INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
POSTURES –– INDIA, PAKISTAN AND AL QAEDA
A review of four books by Ashley Tellis, Dr Sanjay Badri Maharaj , George Perkovitch and Raj Chengappa, each related to the nuclear status of India and Pakistan
Delhi, 22 November 2001
There is a hyped fear that Al-Qaeda terrorists may have access to nuclear bombs, as Pakistani nuclear scientists were in contact with Osama bin Laden for transfer of technology and a home in Kabul had diagrams of Nuke making. IDC has perused a lot of material and has also met Dr Raja Ramanna, India’s Openhiemmer, who is in New Delhi for the Parliament session. We are convinced that even a crude bomb needs expertise in metallurgy, triggers, detonators and delivery platforms.
Analyzing the Taliban’s and Osama’s ambition to use nuke terror, although it may be present but appears to be too far fetched to be successful. Hamid Mir, the Pakistani journalist who interviewed Osama recently said that bin Laden claimed that he could buy the weapons for 10 to 20 million dollars from the Central Asian Republics. IDC feels chemical and bio weapons may be easier to come by, as Iraq used them in its war with Iran and Soviet Super Virus designer –– Igor Domaradsky now 75, explained how he produced Plague and Cholera weapons for battle, but nuclear devices are a far cry for Osama.
therefore has great pleasure in reviewing four very important books on the
subject of Nuclear Posture of India and Pakistan, as it has become very
relevant post the 11 September hijacking attacks in USA. There is evidence
with Indian intelligence that a Somali Diplomat posted in India also tried
to get nuclear technology for the Al Qaeda group. He was deported or
escaped action as India is normally soft on diplomats (they even sell
their wares, liquor etc. with impunity and carry on other side businesses,
which is impossible in many other countries. The name of this Sudanese
gentleman and another, which appeared in the media in Delhi, have now also
been linked to the attack on USS COLE.
has been saying repeatedly that India's intelligence inputs are excellent,
plenty and meaty, but even now no reform for making intelligent use of it
has been attempted –– though we keep hearing that it would happen
–– but the turf wars continue. Intelligence is also money for jam. It
is a pity that the political hierarchy, the Cabinet and Home Secretaries
who are to control it, have little knowledge how to go about its analysis
and follow up. With busy Ministers forming the NSC which seldom meets, the
over burdened and globe trotting NSA, a powerful Chairman JIC ––
dislodged to become the Secretariat of NSC and more changes in the
offing for RAW, IB and MIs –– there is even more diffusion. Media
reports indicate that the core group formed to list terrorist groups is
getting no cooperation from “State police”.
REVIEW -- THE ARMAGEDDON FACTOR (Lancer Publishers & Distributors)
Dr Sanjay Badri Mahraj
Badri Mahraj who teaches and lives in Trinidad breathes Indian and
Pakistani defence affairs and the only criticism one can offer is he is
emotional. He is a knowledgeable but modest military analyst with deep
knowledge of Indian and Pakistani nuclear stances, with an abiding
interest in India. His book ‘The Armageddon Factor’ is eye opening for
the minute details he provides on India’s nuclear posture, capabilities
and deployment. He assumes and proves India and Pakistan have clear
ability to convert their infrastructure into deliverable nuclear weapons
at short notice.
has done an admirable job of detailing the progress of India’s nuclear
trail and the great point of his book is that he has threaded it with
excellent quotes from the media and others in an academic style, which
holds credibility. Then he goes further which no other book does –– to
discuss the Armed Forces of India and how the arsenal can be delivered.
The whole range of Mirages-2000, Jaguars, Prithvi and Agnis are laid bare
and the operational aspects of the India Pakistan orbat along the border
the bargain he discusses DRDO, Plutonium and Uranium usages and attacks on
each others nuclear facilities. He has explained Pakistan’s route via
the uranium path in some detail. His battlefield scenario deserves credit.
