The Pakistan Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

How Pakistan Is Planning to Fight a Nuclear War

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.

Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.

The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.

Russia’s New Satanic Nuke

Putin’s scientists readying ‘TEXAS KILLER’ nuke that could obliterate whole countries

The RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile known in Russia asSatan 2” will be the world’s heaviest and most powerful nuclear missile when it is complete.

Satan 2 missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads with payloads of up to 20,000 kilotons – more than one thousand times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

At maximum payload a direct hit on New York would kill 4.5million people, injure 3.6million, and send radioactive fallout stretching more than 600 miles.

SHOCK: The missile has the power to take out an area the size of Texas

The “Texas Killer” is Russia’s newest nuclear missile design, and when completed will be the heaviest weapon of its kind to ever be deployed.

It can reportedly carry 10 heavy nuclear warheads and is designed to break through U.S. missile defense systems.

Last year, the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda news agency claimed Sarmat was so powerful, that a single missile could evade Washington’s defenses and wipe out the entire state of Texas.

DANGER: This missile has the potential to level several cities in one go

But, the Russian scientists in charge of developing Satan 2 have suffered a setback which means that it won’t be ready until later this year according to the Moscow Times.

Fears over all-out nuclear war are now at fever pitch after Kim Jong-un revealed that North Korea is ready to launch its most powerful nuke ever.

Donald Trump has not allayed fears by preparing to set up a missile system on the border with the secretive state.

In January it was also revealed that the US was planning a surprise nuke attack on China and Russia.

India Becomes A Nuckear Threat

India could launch ‘preemptive’ nuclear strike against Pakistan if threatened, says expert

PTI

India could launch a preemptive first strike against Pakistan if it feared a nuclear attack was imminent, reversing its well-known no-first-use policy, according to a leading nuclear strategist.

This first strike, however, will not be aimed at urban centres and conventional targets but against Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal. The strategic assessment is in clear contrast to New Delhi’s ‘no-first strike’ policy of 2003.

“There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first,” Vipin Narang, a nuclear strategist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said at a conference on nuclear policy hosted by Carnegie, a think tank, on Monday, according to the Hindustan Times.

India would launch “a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons,” Dr Narang said.

He explained that policy-makers in New Delhi decided to go for the nuclear option to ensure that “India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction”.

New Delhi declared the ‘no-first strike’ policy, undertaking not to start a nuclear war in a neighbourhood packed with nuclear actors such as China and Pakistan.

Narang said he was not basing the assessment on fringe extreme voices such as those of Bharat Karnad or retired Indian Army officers frustrated by the lack of resolve they believe their government had shown in multiple provocations.

This assessment, he said, was based on what he learned from no less than a former Strategic Forces Command C-in-C Lt Gen B.S. Nagal and from the highly respected and influential former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

“We may be witnessing … a ‘decoupling’ of Indian nuclear strategy between China and Pakistan. The force requirements India needs to credibly threaten assured retaliation against China may allow it to pursue more aggressive strategies — such as escalation dominance or a ‘splendid first strike’— against Pakistan,” Dr Narang said.

The MIT expert argued that the conventional wisdom that a nuclear war in South Asia could start with a terrorist attack from Pakistan may no longer be valid.

Relations between the neighbours are at the lowest ebb since the attack on Indian military base of Uri in occupied Kashmir last year. Following the attack, India claimed to have carried out ‘surgical strikes’ against militant launch pads in Kashmir, which were denied by the government, as well as the military.

However, in February, both countries extended a bilateral pact, dealing with reducing the risk of nuclear weapon-related accidents including a war, for a period of five years.

India Will Change Its No First Nuke Policy (Revelation 8)

India may abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear policy: Expert

Misil+India+PRITHVI-2

During the 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, Narang said, “There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first”.

WASHINGTON: India may abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear policy and launch a preemptive strike against Pakistan if it feared that Islamabad was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South Asia has claimed.

The remarks by Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before a Washington audience was though a negation of India’s stated policy of ‘no first use’.

During the 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, Narang said, “There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first”.

He said India “may” abandon the policy and launch a preemptive strike against Pakistan if it believed that Pakistan was going to use nuclear weapons or most likely the tactical nuclear weapons against it.

