Monday, September 14, 2009


India. India claims that it went nuclear because of a nuclear threat from China and elsewhere. It implies that its nuclear doctrine envisages a global threat. India has also had the advantage of Western, Israeli, European and Soviet assistance in developing nuclear technology, delivery systems, survivability, surveillance and defensive shields. Even a minimum nuclear and conventional force level against China gives it an advantage against Pakistan. But it has a problem.

· Rand Corp opines that India can only produce about 10 KGs of HEU a year, a stock too insignificant to produce thermo nuclear weapons let alone a medium sized fission device.

· To circumvent this shortage, India is the only country in the world deploying at least two fast breeder production reactors using thorium to produce another fissile Uranium233 isotope. How much U233 can India produce is speculative.

· Technical experts and nuclear strategists are of the view that the Indian Thermo Nuclear Explosion of May 1997 was perhaps a U233 device that did not reach the second stage.

· These production reactors are outside the ambit of US-Indo Nuclear Treaty and therefore exert a reflex pressure on Pakistani stockpiles.

· Like NATO, India also shares a long contagious border with its closest rival Pakistan while enjoying considerable depth from Andaman to South India.

· Indian Nuclear Doctrine indicates a Pakistan specific veiled threat of first use in the form of pre emptive retaliation, no first use and an escalation ladder beginning from conventional hostilities to a nuclear exchange that includes counter force targets.

· So far Indian nuclear capability cannot credibly apply the same against China. It needs further testing of U233 as fuel for TNWs, as well as a multiple redundant launching system capable of targeting major Chinese cities whilst ensuring survivability through numbers, passive and active defence. The range needed is 3-4000Kms and payload beyond 2000Kgs, something India has not been able to achieve.

Pakistan. Pakistan’s capability revolves around its enrichment of Uranium. Though the process was capped in the 90s, Nuclear Watch Dogs opine that Pakistan has since enriched this material (200Kgs) to weapon’s Grade. Pakistan’s only production reactor is assumed to be critical and can produce about 11 KGs of weapon grade plutonium enough for adding two weapons per year. Pakistan too has the choice in future of shifting to thorium. But according to Watch Dogs, Pakistan’s problems lie else where.

· The nuclear threshold has been driven down not so much by Pakistan’s experimentation with low-intensity warfare across the line of control in Kashmir as by nearly twenty years of starkly unequal arms acquisition trends, and by India’s readiness to exploit its huge buildup politically by Coercive Diplomacy in tandem with USA. Pakistan is being led into a conventional arms race in armed forces and nuclear defence.

· Pakistan’s asymmetry in surveillance, residual capability and defensive shield systems with India has widened.

· The lowering of thresholds of capability and credibility is in inverse proportion to the rising and effective Compellence Diplomacy by both India and USA. This means that Pakistan’s, nuclear deterrence has been compromised and therefore not served to address the question of major asymmetries.

· Indo-US Nuclear Treaty ambiguously extends the US Nuclear Umbrella to India as much as it did to Western Europe during the Cold War. It therefore degrades Pakistan’s Deterrence.

· As in Kargil inasmuch as Pakistan demonstrated its revisionist stance, it also showed the world that it was possible to fight a high intensity limited conflict in a hot zone without resort to nuclear weapons.

· As suggested by Gen Kidwai’s recent interviews to New York Times and other chatter picked up by Landau Network of Italy, Pakistan’s thresholds are geographical, military, economic and social. It is also suggestive that Pakistan will use its weapons as a last resort. This is in contradiction to the basic concept of Minimum Deterrence and indicates a shift to a war fighting strategy under a nuclear shadow that favours India. The implication is that to raise this declared threshold and preclude an in extremis. Pakistan will have to bolster its conventional forces and adopt a Strategy of Denial through conventional forces and nuclear defence.

· Fear of becoming vulnerable to a first strike (and/or a desire to attain first-strike capability) gives technology a central role in deterrence, and tends to fuel a high-intensity qualitative arms race. Pakistan has to develop and adopt effective controls on the Graduated Escalation Ladder both in conventional and nuclear forces to retain initiative of nuclear retaliation.

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