Missiles (Nukes) in ‘Conflict Region’: So. Asia, Mideast

Pakistan’s missile arsenal forms an important part of its defense strategy for offsetting the significant conventional military advantages of its main rival, India. The country’s combined strategic forces allows it to target almost any point in India, and is now working more advanced technology to complicate developing Indian missile defense efforts.

“Our defensive capability is meant to take care of our immediate concerns. The birds can fly long distances though, but a conscious restraint has been the policy to avoid ruffling unnecessary feathers,” says a senior military official on condition of anonymity as he’s not authorized to comment officially.

India’s ballistic missile arsenal is a means to deliver nuclear weapons to deter both Pakistan and China. This has pushed India to develop longer range missiles and to diversify its delivery platforms beyond mobile land-based missiles. As their missile arsenal develops, doubts grow about how firmly they will hew to the minimum deterrence doctrine.

Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, –a potent tool for Iranian power projection and a credible threat to U.S. and partner military forces in the region.

The entire Middle East is a conflict zone, several regional experts say. This is fueling arms race in the region, a Pakistani defense official based in the Middle East told DesPardes earlier.

According to reports, arms sales have increased dramatically under President Trump’s watch, with Saudi Arabia as a top customer. Exports of major arms from the US grew by 23% in comparing the periods 2010–14 and 2015–19.

President Trump on Monday accused military leadership of perpetuating wars to boost profits for arms manufacturers, but his administration has made expanding arms sales a top priority throughout his tenure — exacerbating devastating conflicts in the process. 

In 2019, global defense spending saw its biggest jump in a decade. Rivalries and conflicts are stoking military investment in the region and worldwide.

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said the four percent rise, compared to a year earlier, was fueled by competition between major powers, new military technologies and rumbling warfare.

Israel has one of the most technologically advanced missile arsenals in the Middle East. Despite not officially acknowledging any nuclear program, it is widely believed that Israel does possess nuclear weapons.

With Iraq’s and Syria’s nuke installations struck and destroyed secretively by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), who else in the wider region is a threat to its security?

IDF wants to “ensure the military maintains a constant and significant edge over its foes, notably Iran and Hezbollah”.

Israel now has new fifth-generation planes, namely the F-35 stealth fighter jet, which it purchased from the United States –to make its military better equipped to operate in the types of operations that it is expected to face in the coming years.

Israel wants to maintain qualitative military edge in the region.

Commenting on Israel’s threat perception, a senior Pakistani defense official said earlier, “Israeli threat of military action against all such facilities deemed detrimental to its security will remain real”.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment officially.

Pakistan does not recognize Israel. It stands for Palestinians’ rights to be recognized and settled first. The country’s main rival, India recognizes Israel –both are US allies.

Commenting on US-Israel relations and latter’s military and nuclear capabilities, an Asia-Pacific based geopolitical analyst tells DesPardes that Israel is effectively an autonomous 51st state of the USA. According to the analyst, “Israel’s ability to shape US regional policy exceeds that of any other allies”.

Under US law, any arms sales in the Middle East must take Israel’s qualitative military edge into account.

The protection afforded by the USA renders Israel an untouchable actor on world stage, says the analyst. “Its nukes and missiles are the spearheads of that symbiotic relationship.”