IDC was more impressed because he has discussed the views of the British
bureaucrat Quinlan, who came to India and met a whole lot of Indian
experts including IDC. His picture of India’s stances and abilities
became clear by the day. Having supervised the British nuclear programme,
he asked the right questions over tea and spirits and IDC is sure British
Intelligence has his feedback. The book also discusses nuclear deterrence
and whether it will work in the subcontinent. The book has great
professional value for operational commanders and thinkers.
IDC was impressed so we got Sanjay to review Ashley Tellis’
book. We do not fully agree with his Review but we offer it to our
readers. Ashley Tellis now Security Adviser to US Ambassador Blackwill in
Delhi has written a long and detailed book, which needs paraphrasing if it
is to be enjoyed. The plus point in his book is the explanation that India
has been compelled to look at nuclear deployment. Recessed and spread all
over under civilian control with the ‘core’, the ‘trigger’ and
‘assembly’ in different pockets, where they are kept ready to be
deployed, the military is out of the loop except to practice conventional
acts with dummy warheads.
Indian Navy has been doing missile firing practices with dummy warheads
and knows that this can be practical. India has to use this SWADESHI
nuclear policy and hence the NO FIRST USE stance, as there is no other
option. If India tried to militarise the nuclear arsenal like USA and
Russia have done it will go broke. As Quinlan explained when he came to
India, UK had to give up the land based nuclear forces altogether and lean
on Uncle Sam for their Submarine based nuclear deterrence. China is an
enigma but IDC can confirm that plans to have a TRIAD are firm in the
Government’s thinking –– as disclosed by the Defence Secretary at a
seminar. Ashley’s book deserves a long review. He was funded by the Rand
Corporation and if India follows suit then IDC would like to do the job
–– but India does not like think tanks. Only the IAS can be our think
REVIEW -- EMERGING NUCLEAR POSTURE BY ASHLEY J. TELLIS
by Dr Sanjay Badri Mahraj.
the aftermath of India's nuclear tests, the United States scrambled to
find ways to relate to and deal with a nuclear India. Questions such as
how advanced is India's nuclear weapons technology, how many weapons does
India intend to produce and what doctrine will govern the shape of this
arsenal and the possible employment of these weapons, assumed great
importance to US policy makers. Tellis' book intends to answer some of
these questions and guide US policy makers in their dealings with India.
He was commissioned by RAND to write this book.
scientific evidence serves to severely undermine Tellis' analysis of
India's nuclear capability as he spends a great deal of space attempting,
on the basis of what now appears to be faulty analysis, to deny India's
thermonuclear capability. He then extrapolates Indian weapons capability
into the future based on this. With a seriously compromised starting
point, Tellis's claims and assessments have major credibility problems.
Tellis, however, does a reasonable job of comparing various assessments of
India's plutonium stockpile. Unfortunately, even this is undermined by
Tellis's dogmatic views on the viability of reactor grade plutonium for
rest of Tellis's work deals with somewhat more esoteric matters relating
to India's deterrent versus Pakistan and China and India's emerging
nuclear doctrine. With these topics, Tellis performs somewhat better. His
work on command structures, in particular, and command and control issues
is very impressive. If one is cynical, this could be because he is
speaking of things to come and as such nobody can verify whether he's
correct or not! Nonetheless, it is interesting reading as he explores the
various permutations and combinations of structures likely to be adopted
by India. Tellis is a strong proponent of India not looking at keeping
assembled nuclear weapons married to delivery systems. India, he claims,
intends to ensure 'Assured Retaliation' rather than rapid retaliation. The
evidence for his claims are a bit hazy, but they cannot be ignored.
final part of Tellis's book is its briefest and deals with America's
relationship with a nuclear India. For India's policy makers, it is of
importance to note that Tellis believes that the US should stay engaged
with India, not so much out of strategic commonalities or out of a greater
understanding of India's security concerns, but to guide and limit India's
nuclear arsenal and its objectives. If India seeks to maintain strategic
independence, America's intentions should be viewed with a bit of caution.
remains one other aspect of Tellis's work that needs to be examined ––
his tone. Tellis's tone is one of sneeringly arrogant dismissal towards
anyone who does not support or acquiese to his apparently pre-determined
perspectives. On the technical aspect, in particular, Tellis does not
restrain his condescension towards Indian claims. In light of the dubious
scientific basis of his assertions Tellis should be much more circumspect.