But, he pointed out, India’s preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan’s missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

“India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction,” Narang said.

He said this thinking surfaces not from fringe extreme voices or retired Indian Army officers frustrated by the lack of resolve they believe their government has shown in multiple provocations, but from no less than a former Commander of India’s Strategic Forces, Lt Gen BS Nagal.

It also comes perhaps more importantly and authoritatively, from the highly-respected and influential former national security adviser Shivshankar Menon in his 2016 book ‘Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy’, the nuclear strategist said.

“Serious voices, who cannot be ignored, seem to suggest that this is where India may be heading, and certainly wants to head,” Narang said.

“So our conventional understanding of South Asia’s nuclear dynamics and who, in fact, might use nuclear weapons first and in what mode may need a hard rethink given these emerging authoritative voices in India who are not content to cede the nuclear initiative to Pakistan,” he said, adding that this would mark a major shift in Indian strategy if implemented.

“In short, we may be witnessing what I call a ‘decoupling’ of Indian nuclear strategy between China and Pakistan.”

Sameer Lalwani, senior associate and deputy director South Asia at the Stimson Center, an American think-tank, said Narang’s remarks challenged the conventional wisdom of South Asia’s strategic stability problem.

Based on recent statements and writings of high-level national security officials (serving and retired), Narang argued that India may be exhibiting a “seismic shift” in its nuclear strategy from ‘no first use’ to a preemptive nuclear counterforce allowing for escalation dominance or a “splendid first strike” against Pakistan, Lalwani said.

Russia Broadens Its Nuclear Triad

Russia set to launch its most powerful nuclear sub this month

Press TV

Russia will shortly put afloat a second, nuclear-powered Yasen-class submarine — its strongest — in a northern port, a Russian defense source says.

The new vessel, dubbed Kazan, is a fourth-generation Russian submarine, and “is expected to be rolled out and put afloat on March 30,” a Russian defense source told the Moscow-based TASS news agency.

Russian media refer to the country’s fourth-generation submarines as the backbone of the Russian Navy’s strategic nuclear deterrent.

The nuclear-powered, multi-purpose Yasen-class submarines have been designed by the St. Petersburg Malakhit (Malachite) Marine Engineering Bureau. The first Project 885 submarine cruiser “Severodvinsk” was delivered to the Russian Navy in 2014.

In a separate development, US media reported that a Russian ship was seen sailing just 20 miles south of the US Navy submarine base at King’s Bay, Georgia, again.

The Viktor Leonov, an AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence) trawler, has a port call scheduled in Jamaica for mid-April, and the assumption among US officials is that it will make one more run up and down the US’s East Coast before heading to Jamaica.

The Russian trawler made a similar journey along the East Coast in February, sailing close to a US naval base in Virginia and Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut, which the Navy describes as the “Home of the Submarine Force.”

The US and Russia have been locked in a dispute over a range of issues, including most primarily the Ukrainian crisis.

Pakistan and India Approach Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

maxresdefaultIndia-Pakistan tensions and the threat of nuclear war

Shalini Chawla

For more than five decades, the strategic situation in the South Asian region continues to be dominated by the strained India-Pakistan relationship. While the intensity of the tensions between the two neighbours has varied, the current decade has witnessed escalation in tension levels, increasing mistrust and inability to communicate between the two nations.

Recently, General Joseph L Votel, Commander US Central Command, in his statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, raised concerns about the tensions between the two countries.

He said: “India remains concerned about the lack of action against India-focused militants based in Pakistan and even responded militarily to terrorist attacks in India-held territory earlier this year. We assess that these types of attacks and the potential reactions, increase the likelihood for miscalculation by both countries.”

Commenting on India’s stance on Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation, General Joseph said: “India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations. This is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers.”

General Joseph’s statement caught ample media attention which was not unexpected. No doubt, the situation in the region is risky with two nuclear states sharing a hostile relationship. The question here is: Is New Delhi expected to absorb continued terror attacks without any response?

 

The writer is a senior fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi.

