The Pakistani government has criticized India’s intention to purchase S-400 anti-air missile systems from Russia, and responded that Islamabad is capable of opposing the supposed threat to its security.
Earlier Delhi signed a deal with Russia to purchase what experts consider the most modern anti-missile defense systems for a price of $5.4 billion. The Indian authorities claim to be doing so in order to protect India against missile strikes from China or Pakistan.
In an official communique, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that the contract would destroy the strategic balance in the region and lead to a new arms race in South-East Asia.
According to their technical specifications, the Russian anti-air defense systems can simultaneously guide and destroy up to 36 targets, including aircraft, drones and ballistic and cruise missiles, within a radius of 400 km and up to an altitude of 30 km.
“Pakistan is still confident in its ability to oppose the threat of any destabilizing weapons systems being used,” the official Pakistani press release states, without any further explanation.
In January 2017, Islamabad announced that it had successfully tested the ground-to-ground class Ababeel ballistic missile. The missile has a range of 2,200 km, can carry a self-guided nuclear warhead, and can destroy targets with high precision.
American and European experts believe that Pakistan has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal, and that Islamabad’s own official appraisal of the situation is “deliberately false”.
The Trump Administration has expressed concern about Pakistan’s missile weaponry and growing nuclear potential.
“We are concerned about the problem of nuclear security, especially aspects such as the stockpiling of nuclear weapons and their possible leakage,” US Deputy Secretary of State Henry Ensher said at a conference in the Wilson Center in Washington.
“The new weaponry increases the risk that the conflict between India and Pakistan using regular weapons could escalate into a nuclear conflict,” Ensher observed.
Pakistani officials have drawn attention to the fact that the US is collaborating closely with India in the nuclear sphere.
Islamabad claims that its tactical nuclear arsenal is intended to prevent India from using its own large military power and from launching its own nuclear attack.
India is hoping that the US will not follow through on a law passed last year which would impose automatic sanctions on any country which collaborates with Russia’s military and intelligence sectors. Delhi and Washington have established a closer partnership due to China. The US nevertheless urged India not to sign the deal with Russia.