is that it is easier to locate, track and target the satellites because they are not convoyed with decoys unlike missiles which create confusions for the locating and tracking systems.
India possesses both of the above-mentioned technologies and its Defense Research and Development Organization has shown the intention to build anti-satellite weaponry. In 2012, India’s then head of DRDO categorically said that India needs an arsenal in its system that could track the movement of enemy’s satellite before destroying it, thus what India is aiming at is the credible deterrence capability.
One thing that comes in lime light after analyzing the statement is that India is in fact aiming for weaponizing the space. With the recent launch of its indigenous satellites through its own launch vehicle not only for domestic use but also for commercial use, India is becoming confident enough in its capabilities of space program. This confidence is also making India more ambitious in space program. It is true that treaties regarding outer space only stop states from putting weapons of mass destruction in outer space. But, destruction of satellites will create debris in outer space that could cause destruction for other satellites in the outer space.
On top of it all the reality cannot be ignored that both Pakistan and India cannot turn every other arena into battlefield. Rivalry between both states has already turned glaciers and ocean into war zones, resultantly affecting the natural habitat of the region. By going for ballistic missile defences and intercontinental ballistic missiles India has not only developed missile technology but also has made significant contribution in anti-sat weaponry, which is alarming, as due to security dilemma, Pakistan will now be ever more compelled to develop capabilities for the security of its satellites. So far both states are confined till space militarization to enhance the capabilities of their forces, but if that force multiplier in space goes under threat, Pakistan will resort to capability to counter Indian aggression in space as well, which will be the classic action-reaction paradigm. Thus, it is pertinent that India as front runner in space technology develop policy of restrain to control the new arms race in the region which has potential to change the skies and space as we know them.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy: Impact on Strategic Stability in South Asia
Most significant incident happened when India tested its nuclear device on18 May, 1974.After India’s nuclear test, Pakistan obtained the nuclear technology, expertise and pursued a nuclear program to counter India which has more conventional force than Pakistan. Pakistan obtained nuclear program because of India, it has not done anything independently but followed India. Pakistan just wanted to secure its borders and deter Indian aggression. It was not and is not interested in any arms race in the region. It is not signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT). Pakistan has not signed NPT and CTBT because India has not signed it. Since acquiring the nuclear weapons, it has rejected to declare No First Use (NFU) in case of war to counter India’s conventional supremacy.
The basic purpose of its nuclear weapons is to deter any aggression against its territorial integrity. Riffat Hussain while discussing Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine argues that it cannot disobey the policy of NFU due to Indian superiority in conventional force and it makes India enable to fight conventional war with full impunity. Pakistan’s nuclear posture is based on minimum credible nuclear deterrence which means that its nuclear weapons have no other role except to counter the aggression from its adversary. It is evident that Pakistan’s nuclear program is Indiacentric.. Owing to the Indian superiority in conventional forces Pakistan nuclear weapons balance the conventional force power percentage between the two states. In November 1999, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar stated that ‘more is unnecessary while little is enough’.
The National Command Authority (NCA), comprising the Employment Control Committee, Development Control Committee and Strategic Plans Division, is the center point of all decision-making regarding the nuclear issue.According to the security experts first use option involves many serious challenges because it needs robust military intelligence and very effective early warning system. However, Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is concerned about nuclear security of weapons for which it has laid out stringent nuclear security system. Pakistan made a rational decision by conducting five nuclear tests in 1998 to restore the strategic stability in South Asia, otherwise it was not able to counter the threat of India’s superior conventional force.
The NCA of Pakistan (nuclear program policy making body) announced on September 9, 2015 the nation’s resolve to maintain a full spectrum deterrence capability in line with the dictates of ‘credible minimum deterrence’ to deter all forms of aggression, adhering to the policy of avoiding an arms race.”It was the response of Indian offensive Cold Start Doctrine which is about the movement of Indian military forces closer to Pakistan’s border with all vehicles. Pakistan wants to maintain strategic stability in the region and its seeks conflict resolution and peace, but India’s hawkish policies towards Pakistan force it to take more steps to secure its border. Pakistan’s nuclear establishment is very vigorously implementing rational countermeasures to respond to India’s aggression by transforming its nuclear doctrine. It has developed tactical nuclear weapons (short range nuclear missiles) that can be used in the battle field.
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in 2013 that Pakistan would continue to obey the policy of minimum credible nuclear deterrence to avoid the arms race in the region. However, it would not remain unaware of the changing security situation in the region and would maintain the capability of full spectrum nuclear deterrence to counter any aggression in the region. Dr. Zafar Jaspal argues in his research that Full credible deterrence does not imply it is a quantitative change in Pakistan’s minimum credible nuclear deterrence, but it is a qualitative response to emerging challenges posed in the region. This proves that Islamabad is not interested in the arms race in the region, but India’s constant military buildup forces Pakistan to convert its nuclear doctrine from minimum to full credible nuclear deterrence.
India’s offensive policies alarm the strategic stability of the region and international community considers that Pakistan’s transformation in nuclear policies would be risky for international security. They have recommended a few suggestions to Pakistan’s nuclear policy making body, but the NCA rejected those mainly because Pakistan is confronting dangerous threats from India and its offensive policies such as the cold start doctrine. Hence no suggestion conflicting with this purpose is acceptable to Pakistan. This is to be made clear at the all national, regional and international platforms that Pakistan is striving hard to maintain the strategic stability while India is only contributing toward instigating the regional arms race.
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