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The Prospects of Nuclear Disarmament in the New Nuclear Architecture



The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the foundation for the nuclear arms control and disarmament initiatives. Since coming into effect in 1970, the P5 have failed to act upon Article-VI of the NPT which states:

“… Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race… and complete disarmament …..”[1]

Thus, the failure of implementation by major powers have impacted the credibility of the non-proliferation initiatives. Moreover, the non-compliance have instilled discord and mistrust among the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS). The latter states considers that the NWS have not fulfilled their commitments to various arms control initiatives from the Cold War era to Post Global Zero which are enlisted in the table below.[2]During 2019 NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) which was held at UN headquarters in New York from 29 April to May 10, United States (US) proposed a new initiative for nuclear disarmament termed as “Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament” (CEND)aiming to implement NPT Article (VI) modify security environment to achieve cooperation and trust and enhance confidence in nuclear disarmament. Sweden put forward its working paper “Stockholm Initiatives or Stepping Stone Approach” exploring paths to rebuild ‘habits of cooperation, reducing uncertainty and identifying measures to reduce the risk of nuclear use. Further, US proposed trilateral arms control initiative calling upon Russia and China to participate. This issue brief tries to implore the causes, international impact and prospects behind proposition of new non-proliferation frameworks and whether are these in line with the existing norms based upon NPT or do they form new nuclear architecture.

Exploring The Age of Uncertainty

The emerging multipolarity between US, China and Russia has resulted into deteriorating international security environment. The contestation among major powers in political, economic and technological arena has ensued a new Cold War instigating arms race which are destabilizing norms for arms control and disarmament. The withdrawal of US and Russia from various initiatives including Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) along with the uncertain and fading future of New START by February 2021 has placed the future of arms control initiatives in a disarray. The US in its recent policy papers including National Security Strategy 2017 and Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) 2018[3] has categorically stated the rise of China and re-emergence of Russia as a threat to its national security, marking a major shift from its previous policy narratives. Thus, the withdrawal from arms control commitments, shift in policy statements of US and deployment of missile defense systems and intermediate range missiles in Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific have consequently raised the security concerns for Russia and China respectively.[4]

The Shaking of Nuclear Disarmament Architecture

The nuclear architecture is facing a shakedown in the contemporary era as major arms control initiatives are being abandoned. US announced withdrawal from INF in February 2019 based upon the pretext of treaty violation by Russia citing development of non-complaint 9M729 ballistic missile, allegations which are denied by Moscow.[5] The cessation of the INF came into effect on August 2, 2019. The future of New START has been jeopardized as Trump administration considers not to further extend the treaty after it expires in February 2021. US considers it to be flawed as it did not covered the modern Russian weapon systems including nuclear powered cruise missiles, and torpedoes.

During the 2019 NPTPrepCom the major powers including US, Russia, China and Sweden pitched for initiating new nuclear non-proliferation initiatives in their working papers. CEND, the working paper proposed by US aimed to address the emerging security challenges which cause further increase in arms race and uncertainty. The paper further pressed upon employing institutional processes, creating incentives for states to reduce their dependence on nuclear weapons and abrogation them as a tool of national security policy. Thus, creating a conducive environment for disarmament based on Article-VI of NPT.[6]The Sweden similarly proposed the working paper titled as “Stepping Stones Approach” or “Stockholm Initiative” aiming to resolve outstanding arms control processes by breaking them into small manageable steps. The paper aimed to increase cooperation and trust among NWS and NNWS, checks on fissile material and emphasize upon negative security assurances.[7] China produced the joint statement of the P5 states which pledged on working together for observing complete disarmament while delivering upon the existing commitments including NPT, CD, CTBT and International Partnership For Nuclear Disarmament Verification(IPNDV) in good faith. While, Russia raised concerns on the non-ratification of CTBT by the US as indicated during NPR 2018, thus, highlighting US intentions for carrying nuclear tests in future.[8]

The Trump administration has displayed contradictory stance on the future of New START. On July 17, 2019 between US and Russian delegation headed by US Under Secretary of State and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister in Geneva. During the strategic talks the two sides reportedly thoroughly talked about the extension of the New START.[9] While, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Osaka the US hinted to initiate a three-way treaty that will include US, Russia and also bring China in the ambit of arms control treaties. While, Beijing has categorically stated that it will not become a party to any such initiative as it is not involved in numerical dominance. The major purpose for this measure is to restrict the Chinese intermediated range strategic forces which threaten the US interests in the region, have thrived due to the absence of any arms control agreements.

