India needs more nuclear tests

India needs more nuclear tests

Thursday, 27 August 2009, 10:04 Hrs   |    25 Comments
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India needs more nuclear tests
Bangalore: A former top official who coordinated India's nuclear weapons programme has cautioned that India should not be "railroaded" into signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as the 1998 Pokhran tests were not sufficient from the security point of view.

"We can't get into a stampede to sign CTBT. We should conduct more nuclear tests which are necessary from the point of view of security," K. Santhanam told IANS here.

"We should not get railroaded into signing the CTBT," Santhanam said when asked about reports of the U.S pressuring India to sign the CTBT and fresh efforts by the Obama administration to revive non-proliferation activism.

Santhanam, a former official with the Defence Research and Development Organisation, said that the thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb tests - the first and most powerful of the three tests conducted on May 11, 1998 - did not produce the desired yield.

Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) Chief R. Chidambaram is on record as saying that the bombs yield was 45 kilotons (45,000 tonnes of conventional explosive).

Santhanam's remarks are set to create a flutter in the non-proliferation establishment in the U.S and may raise doubts about the future of the India-U.S nuclear deal which will unravel if New Delhi were to test again.

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has defended India's nuclear deterrence capability even as former National Security Adviser (NSA) Brajesh Mishra rubbished Santhanam's claim that the 1998 Pokhran tests were not successful. Kalam, who mentored India's nuclear programme, said the only thermonuclear device tested in 1998 produced the "design yield".

"After the test, there was a detailed review, based on the two experimental results: (i) seismic measurement close to the site and around and (ii) radioactive measurement of the material after post shot drill in the test site. From these data, it has been established by the project team that the design yield of the thermonuclear test has been obtained," Kalam added.

"(Santhanam) is misleading the country. He is perhaps saying all this because he is so opposed to the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty)," Mishra said when asked why Santhanam was sowing seeds of doubt in the people's minds about India's nuclear capability.

