McNair Paper 41, Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation, May 1995

Institute for National Strategic Studies


McNair Paper Number 41, Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation, May 1995

India Thwarts Israeli Destruction of Pakistan's "Islamic Bomb"

There is some evidence that Iraq was not the only nuclear peril to Israel that Begin saw in the early 1980s. Nor was the Osirak reactor in Iraq his only intended target. He also feared the Pakistani nuclear effort because Israeli intelligence had found evidence that Libya and other Moslem states were helping Pakistan, supplying both money and uranium to their effort. (Note 52) Pakistan's leader, Bhutto, was therefore under some obligation to share the nuclear fruits of Pakistan's bomb effort with other Moslem states such as Libya.

According to an Indian official, Subramaniam Swamy, a former Janata Party member, Israel in 1982 asked him to sound out other Indian leaders to see if India would grant Israeli warplanes landing and refueling rights were they to undertake an Osirak-type raid against the Kahuta nuclear reactor in Pakistan. (Note 53) India refused, probably for a combination of reasons. As one expert on South Asia speculated:

"First, the Kahuta facility is well-protected and is thus a hard target to destroy. Second and more important, India expects that any first strike by India against Kahuta would be swiftly followed by a Pakistani attack against India's nuclear facilities. Such an exchange would leave India worse off, since any potential deterrent capability against China would thereby be eliminated. Finally, India would be wary of launching such an attack against Pakistan as it would cause not only great death and destruction to Pakistan, but could blow radioactive fall-out back over India. Such an attack against Pakistan would also alienate the Muslim Middle Eastern states whose amity India has assiduously cultivated." (Note 54)

In 1991, India and Pakistan signed a treaty pledging that neither would preemptively attack the nuclear facilities of the other.

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