A New Cycle of Arms Race

In contemporary era the phenomenon of new arms race is being observed between major powers US, Russia and China at conventional, strategic and tactical level, space and cyber domain. The trend is being established by doctrinal shifts and massive force modernizations. The extent of increase in defense spending can be analyzed from the SIPRI estimates for 2018 which mount up to USD 1.8 trillion showcasing 2.6% rise from 2017. The US being the largest military spender has embarked upon a major force modernization with China tailing behind with USD 250 billion and Russia with USD 61.4 billion.[10]The withdrawal from INF also indicates the development of a new range of medium and intermediate range tactical, hypersonic and ballistic missiles, further lowering the nuclear threshold. Moreover, US have devised the budget of USD 1.2 trillion for 2017-2046 nuclear force modernization.[11]

The cyber domain in this context is also crucial with rapid dependency of critical infrastructure related to national security based upon cyber technology, while US is also initiating space forces. Russia on the other hand has surpassed US in the field of hypersonic and glide vehicles including ICBMs, nuclear powered cruise missiles and torpedoes showcased during Putin’s State of Union speech in March 2018 which can out-smart existing western missile defense systems along with robust cyber and space commands.[12] China, an emerging power and second largest military spender is also undergoing force modernization, developing ambitious cyber and space programs, which areduly emphasized in 2019 Defense White Paper.[13]This emerging cycle of arms race will have deteriorating impact on international security environment and further ensuing arms race at regional levels.

The Prospects of New Nuclear Disarmament  and Nonproliferation initiatives

US, being on the helm of international affairs is wielding the arms control norms for its own interests, disregarding the international and regional repercussions of its decisions.. US proposals for trilateral initiatives including Russia and China are solely for putting caps on the strategic forces capabilities of these states, especially that of China. The international community would be cautious of any future initiatives as they lack credibility after withdrawal of US from JCPOA and INF. The inception of new framework for non-proliferation while capitalizing upon NPT holds bleak prospects for implementation. Russia has withdrawn itself from the observer status at IPNDV while China is not willing to be part of the new trilateral initiatives for arms control. These initiatives outcast non NPT nuclear weapon states and are aimed to curtail threats imminent to US and West rather than to international community at large. Subsequently, the emergence of new arms race have impact on international and regional balance of power as aspiring states will compete for dominance. The hegemonic ambitions of India in South Asian region is an evident example of this destabilizing phenomenon. India is gearing to compete China and has undergone massive conventional and nuclear force modernization including developments in cyber and space domain. Thus, compelling Pakistan to follow suite catering for its security needs to maintain balance of power in the wake of destabilizing security environment.


The debate for arms control and nuclear disarmament has been unfortunately for long has been played as self-serving and hollow pledges by the major NWS which have failed to deliver upon them. The withdrawal from the INF would lead to further lowering of the nuclear threshold as the US would actively develop and deploy tactical nuclear weapons in regions of interest including Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe. The new nuclear architecture developed by the actions of major powers further weaken and deteriorate the efficacy of institutional norms. The efficacy and credibility of new initiatives such as CEND among other remains questionable as the P5 have failed to deliver measurable progress upon the existing arms control and disarmament initiatives. The emerging nuclear architecture blur the legitimacy of the arms control initiatives and further encourage NNWS to pursue for alternative measures including nuclear weapons program to secure their interests. Thus, resulting in proliferation of nuclear weapons which threaten world peace and security. The major powers should for once initiate a robust implementation upon their aforementioned commitments in good faith rather than devising frameworks for achieving their limited interests.