Trump Expands America’s Nuclear Power

Trump budget: An extra billion dollars for nuclear weapons

by Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY

His draft 2018 budget would drastically curtail State Department spending and foreign aid and end financing for the U.S. Institute of Peace, but boost the budget for nuclear weapons production by 11 percent.

President Trump has proposed to boost federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018 while slashing or eliminating spending on many federal programs related to diplomacy, foreign aid, and social needs, in a budget proposal that reflects the first tangible expression of his defense priorities.

The $1.4 billion budget increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration amounts to just a small fraction of the overall $54 billion boost he requested over the military’s roughly $639 billion 2017 budget, but it is a proportionally higher increase (11 percent) than the Defense Department itself would get (8 percent), signaling that he and his advisers feel the U.S. nuclear weapons program deserves special treatment.

The 64-page budget document released by the White House on March 16 — and entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — contained only a few sentences about the proposal, which would give the NNSA a total of $14.3 billion in fiscal year 2018. But the blueprint said the new spending would support “the goals of moving toward a responsive nuclear infrastructure and advancing the existing program of record for warhead life extension programs.”

That language refers to an existing effort to modernize three types of warheads, so they can be deployed with bombers, submarine-launched missiles, and land-based missiles, some of which will themselves be modernized in years to come. That warhead work is well under way, although the budget document suggested it had been slowed by Obama-era defense spending caps. Some independent experts have cautioned, however, that the speed of the work is limited mostly by its sheer complexity, rather than by fund shortages, and expressed doubt that it could be accelerated.

Trump’s budget proposal also says the additional NNSA funds would address its “critical infrastructure maintenance” needs — which is Washington-speak for everything from laboratories and test tracks to office buildings — which NNSA director Frank Klotz has pegged in public statements at roughly $3.7 billion. That tally includes both nuclear weapons-related work and nonnuclear work related to the cleanup of wastes from past weapons production activities.

Much of the agency’s infrastructure is “antiquated,” having been built during the Cold War, Klotz told a well-timed hearing before the House Armed Services Committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee just a few hours after the proposed budget was released. “NNSA is presently busier than we have been for many, many years” but “operations are subject to increasing risk” due to spending shortfalls.

When Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) asked Klotz to provide more detail about how the new funds would be expended, however, he declined to answer. In a written statement, the Department of Energy — of which the NNSA is a part — said the current proposal represents only an overview, and that further details will be divulged in May.

Many in Washington say that Congress is unlikely to approve Trump’s budget. Nonetheless, the special status Trump has assigned to nuclear weapons work is exemplified by the fact that even as the NNSA’s budget would expand under his proposal, the rest of the Energy Department’s budget would decline by around 20 percent, or $1.7 billion.

Gone would be the department’s weatherization, gas mileage, and clean energy programs. The Office of Science, which supports research into new technologies and basic physics as well as climate change, would be cut by nearly twenty percent. Elsewhere in the government, the State Department would get a 28 percent budget cut, funds for U.N. peacekeeping would be scaled back, humanitarian aid would be focused on fewer nations, and all federal spending for the U.S. Institute of Peace would disappear.

The current U.S. nuclear weapons modernization program, which was initiated and strongly supported by former President Obama, was already estimated to cost $1 trillion or more over the next three decades. But Trump, in a Dec. 22 tweet, said “the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” — implying that this should be beyond what Obama had set in motion.

As if to hammer that point home, Trump on March 16 also announced the appointment to the position of Pentagon policy chief of a defense analyst who helped write a new U.S. nuclear policy in 2001 that supported research on new types of nuclear warheads. The policy, overseen in part by Trump nominee David J. Trachtenberg, a former Pentagon deputy assistant secretary under President George W. Bush, also downplayed the significance of arms control, and supported an expansion of U.S. ballistic missile defense programs.

In Feb. 2013, Trachtenberg joined other conservative analysts in sending a letter to Obama that urged the president to withdraw his public pledge to pursue the global elimination of nuclear weapons. This agenda, the letter said, would “only result in the unilateral disarmament of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.” It also urged Obama not to endorse further cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal, arguing that such a move would “put our country, its allies, and our peoples at ever-greater risk.” Trachtenberg separately has criticized Obama’s nuclear policy for ruling out “new nuclear weapons, missions or capabilities.”

