What are Tactical Nuclear Weapons that Pak minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad was referring to?
New Delhi, Sep 03: Ever since India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir's special status, Pakistani leaders have gone on a verbal rampage which can at best be called 'War Mongering'. Pakistan Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, a few days ago, said that he can foresee an India-Pakistan war by October. Ahmed on Monday spoke about "small 125-250-gram atom bombs" that Pakistan has. What exactly was he talking about, and is it true?
He was referring to Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNW) which Pakistan has developed to be used in battle situations. Pakistan keeps threatening India with tactical nuclear weapons and Islamabad has on various occasions said that it would not hesitate to use them if Indian forces attempt to enter its territory. Pakistan knows it very well that it cannot match India in conventional warfare and to counter this it has developed tactical nuclear weapons. Tactical nukes are complex to make and it is obvious where Pakistan got help from to manufacture these deadly battlefield weapons.
Defence and strategic matters expert Major General P K Sehgal once told OneIndia that Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons primarily to deal with what is called as India's cold start doctrine. He said that Pakistan cannot match up with India in conventional warfare and hence they have developed tactical nuclear weapons.
A tactical nuclear weapon (TNW), also called non-strategic nuclear weapon, is a weapon that is generally smaller in its explosive power. It is designed to be used in battlefield situations, in contrast to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to be mostly targeted in the enemy interior away from the war front. Tactical nuclear weapons are of the range of 20-60 km with a blast radius of 3-5 km. These are developed to be used as a deterrent against aggression on the border and not for a full-fledged war.
Tactical nuclear weapons can be of several forms, they could in the form mines known as ADMs, they could be in the form of artillery shells, could be in the form of missiles, they could be in the form of bombs. They are meant to be used against advancing forces and not places. Tactical nuclear weapons are meant to be deployed essentially in the battle filed, Major General Sehgal explained.
Pakistan claims that its short-range missile NASR can carry nuclear warheads of low yield with high accuracy. Pakistan has also claimed that it has been designed to overcome missile defence systems. Hypothetically speaking, if Indian Forces do enter Pakistan's territory and Islamabad does indeed use tactical nukes then it would also be risking the lives of its own civilians as the device would detonate in Pakistani soil.
Does India have tactical nuclear weapons?
"We have not developed any tactical nuclear weapon for the simple reason that we do not feel that any country has the capacity to do what Pakistan visualises that India could do to them. India has never threatened any country historically, nor do we threaten Pakistan in any manner. If Pakistan provokes us, then India would react through cold start launch doctrine and Pakistan is worried about that. India does not have it to the best of my knowledge, because we do not need it," the Defence Expert further said.
India's possible retaliation:
Once Pakistan uses a nuclear weapon in any form, Indian retaliation would be unimaginable as New Delhi will not be bound by 'No First Use' policy. India had declared 'No First Use' (NFU) as a policy; Pakistan is averse to it and feels that NFU in principle negates its deterrence advantage against India. Pakistan's nuclear weapons are intended to compensate for conventional forces which are largely believed to be lagging behind India.
What Pakistan must keep in mind is that India has fairly developed secondary strike capability. India has ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead that can be launched from submarines in short notice. Pakistan can rest assured that any use of nukes- tactical or strategic - the retribution will be swift, severe and devastating threatening its very existence.