Nuclear Disarmament Initiatives Post Global Zero[14]

Name of  InitiativeObjectives/ MandateMember StatesOriginFocal MemberStatus
Global ZeroComplete dismantlement of Nuclear Warheads by 2030 under 4 Phase plan.Over 300 world leaders, academicians, diplomats.Paris December 09, 2008Initiated on the pretext of Obama’s Prague Speech on Nuclear Free World in April 1, 2009.Phase 1 (2010-13) reduce warheads to 1000 Phase 2(2014-18) Multilateral framework for reduce war heads to 500. Phase 3 (2019-23) Negotiate Global Zero Accord Phase 4 (2024-30) Reduction of all Warheads to Zero and continue Verification and enforcement system.
International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND)To reinvigorate international NPD efforts and develop consensus for 2010 NPT RevCon.Japan/ Australia2008Japan/ Australia 
Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI)Aimed to facilitate the implementation of the measures of the 2010 NPT Review ConferenceAustralia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Turkey, UAE.September 2010Japan/ AustraliaHiroshima Declaration (2014) proposals for both disarmament and nonproliferation, including calls to negotiate the FMCT, increase nuclear safety and safeguards, encourage the entry into force of the CTBT, and transparency in disarmament reporting.
Austrian Pledge/ Humanitarian InitiativeHumanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and negotiating a prohibition against nuclear weapons under the framework of the NPT.159 states8-9 December 2014Austrian Deputy Foreign Minister Michael LinhartThe nuclear weapon states did not participate in the first two conferences, but the United States and United Kingdom sent representatives to attend the third conference in Vienna.
P-5 StepContinue to seek progress on the step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament5 NPT recognized NWS P5 StatesP-5 states have held seven conferences to increase dialogue and transparency in disarmament progress. At the 2015/19 Review Conference each of the P5 states submitted its national report
Nuclear Weapons Ban TreatyNNWS recommended UNGA to Negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination.Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of NNWS2016UNGAOn 27 October 2016, UNGA adopted voted to adopt the resolution to convene the nuclear ban conference, followed suit on 23 December 2016 by UNGA.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear WeaponsStrengthen norms against nuclear weapons.25 party, 70 signatory states.7 July 2017UNGANWS have been sharply critical of the treaty process  asserting that the treaty deepens the division between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states
International Partnership For Nuclear Disarmament VerificationEngage diverse group of countries to develop innovative monitoring and verification solutions for disarmament.33 participatory statesDecember 2017U.S. State Department and Nuclear Threat InitiativeA major new international initiative, co-led by NTI and the U.S. Department of State and involving over 25 countries, focused on nuclear disarmament verification
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)Working to promote adherence to and full implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons468 partner organizations in 101 countries2007Melbourne, AustraliaAwarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its “ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of nuclear weapons.”
Group of Eminent Persons for Substantive Advancement of Nuclear Disarmament,To  rebuild trust among NWS and NNWS having differing approaches towards a NWFZ May 2017JapanSubmitted its recommendations to the second session of the Prep-Com for the 2020 NPT Review Conference
Stepping Stone Approach to Nuclear Disarmament/ Stockholm Initiative.Explore paths to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in state doctrines, rebuild ‘habits of cooperation,’ increase the transparency of fissile material stocks, and identify measures to reduce the risk of use. May 7, 2019SwedenProposed during 2019 NOT PrepCom.
Creating Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND) Aims toimplement article VI of NPT and modify security environment to achieve cooperation and trust and enhance confidence in nuclear disarmament.Approximately 100 delegates representing 42 states attendedJuly 2, 2019US Department of StateFirst Session was held on June 11.

[1] “Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT),” IAEA,

[2] “Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, August 7, 2018,

[3] US Department of Defense, Nuclear Posture Review, Washington D.C: 2018.

