A Brief History
On January 20, 1972, Pakistan started a nuclear weapons development program in a bid to become the first Islamic country to possess a nuclear bomb. Coming on the heels of embarrassing losses in the Liberation War for Bangladesh (aka East Pakistan), and then failure in the 1971 war with India, Pakistan vowed to have a nuclear weapon by 1976.
Although Pakistan missed their timeline goals, by 1998 Pakistan became the first Islamic majority country to possess a viable nuclear weapon, and the 7th country to officially possess nuclear weapons (after the US, UK, USSR, France, China, and India). Now that North Korea is recognized as having nuclear weapons, the world total nuclear armed states is now 8, with Israel being an unofficial 9th. South Africa may have possessed nuclear weapons during the apartheid era, but is no longer believed to possess such bombs.
Pakistan strongly felt the need for nuclear weapons largely because of their arch enemy, India, having a stockpile of 90 to 100 such bombs. Pakistan now possesses a stockpile of 100-120 nuclear weapons. (The US and Russia have over 7000 nuclear weapons apiece, while China possesses about 260 nuclear warheads.)
Despite Israeli and Western fears that an “Islamic Bomb” in the hands of a Muslim state, or in the hands of Muslims anywhere, would represent a clear and present danger to the US, Israel and the Western world, the Pakistani military has so far kept their nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and lunatics, and the Western countries have not (yet) been compelled to make a preemptive strike to destroy those weapons. The US supposedly has an agreement with the secular government of Pakistan to have a contingency force of US commandos secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal in the event of reactionaries taking control of Pakistan.
The delivery of Pakistani nuclear weapons would most likely be by medium range ballistic missiles to target Indian locations in the event of conflict with that country. An alternate method that could potentially give Pakistan a longer reach would be to deliver nuclear weapons by airplane, and the Pakistani Navy is believed to be in development of a nuclear powered submarine that could launch nuclear weapons, mainly in response to India fielding such a system.
Question for students (and subscribers): Does the proliferation of nuclear weapons make the world a more dangerous place, or does the fact that a potential enemy might nuke you back keep you from nuking them in the first place? Remember, the only time nukes were used for real was when only the US had the terrible bombs. Once the USSR became nuclear armed, the prospect of nuclear war became less palatable. Should Japan, South Korea and Germany have nukes, as President-elect Trump has suggested? Let us know what you think about nuclear proliferation in the comments section below this article.
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