Trump’s budget document says his choices demonstrate “the Administration’s strong support for the United States’ nuclear security enterprise and [it] ensures that we have a nuclear force that is second to none.”

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group based in Washington, said the budget choices Trump has made will send “a signal that will worry our erstwhile adversaries, Russia, China.” But it will also puzzle our allies, Kimball said, because “they recognize American diplomacy is critical to their security.”

The Center for Public Integrity is a non-profit, independent investigative news outlet. A list of its funders can be found here. For more of its stories on this topic go to publicintegrity.org.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Terrorism

Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal Could Easily Become a Hazard

By Lisa Curtis | March 15, 2017 | 9:37 AM EDT

(AP Photo/AP of Pakistan, HO)

Michael Krepon, co-founder of the U.S.-based Stimson Center, whose views are widely respected both in South Asia and in Washington, has written a thought-provoking piece on the future of U.S. policy toward Pakistan.

In the article, Krepon argues in favor of a status quo U.S. policy toward Pakistan that relies solely on inducements and engagement, rather than exerting pressure on Pakistan.

Krepon acknowledges that this policy approach has been ineffective in convincing Pakistan to crack down on some terrorist groups that endanger core U.S. national security interests in the region. Nonetheless, he argues for a status quo policy that does not levy consequences on Pakistan for continued support to international terrorist groups.

Krepon’s main reason rests largely on the idea that the nuclear issue is more important than the terrorism issue. Krepon seems to believe that if the U.S. penalizes Pakistan for its continued support for some terrorist groups, the U.S. will lose leverage over Pakistan in keeping its nuclear weapons safe and secure.

Krepon also argues that “the future of Pakistan is more important to the United States than the future of Afghanistan.”

Both of these assertions rely on false choices and confuse the problem at hand.

One of the primary U.S. concerns regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is the danger that they could fall into terrorist hands. A second concern is that Pakistan would use its nuclear weapons in a potential conflict with India.

Additionally, if the Taliban make further territorial gains in Afghanistan—aided by having a sanctuary inside Pakistan—this will facilitate the revival of al-Qaeda in the region and boost the morale of Islamist extremists across the globe.

These are three potentially very dangerous scenarios that the U.S. must work to prevent. Putting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist groups within its territory is key to making sure these scenarios don’t come to pass.

Appeasement Will Not Work

Krepon’s status quo policy would likely lead to the growth of anti-India terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which conducted the 2008 Mumbai attacks that nearly led to military conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Moreover, U.S. acquiescence to Pakistan’s continued support for some terrorist groups would allow an overall conducive environment for terrorism to thrive in the country—something that puts Pakistan’s long-term stability at risk.

It is precisely because of these dangers—the threat of an Indo-Pakistani conflict that could go nuclear, the potential nexus between terror and nuclear weapons, instability of the Pakistani state from the blowback of supporting terrorism, and the need to stabilize Afghanistan—that the U.S. must adopt a more pointed policy approach with Islamabad.

This line of reasoning is spelled out in a report that I drafted with former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani and with input from several other U.S.-based Pakistan experts.

The report recommends the Trump administration take a sharper, more clear-eyed policy approach toward Pakistan that includes consequences for Pakistani failure to rein in terror groups that threaten stability in Afghanistan, as well as raise tensions with India. Consequences should include things like enforcing conditions on military aid and revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

The report stops short of recommending that the U.S. declare Pakistan to be a state sponsor of terrorism this year—though it recommends keeping that option open for the future.

I have stated my personal opposition to doing this on numerous occasions. Designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism would preclude the U.S. from providing any kind of aid to Pakistan and would lead to an irreparable breach in the relationship.

While tightening U.S. counterterrorism policies toward Pakistan is necessary, it’s also not in the U.S. interest to make an enemy out of Pakistan.

Our report revolves around the notion that evoking change in Pakistani terrorism policies is desirable not only for U.S. security objectives, but also for the sake of Pakistan’s own future.

Contrary to what Krepon’s article suggests, raising the bar on the Pakistanis is not an effort to stigmatize them. Krepon’s article wrongly suggests that any policy other than the status quo amounts to disengaging with Pakistan.