[4]Liu Xuan, Wang Qingyun, “Possible missile deployment raising concerns in Asia-Pacific, Beijing says,” ,China Daily, August 7, 2019,

[5] Julian Borger, “Donald Trump confirms US withdrawal from INF nuclear treaty,” The Guardian, February 1, 2019,

[6]Paul Meyer, “Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament: Striding Forward or Stepping Back?,” Arms Control Association, April 2019,

[7]Sebastian Brixey Williams, “Foreign Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallström, launches ‘Stepping Stones’ Approach to Nuclear Disarmament,” Basicint, May 7, 2019,

[8]Alicia Sanders-Zakre, “Reporting on the 2019 NPT PrepCom,” Arms Control Association, May 10, 2019,

[9]“ Trump Expects to Reach Arms Control Agreement with Russia,” Sputnik, July 31, 2019,—report/.

[10] “World military expenditure grows to $1.8 trillion in 2018,” SIPRI, April 29, 2019,

[11] “US Nuclear Modernization Programs,” Arms Control Association, August 2018,

[12] Joseph Trevithick, “Here’s The Six Super Weapons Putin Unveiled During Fiery Address,” The Warzone,  March 1, 2018,

[13]“China’s New 2019 Defense White Paper,” Center For Strategic and International Studies, July 24, 2019,

[14] “Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection,” Nuclear Threat Initiative,

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Urgency of Reviewing India-Pakistan’s CBMs & Risk Reduction Measures

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In an unprecedented event on March 9, 2022, India launched a missile, reportedly identified as the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which landed in Pakistan. After crossing the international border, the missile travelled 124 kilometres at an altitude of 40,000 feet into Pakistani airspace before impacting near the city of Mian Channu, Khanewal District. Following the incident, India started issuing clarification statements only after Pakistan reported the matter. In its first statement, India noted that the missile was accidently launched owing to a technical malfunction. Later, the Indian government changed its statement and termed it a human error, involving ‘possible lapses on part a Group Captain and a few others.’ Around six months later, India terminated the services of three Indian Air Force (IAF) officers, after a Court of Inquiry found ‘deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)’ by the officers and held them responsible for misfiring the missile.

Pakistan has rejected the purported closure of the incident and called the findings of the Court of Inquiry unsatisfactory and inadequate. While reiterating its call for a joint probe, Pakistan not only termed Indian clarifications ‘simplistic’ but also criticised the country for failing to immediately inform when the missile was launched. India’s failure to communicate the incident violated the 1991 agreement with Pakistan on preventing air space violations. Under the agreement, both India and Pakistan have to inform and investigate inadvertent violations of airspace promptly. Meanwhile, India also failed to activate the high-level military hotline to inform Pakistan. Both the countries maintain mechanisms of hotline contact between their Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) to resolve misunderstandings.

Fortunately, the missile was unarmed and no lives were lost. Pakistan also responded towards the situation with restraint. However, the incident marks an alarmist event. Whether the incident was an accidental launch, an unauthorised launch, or a simulated exercise, it suggests not only shortcomings in India’s technical and procedural system but also shows its irresponsible behaviour as a nuclear weapon state. The incident also raises numerous questions about the country’s safety protocols, Command and Control (C2) of nuclear weapons and missiles, and communication mechanisms. The situation would have escalated if the accident had led to destruction or loss of lives, since there were several indications that Pakistani authorities had considered retaliation. Second, if the incident had taken place during a crisis, it could have led to inadvertent military escalation owing to miscalculations.

In this regard, there is a great urgency that both India and Pakistan collaborate on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to ensure that such accidents or unauthorised launches do not take place in the future. Even if they do, the two countries should be able to inform each other before any military response.

