The former US Secretary of State said in his book that Washington’s timely intervention prevented the increase.
India and Pakistan came close to nuclear war in 2019 and Washington’s intervention prevented escalation, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a new statement.
This happened in February 2019 after New Delhi launched a terrorist attack on Pakistani territory after it blamed the local army for a bomb blast that killed 41 Indian soldiers in the Kashmir region. In response to the attack, Islamabad shot down an Indian fighter jet, capturing the pilot.
“I don’t think the world fully knows how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to a nuclear explosion in February 2019,” Pompeo said in Never Give an Inch, his memoir published Tuesday about his time as Donald Trump’s chief of staff. ambassador and previously as CIA director.
Pompeo, who was in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said he was awakened to speak with his then Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
“He believes that the Pakistanis will begin to prepare their nuclear weapons for destruction. India, he told me, is thinking about its expansion,” wrote Pompeo.
“I asked him to do nothing and give us a minute to fix it,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said he immediately began working with then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who was also in Hanoi and spoke with “the real leader of Pakistan”, then-Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“As can be expected, they believed that the Indians were preparing their nuclear weapons for deployment. It took us several hours – and the best work of our teams in New Delhi and Islamabad – to convince each side that the other was not preparing for nuclear war,” he added.
“No other country could have done what we did that night to avoid the consequences,” Pompeo wrote.
Pakistan and India are two of the few countries that have nuclear weapons.
In 1974, India became the first country in the region to acquire nuclear weapons, prompting Islamabad to follow suit. In the 1980s, when it joined the US in the first Afghan war against the then-collapsed Soviet Union, Pakistan quietly developed its nuclear capabilities.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India currently has between 80 and 100 nuclear weapons, while Pakistan has between 90 and 110.
Meanwhile, many think tanks around the world expect Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal to exceed 200 nuclear weapons in the next five years.