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Pakistan Enhances Range of Controversial ‘Tactical’ Nuclear Weapon

Pakistani-made NASR missiles are on display during a military parade to mark Pakistan's Republic Day, in Islamabad, March 23, 2017.

Pakistan’s military announced Wednesday that it has successfully undertaken a series of flight tests of its battlefield nuclear-capable NASR missile this week, enhancing the rocket’s flight maneuverability and extending its range to 70 kilometers from 60.

“This weapon system will augment credible deterrence against prevailing threat spectrum more effectively, including anti-missile defenses. NASR is a high precision weapon system with the ability of quick deployments,” the Pakistan army’s media wing said when it released details of the flight testing process.

The development of Pakistani tactical nuclear weapons is a source of concern for the United States because their smaller size increases the risk of a nuclear conflict with rival India, non-proliferation experts say.

Pakistani officials say that smaller weapons would deter their bigger neighbor from imposing a sudden, limited and lightning assault with conventional forces under New Delhi’s “Cold Start” doctrine.

Pakistan army Chief General Qammmar Javed Bajwa, who has witnessed the Nasr flight tests, referred to the Indian doctrine.

"Nasr has put cold water on Cold Start. War must be avoided at all costs and our strategic capability is a guarantee of peace against a highly militarized and increasingly belligerent neighbor,” the army statement quoted Bajwa as saying.

“Our [nuclear] capability is only meant to ensure, no one thinks war remains an option,” the general said.

Pakistan’s relations with India have deteriorated in recent years and military clashes along the disputed Kashmir border have lately become routine.

The disputed Himalayan region has triggered two of the three wars between India and Pakistan and it remains the primary source of regional tensions.