Krepon’s argument seems to be that the U.S. should allow Pakistan to continue support for some terror groups and wait patiently until Pakistan itself realizes the cost of its dangerous behavior through what he calls a “clarifying process.”

The Path to Stability

But the risks in the region are too acute and immediate to wait patiently and assume that Pakistan will eventually change its policies without incurring some international cost. Pressure from the United States is needed.

At the same time, the Trump administration should both publicly and privately maintain avenues for Pakistan to become a U.S. ally in the future. As we state in the report:

“Were Pakistan to cease its current tolerance of and support to terrorist groups, one can envisage grounds for common interest and policies on a range of issues that would form the basis of mutual interest. This could involve a package of trade and investment cooperation that would be mutually win-win for the economies of the United States and Pakistan.”

Far from stigmatizing Pakistan or proposing a witch hunt, our report provides a sound and practical way forward for improving the prospects for stability in the region, reducing global terrorist threats, and providing the basis for a stronger U.S.-Pakistan partnership over the long term.

Lisa Curtis analyzes America’s economic, security and political relationships with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other nations of South Asia as a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.

Strengthening the Russian Nuclear Horn

Russia’s Most Powerful Nuclear Attack Submarine Ever Is Almost Ready for Sea

Dave Majumdar
March 15, 2017

Russia is set to launch its second Yasen-class nuclear-powered attack submarine on March 30. Called Kazan, the new vessel is an upgraded Project 885M design that is in many ways much more capable than the lead ship of the class, K-560 Severodvinsk.

“Kazan is expected to be rolled out and put afloat on March 30,” a Russian defense source told the Moscow-based TASS news agency.

The Russian Navy will take delivery of Kazan in 2018. Once the vessel is operational, she will be the most formidable enemy submarine that the U.S. Navy has ever faced. “It’s probably the most capable nuclear powered submarine out there fielded by a potential adversary,” Center for Naval Analyses Russian military affairs specialist Michael Kofman told The National Interest.

Indeed, Kazan is expected to be substantially improved over her older sister, the Severodvinsk. The vessel incorporates new technological developments that have emerged since Severodvinsk started construction in 1993. Kazan also incorporates lessons learned from testing the older vessel.

“The 885M is really the first ship of the class,” Kofman said. “The 885M is intended as a substantial improvement, based on the lessons learned from the lengthy development, construction, and testing process for the original 885.”

The Project 885 vessels are a departure from previous Soviet and Russian submarine designs. Unlike older Soviet vessels, the Project 885 submarines are multimission boats similar in concept to American vessels like the Seawolf or Virginia-classes.

“[Severodvinsk] is Russia’s first truly multipurpose submarine,” Michael Kofman and Norman Polmar wrote in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings journal. “The Severodvinsk is capable of antisubmarine, antiship, and land-attack missions. Among the more interesting features are a large bow sonar dome for the Irtysh-Amfora sonar system and an amidships battery of eight vertical-launch cells that can carry 32 Kalibr (SS-N-27/30 Sizzler) or Oniks (SS-N-26 Strobile) cruise missiles. These antiship and land-attack weapons are particularly significant after Russian surface ships and submarines fired long-range mis­siles into Syria in 2016.”

Russia plans to build a total of seven Project 885M submarines—Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Arkhangelsk and Perm are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyards on the White Sea port city of Severodvinsk.

Meanwhile, Russia is planning on developing a follow-on class of attack submarine that would hunt U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarines. According to the authors of that article, “Now in development is a new Russian ‘hunter-killer’ submarine. This SSN will have the primary role of countering Western SSBNs. The new SSN is probably a significant program, but very little is known about it other than construction is slated to begin in the near future.”

The Russians undoubted have the technical skills to develop an extremely formidable new class of attack submarines. The question is does the Kremlin have the financial wherewithal to fund another expensive new defense project.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Pakistani Nuclear Hazard

COMMENTARY BY

Michael Krepon, co-founder of the U.S.-based Stimson Center, whose views are widely respected both in South Asia and in Washington, has written a thought-provoking piece on the future of U.S. policy toward Pakistan.