Santhanam's assessment is set to bolster India's opposition to signing the CTBT - an issue that may figure in the discussions when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh goes to the U.S in November. India has opposed CTBT on grounds that it is discriminatory and tends to divide the world into the nuclear haves and have-nots.
Source: IANS
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Reader's comments(25)
1: Nuclear power is actually nice, inexpensive and very powerful. But then do not let the Indian government officials run the reactor. People are living in this nation, and one fine day, it will lead or explode or run amok. This is for sure, given the communication system inside Indian Government establishment. It will be similar to being run by the Russians.
Not only nuclear reactor, even such things as dams, railways, and many other things here need scrutiny, and not by the guys who run them. This much I speak from my years of experience with the Indian officialdom. Any day any mighty dam can break and these loud-mouthed guys will be nowhere near the gushing waters.
It is like the old National Health Service director claiming in the year around 1991, that AIDS is a white man's disease, and Indian's will not be affected.
Posted by:Ved from Victoria Institutions - 28 Aug, 2009
2: The misleading by nuclear establishment is nothing new/In 1984 ,Dr.rao,Of Naval Head quarters New delhi was put in Arthur bunder jail in bombay,because he has the termity to reject the design of nuclear reactor of BARC which was submitted to PM office by .dr.Raja Ramanna for Nuclear powered submarine,as it was copied from Ice ship breaker of german navy named "OTTO-HAN",and was unsuitable for a nuclear submarine .He was charged of stealing Indin Nuclear secret and was dragged by I.B. from air craft at 1.a.m. at bomabay airport ,and spent two yrs in jail and fought his own case and was discharged by court with honour./There are many more instances
@nd epidsode:-
Fast breeder raector:-
During 20th shriram memorial lecture on fast breeder reactor delivered by Dr.raja Ramanna,in 1984 ,I asked why the scale up ratio i.e.the ratio between prototype and ccommercial size in indian design is 39 while in all other countries in japan,Russia,U.k.and france ,it does not exceed 4,would you like to comment ,he had no answer,but asked personnel details telephoned the CMD of BHEL and an explanation was called from me and my ACR was spoiled/and I was never promoted/details could be furnished
H.S.sharma,B.Sc,,B.Tech.(IIT Bombay),M.S. in Nuclear raector technology Aston university U.K.,Mem.ASME(USA),M.Inst.P.(london),National Energy Consultant FAO(UNO)ex/Head Biotech deptt/Sobha sariya engg.College,Sikar-332001 & ""
Posted by:H.S.Sharma - 28 Aug, 2009
Ohhh Sir my respect to you. we never know the true picture as its always hidden. but before cmt to you I should know all detail of Indian neclear establishment. which a normal citigen like me will never know.
just tell me India heading the right way? whats India's position in nuclear technology among the others?
Rony Replied to: H.S.Sharma - 28 Aug, 2009
4: If u Mighty survive easily, it natural rule, your weakness are cause of death easily, u Version here I, my, me, we, ours, you, yours as persons, as family, as village, as city, as state, as country , so it is true India needs more nuclear tests . thanx
Posted by:bs Joon - 27 Aug, 2009
5: India should continue to test the nuclear bombs. CTBT and the nuclear agreement signed by UPA govt. are steps of US and its allies to stop India from developing its Thorium based Nuclear detonation devices. That only India has this technology and under this agreement US wants India to disclose its technologies to US and others. On the other hand all nuclear installations shall become open to them but the reverse will not be true. I fully agree with Dr Santhanam that India has surrendered its soverginity under the agreement. Instead our politicains should have encouraged our scientists to develope the Thorium based Power Reactors as India has second largest reserves of the this fuel.
Posted by:The Scientist - 27 Aug, 2009
6: We need energy as we need water to live.Imagine how we can pay salary without earning from processing of energy. Badal family visits abroad in routine so they should learn from those countries and copy as we did in getting ISOs and not SOI for various standards of International class.
Posted by:AK Aggarwal - 27 Aug, 2009
7: Nuclear energy has only one rational justification - if it offers cheap and clean non-fossil dependent energy and results in lower carbon emissions, it will contribute positively to manitaining the global ecological balance and sustainable well-being for biological life as we know it.

It has no other justification and no other need for the world communities. India should take the lead and volunatarily dismantle all nuclear weapons.

Decentralized development based on sustainable models. That is the prescription for people living on the sub-continent.

Stop being depressed, paranoid, aggressive. Improve quality of life for all, bottoms up. Clear priorities. That is our blueprint for real change.
Posted by:Mohandas - 27 Aug, 2009
We need energy as we need water to live.Imagine how we can pay salary without earning from processing of energy. Badal family visits abroad in routine so they should learn from those countries and copy as we did in getting ISOs and not SOI for various standards of International class.
AK Aggarwal Replied to: Mohandas - 27 Aug, 2009
This could be a scientist merely desiring more tests of the thermonuclear device, in order to remove any doubts or to test a new improved design. With of course, the political background in mind: pressure on India to sign the CTBT, China's pronouncements on the border issue, Pakistan's continuing insolence, and North Korea's testing.
Posted by:Varun Shekhar - 27 Aug, 2009
10: Big Powers like America is making all nation sign one sort of treaty or another through U.S sanctions but when it comes to them they hardly do that.
Posted by:Ameya - 27 Aug, 2009

I have several problems with Mr. Brown's analysis and his understanding the Security concerns of India. There is no religious mysticism. I am concerned about Fanaticism and Expansionism. India had lost its territory to both Pakistan and China. We are at a great risk of losing more and the chances of getting back or recovering the lost territory are exceptionally remote. The issue is not about trade and commerce. India needs viable and dependable deterrence. We need to gather more information and establish a weapons system that has a real deterrent value. The risks of warfare are known to all parties. But, deterrence, is a different concept.The idea is to deter war and hence the consequences of the war is not up for discussion. India has no dependable political ally. The Indo-US Nuclear deal has no intrinsic merit in terms of India's ability to deter a nuclear war.
Posted by:Major(Retd)Rudra Rebbapragada - 27 Aug, 2009
Dear Major Rebbapragada,

If it were not for religion (mystical or otherwise) there would be no Pakistan in the first place. There would have been no partition. There wouldn't be fighting over territory that was all (at one time) India INCLUDING Pakistan. The fanaticism you refer to is religious fanaticism, not just nationalism.

