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India's Flawed Nuclear Tests: Why blow the whistle 11 years later? What Should Pakistan Do?

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asians Against Nukes - Year 11 September 11, 2009 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SAAN_/message/1289 ... INDIA S NUCLEAR FIZZLE - WHAT SHOULD PAKISTAN DO?
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2009
      South Asians Against Nukes - Year 11
      September 11, 2009



      By Pervez Hoodbhoy

      Dawn, 2 Sep, 2009

      Suspicion has now turned into confirmed fact: India's hydrogen bomb
      test of May 1998 was not the fantastic success it was claimed to be.
      Last week's dramatic revelation by K. Santanam, a senior RAW official
      with important responsibilities at the 1998 Pokhran test site, has
      essentially confirmed conclusions known from seismic analysis after
      the explosion.

      Instead of 45 kilotons of destructive energy, the explosion had
      produced only 15 to 20. The bomb had not worked as designed.

      Why blow the whistle 11 years later? An irresistible urge to tell the
      truth or moral unease is scarcely the reason. Santanam's "coming
      clean" has the stamp of approval of the most hawkish of Indian
      nuclear hawks. Among them are P.K. Iyengar, A.N. Prasad, Bharat
      Karnad and Brahma Chellaney.

      By rubbishing the earlier test as a failure, they hope to make the
      case for more nuclear tests. This would enable India to develop a
      full-scale thermonuclear arsenal.

      As is well known, a thermonuclear (or hydrogen) bomb is far more
      complex than the relatively simple fission weapon first tested by
      India in 1974 and by Pakistan in 1998. Advanced weapons needs fine-
      tuning to achieve their full destructiveness - France had to test 22
      times to achieve perfection.

      By generating a pro-test environment, India's nuclear hawks hope to
      make life difficult for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's moderate
      government whenever India's signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban
      Treaty (CTBT) comes up for discussion. Santanam's revelation has been
      spurred by the fear that if President Obama succeeds in his
      initiative to revive the CTBT - which had essentially been shot dead
      by the US Senate in 1999 - the doors on nuclear testing could be shut
      worldwide. A race against the clock is on.

      There are not the only ominous developments. India has begun sea
      trials of its 7,000-ton nuclear-powered submarine with underwater
      ballistic missile launch capability, the first in a planned fleet of
      five. India became the world's 10th-highest military spender in 2008
      but now plans to head even further upwards. In July 2009, Indian
      defence minister, A.K. Antony announced that for 2009-2010 India
      plans to raise its military budget by 50 per cent to a staggering
      $40bn, about six times that of Pakistan.

      On the Pakistani side, the desire to maintain nuclear parity with
      India has caused it to push down the pedal as hard as it can.
      Although the numbers of Pakistani warheads and delivery vehicles is a
      closely held secret, a former top official of the CIA recently noted
      in a report released this month that: "It took them roughly 10 years
      to double the number of nuclear weapons from roughly 50 to 100".

      This is bad news for those Pakistanis, like myself, who have long
      opposed Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Our Indian friends and colleagues
      - who have opposed their country's bomb with far greater vigour -
      have failed even more spectacularly in stopping their nuclear
      juggernaut. It is little satisfaction to note that post-1998
      developments have repeatedly confirmed predictions, made by Pakistani
      and India anti-nuclear activists separately, that the loud claims of
      "minimal deterrence" by nuclear hawks on both sides are a proven
      sham. Only the sky is the limit.

      Stuck with an arms race that is fuelled by India's newfound economic
      strength, what should Pakistan do - Before contemplating
      alternatives, one must calmly scrutinise India's motives and
      disaggregate the threats that Pakistan faces both externally and

      First, an unpalatable truth - India's nuclear planners want to play
      in the big league, not with Pakistan. While nuclear Pakistan is
      indeed seen as troublesome, it is a side consideration. India's
      newfound aggressive and dangerous nationalism now actively seeks new
      rivals and enemies across the globe. This potentially includes its
      present allies, Russia and the US. But it is strongly focused upon
      neighbouring China.

      An example: this month's article by Bharat Verma, the hawkish editor
      of the influential Indian Defence Review, makes the preposterous
      prediction that China will attack India before 2012, leaving only
      three years to the Indian government for preparation. He claims that
      a desperate Beijing is out "to teach India the final lesson, thereby
      ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century" and China is
      working towards an end game rooted in the "abiding conviction of the
      communists that the Chinese race is far superior to Nazi Germany".
      Verma's solution: India must arm itself to the teeth.

      Pakistan should find reassurance in this kind of thinking, warped
      though it is. It indicates that India's China obsession is doing most
      of the driving, not hostility with Pakistan or the Muslim factor.
      Certainly, India's military expansion deserves a full-throated
      condemnation both because of the unnecessary tension it creates, as
      well as the diversion of resources away from the actual needs of
      India's people. But the lesson for us is that we need not panic or
      fear an Indian invasion. Pakistan already has enough military muscle
      to stay safe in this regard, even if India increases its nuclear
      arsenal manifold.

      On the other hand, Pakistan is not safe from dangerous internal
      threats. These are: population growth, terrorism and provincial

      Pakistan's population is out of control. From 28 million in 1947, it
      has shot up to 176 million today, roughly a six-fold increase over 60
      years. This exploding population bomb makes it impossible to provide
      even basic education and health facilities to a majority. Shrinking
      per capita availability of water is inevitable and is certain to
      become a source of serious internal violence as well as growing
      tensions with India.

      Terrorism, fortunately, is not yet out of control. But recent army
      victories and the elimination of Baitullah Mehsud, while welcome, are
      far from decisive. The epicentres of terrorism are highly mobile.
      Religious radicalism has penetrated deep into the core of Pakistan's
      society, particularly its youth. The real problem lies in our cities,
      not the mountains.

      Nationalist struggles, with those in Balochistan being the most
      serious, are a third important threat. They are indicative of the
      deep unhappiness felt by a good fraction of Pakistanis living outside
      Punjab. While too inchoate to seriously threaten the federal
      structure at this point, circumstances could rapidly change.

      These are serious existential threats. But they cannot be met by
      following India's path. Would tripling Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and
      missile inventory, or having thermonuclear weapons, reduce their
      severity even marginally?

      Instead, the way to create a viable Pakistan lies in embarking on an
      emergency population planning programme, building a sustainable and
      active democracy on the back of a welfare state, restructuring the
      economy for peace rather than war, remaking the federation so that
      provincial grievances can be effectively resolved, eliminating the
      feudal order and creating a tolerant society that respects the rule
      of law and does not discriminate between citizens.

      The writer is chairman of the department of physics and professor of
      nuclear physics at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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