(Analysed and summarised by IDC.. For full text of foreign researcher's article Click Here)
of this has caused many factions in India to advocate for increasing
nuclear capabilities. Naval advocates are pushing for a sea based nuclear
deterrent force. India has an on-going programme to build a nuclear
submarine but the project is six years behind schedule and has already
incurred a 300% cost over-run. Defence analysts say that China has the
ability to launch a devastating nuclear attack against India without fear
of retaliation unless we operationalise the long range Agni-4 or a
submarine based nuclear missile force. They argue that China could take
out military targets without inviting strategic intervention and thus open
the path for a Pakistani armoured thrust towards Delhi. "Even a
limited tactical nuclear attack can have military consequences greater
than the three wars fought with Pakistan to date". The argument that
because US, UK, Russia, France and China all have submarine nuclear
capability, India remains vulnerable to a nuclear blackmail hence a
"triad" of land, sea, and air based nuclear capability is
necessary to protect the nation.
for reality on the ground, firstly, at the present rate of progress,
India’s nuclear submarine is years away. Even if we acquire the
capability of sea launched missiles, of what value would they be? Why
would China even consider "taking out military targets in India"
to open a path for Pakistani armour? If such an attack did occur, the
least of India’s problems would be Pakistani armour. What, prey tell, is
"a limited tactical nuclear attack"? In what manner would the
US, UK, France, or Russia wish to use nuclear blackmail against India?
this backdrop, the Vajpayee government has recently issued a statement of
nuclear doctrine. The doctrine, issued by a caretaker government preparing
for elections, was described as "a draft document designed to
generate debate". One would have to look a long time to find anyone
who believes this. This document is but another "in-your-face"
demonstration of the willingness of the Vajpayee government to use any
means at its disposal to gain political advantage. The first was the
Pokhran II test followed by the announcement of the nuclear doctrine. The
major points enunciated in the doctrine are:
is not exactly a brand new statement of policy. Nor is it particularly
definitive. It is a broad set of principles that invite all sorts of
discussing some of the glaring problems with India’s nuclear direction,
let’s think for just a moment about a couple of nuclear realities.
Suppose some regional conflict were to spark a nuclear exchange. What
would happen? It does not take any great stretch of imagination to suppose
that a belligerent would not waste its limited nuclear capabilities to
obliterate central Bihar, the Rajathstan desert, Bellary or Goa. Even a
small device, say one the size of the bomb that made much of Hiroshima
disappear, exploded in or over Bombay, New Delhi, or Calcutta would cause
catastrophic loss of life and damage to the economic survivability of the
country. The initial blast would probably incinerate a million or more
people instantly. They may well be the lucky ones. The shock wave and
thermal effect from the blast would level a huge area and cause
devastating fires killing more millions of people. The really unlucky
people would be the ones who survive the initial blast, the collapsing
buildings and the fires. These people, maybe a million more, would die a
very slow and painful death from radiation poisoning. More would die years
later from various forms of radiation caused cancer. In addition to purely
nuclear related deaths, even more people would die of disease because
surviving medical facilities would be overwhelmed and sanitation and clean
water would not be available.
long as a nuclear exchange remains possible, there is nothing India can do
to defend against it. If Pakistan were to launch a missile at Bombay or
New Delhi, its flight time would be 8-10 minutes. Early warning is out.
That amount of time would not allow anyone to get to any sort of shelter
even if such existed. One politician spoke recently about "ringing
Delhi with anti-ballistic missiles. This technology is well beyond
India’s reach and, in all probability, also beyond such countries as the
US and Europe. Even if the technology did exist, it can be overwhelmed by
multiple missiles or warheads and some will get through.
being said, let’s think about India’s "draft" Nuclear
Doctrine again. This document, in a nutshell, says that India won’t be
the first to use a nuclear weapon but should anyone be so boorish as to
nuke India, it will retaliate massively. Who, one must ask, is likely to
nuke India? One can’t see the US, the UK, France or Russia doing that.
Ruling out the West then leaves Asia, which means China and Pakistan.