First, India and Pakistan need to review their joint 2005 Agreement on the Pre-Notification of Flight Testing of Ballistic Missiles. The agreement covers surface-to-surface ballistic missiles only, and each country provides at least three days’ notice for a test launch. Both countries are obligated to not situate test launch sites within 40 kilometres of their shared border nor land a weapon closer than 70 kilometres from the border. However, the agreement has its limitations as it does not cover cruise missiles. In 2005, New Delhi declined to accept Islamabad’s proposal to include launch of cruise missiles in their joint agreement on pre-notification of ballistic missile launches. Currently, Pakistan and India have multiple and diverse types cruise missiles in their arsenal with high ranges. There is an urgency of expanding the pre-notification regime to include cruise missiles, including surface, air or sea-launched versions to avoid misunderstanding. Second, in order to avoid accidents in case of routine maintenance or inspection, India should efficiently and professionally ensure safety precautions regarding its missiles.

Additionally, India and Pakistan could also consider devising new Risk Reduction Measures (RRMs). For example, missiles that are scheduled to be inspected, both countries need to configure their weapons’ guidance systems to unoccupied places such as oceans or deserts where they pose minimum dangers. Moreover, the weapons’ pre-fed adversary target locations need to be removed while used for inspection, training, or simulated exercises. The maintenance of actual coordinates of adversary targets could lead to unintended escalation in accidental launches. These measures would not only help avoid accidents, they could also serve as an added layer of protocol to minimise the possibility of unauthorised launch.

However, accidents happen despite best safety protocols as there are limits of safety procedures. In such a possibility, there is a need of haste to communicate accidental launches. India needs to make use of existing channels of communication to avoid miscalculations in times of crises. The BrahMos missile incident indicates that crisis could erupt quite quickly between India and Pakistan. Unless the two countries adhere to their existing CBMs and establish new measures, mitigating such incidents and preventing risk of escalation could become a Gordian knot.

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Why Parties to Russia Ukraine War Prolonging it?

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Russia Ukraine War seems to be entering a deadly phase after seven months, witnessing significant twist in the form of Kremlin’s declaring victory in hasty referendum in four regions of occupied territory to join Russia, poising itself for complete annexation of occupied areas, having announced partial mobilization calling up 3,00,000 reservists for frontline duties. The recent successes of Ukrainian counteroffensive, as the cumulative military aid over $60 billion poured into Ukraine from US led NATO, seems to have emboldened Zelensky to talk of defeating Russia and getting back his entire territory. Angered NATO, left out of battle by nuclear threat, calling out sham referendum, is looking to table new resolution against it, knowing fully well that it will be vetoed by Russia.

Why No Party to the war is thinking of conflict termination?

This prolonged war is making everyone in the world vulnerable to inflationary pressures, triggering an unprecedented energy crisis and acute food shortages. In view of that, diplomacy and talks for conflict termination should have been the logical option long back, but no party to the war seems to be thinking about it due to own strategic interest, wanting to make more gains before getting back to negotiation table. All parties know that they can’t be outright winners in this war, but all are prolonging their agony to avoid being an outright loser.

Russian Stakes

Russia is yet to achieve its strategic aim of liberating complete Donbass Region and remaining southern Ukraine to landlock it, to join up with Transnistria. It has suffered heavy casualties and reverses in many regions like Kharkiv. It has received no worthwhile military material support from anyone in the prolonged war; hence consolidating its gains, redeployment of troops in Russian friendly areas by pulling back from unfriendly ones, along with regrouping and rejig in military hierarchy is a sensible option from military perspective.

The awkward thinly veiled threat by President Putin to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, if Russian “territorial integrity” is threatened has put NATO on notice as to how it would respond. The expected annexation post referendum complicates the nuclear threat, as attack on annexed territory may invite nuclear response as per Russian nuclear policy.

Putin may not be encouraged with meek support from China, its ‘strategic partner with no limit’ seemingly responding within careful limits, and comments like ‘Not an era of war’ from otherwise impartial India. Russia might end up with extension of direct land border with NATO by over 1000 Km in terms of Finland joining it. It also continues to suffer standoff attacks from Ukraine’s recently acquired long range capabilities including drones and clandestine raids of special forces and non-state actors like blasts in Crimea.

