The US is concerned over Pakistan’s fast-expanding stockpile of nuclear weapons which in combine with evolving doctrine increases the risk of an “accident”, a top pentagon official has said.
“Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile continues to grow. We are concerned that this growth, as well as the evolving doctrine associated with tactical nuclear weapons, increases the risk of an incident or accident,” Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director of Defense Intelligence Agency told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing.
“Islamabad continues to take steps to improve its nuclear security, and is aware of the threat presented by extremists to its programme,” Stewart said during his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Worldwide Threats.
Pakistan will face internal security threats from militant, sectarian and separatist groups this year, he said, adding that ISIS in Khorasan and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent will also remain significant security concerns for Islamabad.
Counterinsurgency operations along Pakistan’s Western border and paramilitary operations in Karachi have had some success in reducing violence and are likely to continue, he said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan subsided in late last year following high-level diplomatic engagement and an agreement to continue the talks next year, he added.
However, there remains a significant risk that tensions could once again escalate with little warning, particularly if there is a large-scale terrorist attack in India, Stewart said.
Pakistan has ruled out any change in its “dynamic” policy of increasing its nuclear weapons, dismissing the US’ request in this regard citing India’s rapid military modernisation.
Our nuclear capacity is a deterrent against Indian capacity. Deterrent is not a static concept. It is a dynamic concept. If your adversary goes on expanding its capacity, then you have to respond. It is not something that you can take something for granted,” Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs advisor to Pakistan’s prime minister said yesterday.