CIA warns of nuclear war in south Asia : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

http://"">CIA warns of nuclear war, instability in south Asia Monday, 22 January 2001 18:42 (ET) By ANWAR IQBAL

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The CIA has warned in a new report that economic disparities and political instability could cause another war between India and Pakistan, exposing southern Asia to the threat of a nuclear conflict.

India and Pakistan are the world's two newest states which openly possess nuclear weapons. Both countries tested atomic devices in May 1998, beginning a new stage of their nuclear race in one of the world's most-populated regions.

In its Global Trends 2015 report, the Central Intelligence Agency says that "India most likely will expand the size of its nuclear-capable force. And a noticeable increase in the size of India's arsenal would prompt Pakistan to further increase the size of its own arsenal."

Since 1998, India and Pakistan have also tested several types of ballistic missiles in their quest to acquire a dependable weapons delivery system.

The CIA believes that "India will be the unrivalled regional power with a large military, including naval and nuclear capabilities and a dynamic and growing economy. The widening India-Pakistan gap, destabilizing in its own right, will be accompanied by deep political, economic and social disparities within both states."

The agency also states that, being wary of China, "India will look increasingly to the West, but its need for oil and desire to balance Arab ties to Pakistan will lead to strengthened ties to Persian Gulf states as well."

Giving its projections on Pakistan's economic woes, the report said: "Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive politics, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction. Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties.

"Further domestic decline would benefit Islamic political activists, who may significantly increase their role in national politics and alter the makeup and cohesion of the military, once Pakistan's most capable institution. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the central government's control will probably be reduced to the Punjab heartland and the economic hub of Karachi."

Pakistan will be more fractious, isolated and dependent on international financial assistance, the report said.

In assessing the security situation in the region, the CIA said that "continued turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan will spill over into Kashmir and other areas of the subcontinent, prompting Indian leaders to take more aggressive preemptive and retaliatory actions. India's conventional military advantage over Pakistan will widen as a result of New Delhi's superior economic position.

"India will also continue to build up its ocean-going navy to dominate the Indian Ocean transit routes used for delivery of Persian Gulf oil to Asia. The decisive shift in conventional military power in India's favor over the coming years potentially will make the region more volatile and unstable," the report said. "Both India and Pakistan will see weapons of mass destruction as a strategic imperative and will continue to amass nuclear warheads and build a variety of missile delivery systems. The changing dynamics of state power will combine with other factors to affect the risk of conflict in various regions. Changing military capabilities will be prominent among the factors that determine the risk of war.

"In South Asia, for example, that risk will remain fairly high over the next 15 years. India and Pakistan are both prone to miscalculation. Both will continue to build up their nuclear and missile forces," it said. The report adds that, "although population growth rates in South Asia will decline, population still will grow by nearly 30 percent by 2015. India's population alone will grow to more than 1.2 billion.

"Pakistan's projected growth from 140 million to about 195 million in 2015 will put a major strain on an economy already unable to meet the basic needs of the current population. The percentage of urban dwellers will climb steadily from the current 25-30 percent of the population to between 40-50 percent, leading to continued deterioration in the overall quality of urban life. Differential population growth patterns will exacerbate inequalities in wealth. Ties between provincial and central governments throughout the region will be strained."

"Water will remain South Asia's most vital and most contested natural resource. Continued population and economic growth and expansion of irrigated agriculture over the next 15 years will increasingly stress water resources, and pollution of surface and groundwater will be a serious challenge, the report said.

"In India, per capita water availability is likely to drop by 50-75 percent. Because many of the region's waterways are interstate, water could become a source of renewed friction. Deforestation in India and Nepal will exacerbate pollution, flooding, and land degradation in Bangladesh."

"Indian democracy will remain strong, albeit more factionalized by the secular-Hindu nationalist debate, growing differentials among regions and the increase in competitive party politics. India's economy, long repressed by the heavy hand of regulation, is likely to achieve sustained growth to the degree reforms are implemented."

The report predicted that high-technology companies would be the most dynamic agents and would "lead the thriving service sector." -- Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved. --

-- robert waldrop (, January 23, 2001

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