If the radical Muslim element in Pakistan disappeared tomorrow, and stopped pressuring for Kashmiri territory that has a large Muslim population BECAUSE it has a large Muslim population (so it must be a part of Pakistan) wouldn't Pakistan back off? Isn't the real nuclear danger from Pakistan these fanatics in their army and the risk that they will subvert the more sane and practical elements in their government and begin an insane venture against India? And (given that they are fuelled by religious fanaticism and not "realpolitick") aren't these same elements the very ones who are likely to COMPLETELY IGNORE any deterrent and attack anyway? Given that your deterrent capability right now is great enough to destroy Pakistan and Pakistan's armies, probably without even USING nuclear arms -- I have far greater respect for India's armed forces than for Pakistan's -- why make it larger? Given that you can never make it large enough to seriously threaten China (only large enough to start a horribly expensive and dangerous arms race) why bother starting at all?

And finally, didn't you note that it is no longer necessary to test nuclear bomb designs to be sure they will work -- it is possible to simulate every aspect of a design and the resulting blast -- so that insisting on the right to test designs is unnecessarily provocative EVEN if India decides to expand its nuclear arsenal.

Who doubts that Israel has enough bombs (and very excellent bombs at that) to utterly destroy its neighbors. And yet, they have never tested an actual nuclear device (at least, not in any way so that anybody can be certain that they have), and therefore they avoid creating an overt nuclear arms race in a part of the world that is already a powder keg. Does India really want to inflame the tension between itself and Pakistan by rattling spears when it is already vastly superior militarily? Why bother?

Robert Brown Replied to: Major(Retd)Rudra Rebbapragada - 29 Aug, 2009
13: Folks,

We already have built in safety. No country in its right mind will want to take over India as it would have to feed 1.2B people - they would go broke in a year! Also, can you imagine the chaos of 1.2B people each marching to a different drum beat where no 2 people agree on anything?

For India to develop and move to the next step and feed, clothe, and educate her people, there MUST be stability, peace, and articulation of ethics and morality such that the world will feel safe to work with its people and prosper.

No country has been able to sustain an advantage by violence or threats. Nuclear deterrent is passe and old school...India needs to be seen as a mighty power of peace, prosperity, ethics and morality.
Posted by:Samuel Adams - 27 Aug, 2009
I also agree with Mr. Adams, although I do think there is a nonzero chance of an attack from Pakistan (not China) because militant religious Pakistanis are arguably crazy. However, India can utterly destroy Pakistan, Pakistan cannot destroy India, and everybody knows it. Adding thermonuclear bombs to the mix will not change this, will not increase the deterrent factor, but it may trigger a real arms race.

Even worse, it is potentially a three-way arms race. China has no real interest in fighting with India -- it has no historic or racial ties to India, and there is an enormous natural boundary between the countries. The land along most of the boundary itself is utterly unusable. India is in the same position with respect to China that Pakistan is with respect to India -- it can hurt China and kill millions of people, but it cannot destroy it, while China very likely could destroy India. Thermonuclear arms would not alter that, they would only destabilize what is really a quite stable relationship with more mutual interests than conflicts.

I lived through (and survived) one such arms race. From the 1950's through the 1980's, I think the prevailing feeling in the United States was that a nuclear war was inevitable. For quite a few years of that time I lived in Springfield, VA, right on the beltway, and incidentally right along the line where an airburst 5 megaton burst over the Pentagon (ten or twelve miles away) would still MELT CARS. It was another five miles further out before one reached the edge of the expected firestorm that would consume 100% of the combustibles and kill 99% of the people, before dropping off to merely HALF of the houses and not IMMEDIATELY killing the people.