China, as one writer has pointed out, announced a no first use policy many
years ago except within its borders. The message is clearly, "don’t
think about invading us". So unless India has plans to invade China,
China would seem an unlikely candidate for a nuclear exchange. Pakistan
might present another problem. It has not announced any no first use
policy. Why should it? Their major concern ought to be India’s
conventional superiority and the nuke is one way to even out that
disparity. The more India emphasizes the "high readiness – massive
retaliation" part of the doctrine, the more trigger happy Pakistan is
likely to become.
is, after all is said and done, a game of bluff. Who will blink first? If
you tell the other guy he can shoot first, it seems that you give away a
lot of the game. This, however, is not the real problem. Back in the cold
war days, neither the US nor Russia had a NFU doctrine. They had something
infinitely more frightening. That was the Doctrine of Mutually Assured
Destruction (MAD). Never has an acronym been more appropriate. This simply
said that I recognize you can deliver more warheads than I can stop and
can destroy me but I have the same capability and the ability of surviving
a first strike so you also will be destroyed. Think about it. This
doctrine said that if anyone pushed the nuclear button, much of the
population of the earth would cease to exist.
concept of no first use is absurd. What if you know your enemy is
preparing a strike? Are you going to wait for him to launch? To be
functional a deterrent threat must be rigidly controlled. The release of
nuclear weapons must be based upon very accurate, very timely and very
reliable intelligence and assessment. Any error or delay in knowing and
understanding what a potential enemy’s intentions are as well as what he
is actually doing would result in either an "accidental" release
or a delayed release. As has been discussed in relationship to the Kargil
situation, India’s intelligence gathering and assessment is, at best,
suspect. And then, of course, there is the question of command and
control. It is more than a little frightening when someone says that
ultimate release authority rests with the PM or "his designated
successor". Who might this be? The likes of George Fernandes?
problem for India is not whether it has a nuclear doctrine or whether it
will or will not use its weapons first. The problem is how can India and
its neighbours assure that a nuclear weapon is never used? By anyone.
enough talk on both sides about actually using nuclear weapons during and
post Kargil conflict. As one example a letter to the editor in ‘India
Today’ which referred to a column in the previous issue by Tavleen Singh
and stated, "Knowing your columnist Tavleen Singh’s pseudo-secular
antecedents, I am not surprised by her opposition to the RSS’ proposal
to nuke Pakistan ("Nuke Nuts in the RSS" July 12). Pakistan is a
country founded on hatred. During the Kargil crisis it threatened to use
nuclear weapons. Keyboard queens like Tavleen Singh inflict their pompous
analyses on the readers without caring for the safety of the nation."
(The RSS, for readers who may not be familiar with India’s political
relationships, is said to have enormous influence with the BJP the largest
party in the present coalition Govt). Interestingly, the writer of the
letter was in Dubai, presumably outside of the primary fallout area.
(Speaking of fallout, has anyone thought about which way the prevailing
winds blow from Pakistan and where much of the deadly fallout might end
lack of strategic thought in the governments of both Pakistan and India
may make the use of a nuclear device entirely possible. Neither country
has capability to stop a nuclear disaster from happening either
intentionally or by accident. This capability is tenuous even in the most
sophisticated governments. Why, really, does India require a nuclear
arsenal? Maintaining a nuclear arsenal has not helped any of the
superpowers. It didn’t help Russia in Afghanistan, it didn’t help the
US in Vietnam. Nuclear weapons are not going to help the US deal with
Saddam Hussein or North Korea.
operational aspects of a nuclear India are daunting enough but what about
the potential cost of building and maintaining a broader nuclear
capability? Some analysts have estimated the cost to be Rs 10,000 to
15,000 crore per year (US$2.3 to 3.4 billion). It is hard to even
contemplate the effect of expenditures of this magnitude on a country that
stands 138th out of 175 countries in the scale of human development, a
country with one billion people, one third of whom live in poverty and a
country in which half of the world’s illiterate live.
is only going to lead India into a hopelessly expensive arms race (it is
already doing so) and it will not change anything in the strategic balance
of the region. No one can take back Pokhran. It happened. But the country
can stop deploying nuclear weapons. Argentina and Brazil gave up nuclear
capability. It is unlikely that this will happen here, no matter how
noble, but deployment can be stopped and the threat of suicide held to its
invite readers of our website to send us their views on this article. We
would faithfully reproduce them with their names with the hope that the
debate would be conclusive.