Tellis loves to use the word 'unsubstantiated' –– many time
incorrectly especially if one were to go back to the orignial book or
article) to dismiss any Indian claims, but he never debates or refutes
them on the basis of real evidence or scientific fact. Tellis seems to
have picked the sources he agrees with and, instead of evaluating contrary
opinions, opted to dismiss them. Tellis makes no provision for the fact
that different assessments and interpretations can be made on the same
material. Indeed, many of the views he chooses to dismiss are in fact
based on similar, if not identical, material to his own sources. Moreover,
Tellis himself is not above making completely unsubstantiated claims. His
assessments of India's NBC defences and his support of the MSNBC story on
Pakistan's nuclear capability are both unsubstantiated and renders his
attempts to dismiss contrary viewpoints as being 'unsubstantiated'
somewhat hollow. This is not proper research and it serves to severely
undermine Tellis's work. Tellis's biggest problem is his complete lack of
appreciation for and understanding of nuclear technology and military
tactics, operations and technology. He can be forgiven for this since few
academics have such an appreciation or understanding. Tellis's problem is,
however, compounded by the fact that he does not understand the extent of
his own ignorance.
(The views expressed above are those of the author and IDC does not necessarily subscribe to them)
For professional readers IDC commends Sanjay’s book as it is practical and Tellis’ book as it is professional. Sanjay explains the 444 and 555 Missile Groups set up along with the Artillery, problems along Afghanistan border even before 9–11 and India’s ADGES, AREN and Air Defence Control. He touches on CBMs, DRDO attempts for the ASWACs plane, EMP in aircraft and BARC’s attempts in future nuclear technology. It is only then that the reader can fully grasp the state of India’s nuclear ability which is diffused and spread out but ready to be put together.
had met Dr Waldo Stumpt the builder of South Africa’s Atomic Bomb when
he came to India in 1993 and he too had such thoughts, which must have
influenced the Indian Scientific Community. Mr Quilan from UK whom IDC
holds in high regard, had different thoughts. The military has taken it
lying down as it does most matters. IDC is of the view that to make even
the simplest weapon system operational some military personnel have to be
fully involved. We see no signs of that except the IAF having done some
work with the Mirages and Toss Bombing. Possibly the Government is waiting
for the CDS and Strategic Forces to come into being. On the Pakistan side
the weapons appear to be further operationalised and hence the world
worries on the Indo-Pak equation over Kashmir.
other two books are George Perkovich’s ‘India’s Nuclear Bomb ––
The Impact on Global Proliferation’, Berkley - UCLA Press, which again
lists the whole programme and achievements and is a theoretical expose of
India’s bomb. Finally there is “Weapons of Peace” by Raj Chengappa,
an excellent journalist, who with interviews from all the Who’s Who of
India has written a very readable book published by Harper Collins ––
who made good money on it. It tells you tit bits of how every Government
except possibly Morarji Desai cleverly and secretly funded and kept the
nuclear programme alive. No one has written that India could have also got
into the Pressler amendment trap if the CIA knew and they probably did,
but then world politics is –– ‘you scratch my back and I will tickle
yours in return’. That is the political state between India and USA
today and the rest is history and CIA was also fooled during Pokhran II.
India too must realise that there are no permanent friends only interests.
We have everything going for us except the economy and resolution of the Kashmir problem and we feel that in a small way we are contributing to solve these two issues. Hence this longish piece on NUCLEAR STATUS, which we hope you enjoy and we look forward to your feedback.