There is no point in India that isn't easily reached from Pakistan: by missile, by bomber, by infiltrator driving a truck, and in the case of coastal cities, by small boat. A thermonuclear device going off in Mumbai, in New Delhi -- really almost any big city -- would kill MILLIONS of people, and the exact same thing is true in reverse. A full scale nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan right now would kill as many as 100 million people and destroy 5000 years of civilization and culture in an instant, forever.

Samuel Adams said it very well. India should be seen as what it is: A mighty power of PEACE, PROSPERITY, ETHICS and MORALITY. Not of nuclear arms.

India is a sleeping giant, awakening. Its culture is truly ancient, and it values education and hard work. It has finally begun to throw of its myth-based and evil caste system so that it offers equal opportunity to all Indians regardless of the caste. India is in a state of transformation, with the well-educated, culturally literate, and relatively affluent members of Silicon India representing the exploding middle class that will one day (one hopes) become the ONLY class in a society where every person is the equal of every other person. In thirty years, India could be a shining example to the entire world, of a democratic country that has come into its own and created prosperity for all of its people.

I hope that it does not choose to run the enormous risk associated with a needless arms race, building an arsenal that cannot increase its already complete security, only decrease it.

Robert Brown Replied to: Samuel Adams - 29 Aug, 2009
very true my friend, I am in total agreement with you......
Good goin keep it up
bitey Replied to: Samuel Adams - 28 Aug, 2009
16: We should learn from North Korea. They don't care a shit for what US says. If we dont test, China will attack us from one end, Pakistan from the other end. We need to become more powerful.
Posted by:Sandeep - 27 Aug, 2009
17: Definitely, India must go ahead with its nuclear program, and if it requires to test the nuclear bomb, India must do so. There is no sense in listening to the western world, which has already reached a stage where they do not need much military advancements.

The western world thinks that they can bring peace and reduce the arms race in South Asia by cutting India's moves, as they continue to support Pakistan and China. They must find a way to stop Pakistan and China, not India.

Why should we cut our programs? Right said Mr. Santhanam.
Posted by:Deshu - 27 Aug, 2009
I disagree (as a physicist) for several distinct reasons. First of all, 45 kt yields are already twice as large as the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing somewhere between 150,000 and 250,000 people, creating nightmarish devastation, and leaving behind a legacy of pain in the form of leukemia and other cancers that affected children as readily as adults. With a dozen 45 kt bombs India could utterly flatten Pakistan (its only credible opponent) sending it back to the stone age and reaping a karmic burden so great that I shrink from even contemplating it, as the death toll would easily reach into the millions. 45 kt bombs are if anything overkill for tactical theater use -- just one would utterly destroy e.g. a column of tanks or men attempting to invade India, and indeed would render the passes into India being used by the column unusable "forever". And don't forget, India will reap its own plate full of sorrow in any nuclear exchange, both in the form of bombs destroying ITS totally exposed major cities and in the fallout from even the bombs it hurls at its enemies, which would ultimately rain down on Indian fields and be carried into Indian bones and cause cancer in Indian babies for decades after.

Then there is the practical engineering aspect of it, which reveals that this statement is nothing less than demagoguery. Up until perhaps ten or twelve years ago, there were export restrictions on computer technology from the United States because advanced computers were considered "weapons" and had been from the mid-80's. Why? Because a supercomputer can easily be used to SIMULATE nuclear weapon blasts, in detail, because the physics of nuclear devices is perfectly well known. It's just a matter of having enough compute power and smart enough physicists and programmers to do it. As a member of the physics community, and tightly tied into the Indian computational community (including some of its supercomputing groups) I absolutely assure you India may lack some things, but one of them is not brains. Your scientists and engineers are perfectly capable of simulating absolutely any sort of nuclear bomb design, given that my LAPTOP on which I'm typing this reply would have been considered not only a munition, but a highly dangerous one a mere fifteen years ago. A stack of over the counter computers with (say) multiple quad core processors at modern clock rates are staggeringly powerful, and perfectly capable of solving the hydrodynamics and other problems involved in simulating a nuclear device blast.