Russia is aware of its limitations in the areas of economic, diplomatic, information warfare, and political warfare. Russia’s much-criticised partial mobilisation and call for reservists is comparable to Ukraine’s, which carried it out while under Martial Law, seven months ago and was praised by Western media, highlighting information war against Russia. As a result, it will be prone to hold onto its existing territorial gains and prolong the conflict into the winter, which could favor a new offensive to accomplish remaining military objectives to give itself a stronger negotiating position to have the sanctions lifted.

Ukrainian Stakes

Having accepted so much of political, strategic and military investment of NATO in his country and tasted some success in his counteroffensives, President Zelensky, posing to be fighting on behalf of US led NATO to weaken Russia, is not in a position to back out from prolonging the war.

Ukraine cannot overlook the fact that it has lost 15% of its original land since being independent, is left with over 10 million refugees, devastated towns, suffered significant casualties, and its hyped democracy is struggling under martial law and referendum. While US-led NATO’s military assistance and arsenal can increase its combat power to launch standoff attacks, regaining lost ground from the Russians will be very difficult because they will use built-up areas for defending their gains in a manner similar to how Ukrainian troops did, more so under nuclear hangover.

NATO’s military support to pursue war will not bring Ukraine any closer to peace; nevertheless, it may result in long-term changes to its territorial configuration, unending proxy war, and enhance long term Russian threat. President Zelensky is aware that the western narrative and information war that portrays him as a hero and clear victor is unsustainable, yet he will prolong the conflict in order to safeguard his political survival and continued aid.

NATO’s Stakes

NATO may be encouraged by successes of Ukrainian counter-offensives, and its own gains in non-kinetic, non-contact, undeclared war against Russia in economic, information, diplomatic and political domains, but concerned that it can’t take Putin’s nuclear threat lightly, because a tactical nuclear strike from cornered Russia is within the realms of possibility, if Russia declares newly acquired territory as its integral part, post successful referendum and applies the policy of escalate to de-escalate.

The United States may benefit from sales of arms, energy, and post-conflict construction contracts in Ukraine, and it may justify recent increases in aid in order to pursue its goal of weakening Russia in order to fend off potential rivals in Europe, but its biggest strategic loss is bringing Russia, China, and Iran closer than ever before in a strategic partnership. It may be beginning of adoption of alternate global/localised financial systems, undermining its grip on current global financial system.

NATO, encouraged by soft Russian response to the bid of Finland and Sweden to join NATO, is keen to add both with strong militaries, to secure its northern flank for better collective security posture in the long run. It also makes sense in context of Sino-Russian footprints in Arctic region and North Atlantic Ocean.

NATO will continue to urge Russia to end the conflict while supporting Ukraine in its proxy war until last Ukrainian remains because holding negotiations when a sizable portion of the land is in Russian hands will be viewed as NATO’s weakness. With millions of refugees mixed in with activated mercenaries and a longer border with belligerent Russia, which will reorganise itself after learning from its mistakes, the war is undoubtedly not making Europe more peaceful. It has signaled its willingness to sacrifice its energy and economic interests in order to achieve that goal. To effectively combat unfriendly Russia in the long run, the EU will need to increase its defence spending while holding some sovereign decisions hostage to the USA.

Way Ahead

Despite the narrative and rhetoric of the west, Ukraine may not recapture a sizable amount of territory, but standoff strikes, proxy war, clandestine operations, and some ground operations to cause Russian fatalities will continue in the coming days, inviting an equal or stronger Russian reaction.

In the Big powers’ contestation in Ukraine, the global need is that this war should end, but the negotiations are unlikely, because Russia has not yet achieved its strategic objectives on the ground, which is essential to persuade NATO to lift sanctions. On the other side, US led NATO doesn’t have any leverage to restrain Putin, so it finds weakening Russia by ongoing proxy war, without sharing any burden of body bags, as the most convenient option.  This is especially true when Zelensky is prepared to take this move because he understands that without US support, he will lose his position of power.

