An Aesopian nuclear competition is under way between Pakistan and India. Pakistan, whose economy and domestic cohesion are steadily worsening, is the hare, racing to devote scarce resources to compete with a country whose economy is nine times as great. India is the tortoise: Its nuclear program is moving steadily forward without great exertion.
The tortoise will win this race, and could quicken its pace. But the hare continues to run fast, because nuclear weapons are a sign of strength amid domestic weaknesses and because it can’t keep up with the growth of India’s conventional military programs.
At present, there is rough nuclear parity between India and Pakistan, with Pakistan having a larger arsenal and India having more advanced air- and sea-based capabilities. Both countries are expanding their capacity to produce bomb-making material, adding cruise missiles to their arsenals and planning to send nuclear weapons to sea. Pakistan’s arsenal now exceeds 100 warheads. India is not too far behind.
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This op-ed was first published on April 4, 2013 in the global edition of the New York Times.
Photo credit:Antônio Milena via Wikimedia Commons