David Albright and team have released yet another satellite photograph.
Pakistan has begun building what independent analysts say is a powerful new reactor for producing plutonium, a move that, if verified, would signal a major expansion of the country’s nuclear weapons capabilities and a potential new escalation in the region’s arms race.
“If there’s an increasing risk of an arms race in South Asia, why hasn’t this already been introduced into the debate?” Albright asked. He said the Pakistani development adds urgency to calls for a treaty halting the production of fissile material used in nuclear weapons.
“The United States needs to push more aggressively for a fissile material cut-off treaty, and so far it has not,” he said.[WP]
The logic goes somewhat like this: More nuclear weapons components in Pakistani hands is bad, for it can fall into the hands of some unsavoury characters. But Pakistan will produce more nuclear stuff as long as India does. It’s a South Asian arms race, you see. So all right thinking people should force India to stop stockpiling fissile material.
So what’s wrong with this? The chain of reasoning stops too soon. India stockpiles materials because it has, in addition to Pakistan, its eyes on China too, which has a much bigger stockpile than India’s. It’s an Asian arms race, you see. So all right thinking people should force China take much of its fissile material out of circulation. But then again, the chain of reasoning can’t stop here. China, for its part, has its eyes on America’s nuclear weapons, what with its recent claims of nuclear superiority. It’s a global arms race, you see. So those right thinking people should now direct their attention at reducing American nuclear weapons stockpile. Fat chance?
Update: The Arms Control Wonk reckons that Albright had some inside help.