In the article, Krepon argues in favor of a status quo U.S. policy toward Pakistan that relies solely on inducements and engagement, rather than exerting pressure on Pakistan.

Krepon acknowledges that this policy approach has been ineffective in convincing Pakistan to crack down on some terrorist groups that endanger core U.S. national security interests in the region. Nonetheless, he argues for a status quo policy that does not levy consequences on Pakistan for continued support to international terrorist groups.

Krepon’s main reason rests largely on the idea that the nuclear issue is more important than the terrorism issue. Krepon seems to believe that if the U.S. penalizes Pakistan for its continued support for some terrorist groups, the U.S. will lose leverage over Pakistan in keeping its nuclear weapons safe and secure.

One of the primary U.S. concerns regarding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is the danger that they could fall into terrorist hands. A second concern is that Pakistan would use its nuclear weapons in a potential conflict with India.

Additionally, if the Taliban make further territorial gains in Afghanistan—aided by having a sanctuary inside Pakistan—this will facilitate the revival of al-Qaeda in the region and boost the morale of Islamist extremists across the globe.

These are three potentially very dangerous scenarios that the U.S. must work to prevent. Putting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist groups within its territory is key to making sure these scenarios don’t come to pass.

Appeasement Will Not Work

Krepon’s status quo policy would likely lead to the growth of anti-India terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which conducted the 2008 Mumbai attacks that nearly led to military conflict between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

Moreover, U.S. acquiescence to Pakistan’s continued support for some terrorist groups would allow an overall conducive environment for terrorism to thrive in the country—something that puts Pakistan’s long-term stability at risk.

It is precisely because of these dangers—the threat of an Indo-Pakistani conflict that could go nuclear, the potential nexus between terror and nuclear weapons, instability of the Pakistani state from the blowback of supporting terrorism, and the need to stabilize Afghanistan—that the U.S. must adopt a more pointed policy approach with Islamabad.

This line of reasoning is spelled out in a report that I drafted with former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani and with input from several other U.S.-based Pakistan experts.

The report recommends the Trump administration take a sharper, more clear-eyed policy approach toward Pakistan that includes consequences for Pakistani failure to rein in terror groups that threaten stability in Afghanistan, as well as raise tensions with India. Consequences should include things like enforcing conditions on military aid and revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

The report stops short of recommending that the U.S. declare Pakistan to be a state sponsor of terrorism this year—though it recommends keeping that option open for the future.

I have stated my personal opposition to doing this on numerous occasions. Designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism would preclude the U.S. from providing any kind of aid to Pakistan and would lead to an irreparable breach in the relationship.

While tightening U.S. counterterrorism policies toward Pakistan is necessary, it’s also not in the U.S. interest to make an enemy out of Pakistan.

Our report revolves around the notion that evoking change in Pakistani terrorism policies is desirable not only for U.S. security objectives, but also for the sake of Pakistan’s own future.

Contrary to what Krepon’s article suggests, raising the bar on the Pakistanis is not an effort to stigmatize them. Krepon’s article wrongly suggests that any policy other than the status quo amounts to disengaging with Pakistan.

Krepon’s argument seems to be that the U.S. should allow Pakistan to continue support for some terror groups and wait patiently until Pakistan itself realizes the cost of its dangerous behavior through what he calls a “clarifying process.”

The Path to Stability

But the risks in the region are too acute and immediate to wait patiently and assume that Pakistan will eventually change its policies without incurring some international cost. Pressure from the United States is needed.

At the same time, the Trump administration should both publicly and privately maintain avenues for Pakistan to become a U.S. ally in the future. As we state in the report:

Were Pakistan to cease its current tolerance of and support to terrorist groups, one can envisage grounds for common interest and policies on a range of issues that would form the basis of mutual interest. This could involve a package of trade and investment cooperation that would be mutually win-win for the economies of the United States and Pakistan.
Far from stigmatizing Pakistan or proposing a witch hunt, our report provides a sound and practical way forward for improving the prospects for stability in the region, reducing global terrorist threats, and providing the basis for a stronger U.S.-Pakistan partnership over the long term.