The people who assess the risks of nuclear war spend a lot of time casting bones and reading entrails. Right now they warn that Pakistan is seen readying to "cross the nuclear threshold."
Pakistan's test launch last month of a new short-range ballistic missile, when added to its quickly growing arsenal of lower-power nuclear weapons, indicates the South Asian country is seriously readying to use its nuclear deterrent should war break out again with India, the Times of India reported on Sunday.
Federation of American Scientists Nuclear Information Project Director Hans Kristensen said the nuclear-capable Hatf 9 missile appears to be designed to attack an invading force of Indian soldiers.
"While that wouldn't threaten Indian survival in itself, it would of course mean crossing the nuclear threshold early in a conflict, which is one of the particular concerns of a short-range nuclear weapon," Kristensen said.
Concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and whether such weapons could fall into terrorist hands are not going away. Part of Pakistan's nuclear strategy entails regularly moving its warheads to reduce their vulnerability to a potential Indian first strike. Observers say this regular movement increases the possibility of a terrorist attack something that was shown viable by the recent attack on a Pakistani naval station.