India and Pakistan exchanged a list of their nuclear installations with each other. This annual exchange of the lists is part of an agreement between the two nuclear-armed neighbours meant to prevent attacks on nuclear facilities by each other.
“India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the list of nuclear installations and facilities,” read a statement on the exchange released by the Minister of External Affairs.
“This is the twenty seventh consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on 1st January, 1992,” the statement added.
The exchange is done each year on January 1, under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities, also referred to as the Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement.
The agreement was signed in 1988 by Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto in 1988. Neither nation had nuclear weapons at the time, but had nuclear power plants and other research facilities that were seen as crucial to the growth and development of the respective countries.
The need for the agreement had been felt against the backdrop of Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak reactor near Baghdad. The strike, carried out by Israeli fighter jets over hostile airspace, had set Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme significantly.
The agreement had also come at a time of deep anxiety for Pakistan. Islamabad had been rattled by the memory of the 1972 defeat which dismembered the country, and military developments in India, such as Operation Brasstacks in 1987, which was a wargame exercise to prepare for deep strike offensive capabilities.
Pakistan had at the time responded by putting at its nuclear installations and assets on ‘high alert’.