IDC had reported Dr Iyengar and Mr K Subrahmanyam's statements on India's nuclear position. Now we present Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr Rajgopal Chidambaram and BARC Director Dr Kakodakar's ( India's Oppenhiemers for Pokhran !! ) statements, that INDIA IS A NUCLEAR STATE and that it has the capability to design and fabricate nuke bombs from low yield to 200 kilotons. Mark the words -- ‘has the capability’. Let us hope the military and the NSC are involved in this confident statement as it leads to an assumption that some fabrication and manufacture has moved forward for India's nuclear arsenal.

IDC takes you back to the argument of Dr Iyengar that the military, being the postmen for the bombs even if sheathed and not used, will have to gain confidence in the weapon delivery, command and control and strategy and tactics. Since late Gen K Sundarji wrote his thesis on INDIA-PAKISTAN and INDIA-CHINA nuclear stand off tactics, very few serving officers or the DGDPS have had the courage to put this down on pape, with targeting and battle/war gaming scenarios, as this has to be politically cleared by a body like the NSC. After this has been done only then the Armed Forces have to be prepared for the deployment and thereafter the manufacture of weapons, fine-tuned according to the lessons learnt.

In our case maybe the capability will dictate the weapon design at BARC. As for the NSC, if Mr K Subrahmanyam is to be believed, he has re-iterated in the TOI of 30 Oct that it is a still-born organisation for decision making. In the present scenario, it appears that the National Security Advisor is the repository for nuclear decision making as he has access to all the intelligence, the ground position of atomic weapons, and as PPS to the PM, the low-down of the politico-economic situation; as to how India is ticking in all aspects of defence, industry, foreign affairs and domestic polity. Mr Raghunath the former Foreign Secretary has joined the NSC staff and will now be involved in the decision making or at least the back-up to it.

Commemorating the 91st birth anniversary of the father of India's nuclear programme, Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, which was celebrated celebrated at BARC, Dr Chidambaram said the following to the nuclear scientists and technocrats concerned with the bomb manufacturing facility:

''Nuclear weapons technology is not one technology, but a mixture of many scientific disciplines and technologies. The five carefully planned and completely successful nuclear weapon tests at Pokhran on May 11 and 13, 1998 and confirmation of design yields by seismic, radiochemical and other studies carried out by BARC, gave us the capability to design and fabricate nuclear weapons ranging from low yield to around 200 kilo tons. But since May 1998 a great deal of scientific and technological development has taken place."

BARC director Dr Anil Kakodkar who is the ‘hands on’ man with his fine team that planned and set-off the 5 blasts at Pokhran successfully, has said that the post-test investigations of the May 1998 nuclear blasts were complete. ''These have confirmed that all objectives of the tests have been fully met."

Reiterating Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's statement that ''India is now a nuclear weapon state'', Chidambaram has attributed it to --- ''All thanks to the vast multi-disciplinary capabilities which the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has built up deliberately and with forethought over the years.''

After these nuclear tests, it is learnt that rock samples were collected by drilling from the test sites at various points in Pokhran, by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research. Scientists from BARC have estimated the yields from the seismic and radioactivity measurements, and from analysis of the data from other close-in measurements carried out at the time of tests. All these have confirmed the initially declared yields of the tests of May 1998, which included three sub-kilo ton devices in addition to a thermo-nuclear device and a standard fission device like the one exploded in 1974 but much improved. This has led to great confidence at BARC which now needs to be transfused to the military.

A weapon system to become operational takes time which can be even years as we saw in the deployment of Seakings for the Indian Navy, Mirages for the Air Force and now the SU 30s.The same should hold even more true for the nuclear weapons, but as Gen S Padmanabhan stressed at the Cariappa Memorial Lecture, the Indian Army's strength since the Cariappa days is that it is absolutely apolitical. Hence the Armed Forces may never question the sagacity of the politicians and repose full trust in their wisdom on affairs nuclear. Yet some one must reply to K Subrahmanyam’s poser that all is well and under control and the ‘Chalta Hai’ and ‘No Problem’ syndrome is not present in nuclear matters.

IDC invites comments whether our analysis of the conduct of nuclear policy, particularly with regard to the deterrence part of it, is on the right lines or like in the earlier days, maintenance of deliberate ambiguity on India's nuclear ability is the right course for the present coalition Government of the 17-party NDA.

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