In current phase of offensive, Russia seemed to have reached its culmination point before seizing center of gravity of Ukrainian forces, a situation which is uncomfortable for any attacker in military campaign. The referendum and nuclear threat by Russia have pushed the war into next phase, with NATO yet to work out its responses.

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India overreacted to the US $450 million deal with Pakistan



India registered a strong protest with the US last week over the latter’s decision to approve a $ 450 million sustainment package for Pakistan’s aging F-16 Fleet. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency DSCA said in a statement that the sustainment program would assist Pakistan in its campaign against terrorism with a rider that it will not affect the status quo in the region. The Biden administration has ignored the “strong objections” raised by India over the proposed foreign military sale of $450 million to Pakistan in order to sustain the Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 program.

Pakistan’s arch-rival India has voiced “serious objections” to the US plan for Foreign Military Sales (FMS) worth $450 million for hardware, software, and spares for the F-16 fighter jet during official meetings with US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu in Delhi.

In widely published comments, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said last week that the US was not “fooling anybody” by claiming the equipment was for counterterrorism operations. Recently Indian foreign Minister cut short his trip to the US, and without attending his pre-scheduled meetings and returned back to India in protest. His behavior was unprecedented in the diplomacy world and considered an overreaction.

Prime Minister Modi is upset too and sources close to his are guessing a severe reaction from him. Unconfirmed, but a possible reaction may include cancellation of defense agreements with the US, and exclusion from “Quad” – an anti-China alliance with the US, Japan, and Australia. The Indian ideology of intolerance, extremism, and nationalism is the real threat to the region.

As a matter of fact, India has been hijacked by extremists and any extreme reaction is expected at any moment. There was a time in history when India was known democratic and secular state. But, now, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, all extremist political parties and groups under the umbrella of the BJP are ruling India.

The extremist and fanatics are implementing their agenda of eliminating minorities and transforming India into a “Pure Hindu State”. Especially with Pakistan, a traditional rivalry exists and they cannot see any improvement in Pakistan. 

Pakistan was in the American club for almost Seven Decades and enjoyed very cordial relations with the Western world. Whereas India was a close ally with the former USSR. Although Pakistan was a close ally of the West, yet was facing the toughest sanctions too. However, there is a realization in Washington and a visible policy shit was witnessed recently. Pakistan always welcomes and desires the restoration of traditional friendship between the West and Pakistan.

The US claims the proposed sale to Pakistan does not include any new capabilities, weapons, or munitions, but it would be hard for New Delhi to digest such claims and remain complacent. Interestingly, the fleet of F-16s has been part of the Pakistan Air Force since the early 1980s. Pakistan has always used the US-supplied defense systems in its defense only. The F-16s in their arsenals have been no exception. In February 2019, after the Indian Air Force launched its air strike on Balakot, Pakistan came to deploy its F-16s to target Indian military bases close to the Line of Control.

Apart from Pakistan, the US has sold F-16s in many countries like Bahrain, Belgium, Egypt, Taiwan, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Thailand, Turkey, etc. However, South Asia remains a highly volatile region. The US has been sitting on the sale of F-16s to Turkey based on security concerns in the Mediterranean region, which makes the Pakistan agreement all the more intriguing.

Department of State spokesperson Ned Price has said the relationship Washington had with Pakistan “stands on its own,” responding to criticism from India over a proposed US sale of F-16 aircraft sustainment and related equipment to Islamabad.

Answering a question about Jaishankar’s comments, the state department spokesperson said on Monday Washington did not view its relations with India or Pakistan “in relation to one another.” “These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each, and we look to both as partners because we do have in many cases shared values, we do have in many cases shared interests,” Price told a briefing. “And the relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own.”

There are positive signals and it seems the traditional relations between the US and Pakistan will be restored soon. Our relations are not any threat to India or any other nation, but, for promoting regional peace, stability and development. We are partners in peace, development, and the total welfare of humankind.

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