Commentary: Pakistan’s Nasr/Hatf-IX Missile: Challenges for Indo-Pak Deterrence
Strategic Analysis, Vol. 38, No. 4, July 2014, pp. 444-448.
Arun Vishwanathan, Assistant Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies
On November 5, 2013 Pakistan conducted its fourth test of the Hatf-IX (Nasr) short range battlefield ‘nuclear’ missile. To date there have been four flight tests of the missile system. After the first three tests (April 19, 2011, May 29, 2012 and February 11, 2013) Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) had put out identical press releases. These statements claimed that the missile had a range of 60km and carried ‘nuclear warheads (sic) of appropriate yield’. The ISPR statement following the fourth flight test of Nasr, a salvo firing of four missiles, was worded differently and did not repeat the claim that Nasr carried a nuclear warhead. Curiously, it referred to the missile’s nuclear capability in a roundabout sort of way. The statement claimed that the missile ‘contributes to the full spectrum deterrence against threats in view of evolving scenarios’.
This then begets three questions. First, what is Pakistan trying to signal by way of the Nasr and what is the significance of the change in wording of the ISPR statement following the fourth Nasr test flight? Secondly, can Pakistan actually fit a nuclear warhead into the Nasr? Thirdly, how credible would Nasr be in Indian eyes and how will it impact the Indo-Pak deterrence relationship.