The destructive power of a nuclear device is a highly nonlinear function of its total energy release. Four or five 20 kt devices can do more damage than a megaton scale thermonuclear device, and the damage done by thermonuclear devices in the megaton range is staggering, perfectly capable of killing millions of people PER BLAST in the crowded warrens of Mumbai or Islamabad.

It makes me very sad that India (my second country, as I grew up in New Delhi) is in my opinion one of the most likely countries in the world to fight the world's SECOND nuclear war, as any such war will have only losers no matter who kills the most people on the other side. India already has an overwhelming deterrent in its existing nuclear arsenal. A country would have to be insane to attack India. The main problem to be addressed, therefore, is not the PROVOCATION of insanity from is "borderline" neighbors by not forswearing further testing, but to enter into stable relations with those same neighbors, relations that acknowledge the realpolitik that India is unassailable and ALSO that India has no interest in assailing its neighbors or rattling spears.

I lived in New Delhi through the 60's confrontations with Pakistan and China. I am not naive, and I know that the conflicts there are real and long standing. But the solution to those conflicts is to turn away from the irrational mysticism of religion altogether (on both sides) and instead forge bonds of trade and common interest, not to use those differences to inflame masses to serve the political ends of certain political parties.

Robert G. Brown Replied to: Deshu - 27 Aug, 2009
SUDHEENDRA Replied to: Robert G. Brown - 28 Aug, 2009
Dear Dr. Robert Brown,

Sane counsel to hard liners and War mongers in India.


Wing Commander (Retd.) KP Srinvasan

KP Srinivasan Replied to: Robert G. Brown - 28 Aug, 2009
Nicely writeen Robert all we need is friends not enemies we have enough nuclear arsenal to destroy enemey even entire china whithin couple of minutes thats enough for rivals coz they think twice to do any miadventures.
tRuE iNdIaN Replied to: Robert G. Brown - 27 Aug, 2009
please do not be in any misleads, India do not even stand beside China. We are 15 years behind them in every sense.

Putting the Sukhoi's in Tejpur alongside the Chinese border is just to put a point that the government is working, its active, and to satisfy the public regarding India's reply for China's growing activities in the east.

We do not have the ability to destroy China.
Deshu Replied to: tRuE iNdIaN - 28 Aug, 2009
Hi wht u r saying is absolutely wrong we have enfough resources in india as 1.2B papulation and 12 Lakhs milatory power wch is 9th largest one in world Navy is at 11th and Airforce is 5th place for ur concerns only 3 nation's having anti missile systems Israel,US and India 6th nuclear contury and tell me wht way u r saying china is powerful then india.Be frank here no contruy is powerful then other.It is not a easy thing like US take over Irak and Afgunisthan.
Praveen Replied to: Deshu - 28 Aug, 2009
Destorying any country is not possible. Build next morden nuclear weapon might not help as building smart and accurect weapons and modernisation of all the defence service is sufficent to break Chines teeth.
Bapi Replied to: Deshu - 28 Aug, 2009
First of all I disagree that e=we are 15 years behind china, don’t you remember that their authorities have smashed and killed thousands of students in that square what you call it some tianaman or something? They do not respect individual rights. Secondly the question is whether we should go ahead with our program of testing or not. As the Major said above we should never discontinue the tests. We should be able and free to do so as and when required. Somebody should not dictate us about our dos and don’ts. It is fact that only a strong person or country for that matter can talk of so called peace. not the weaker one. To bring peace to the world we must be strong. Thanks
Ajit Replied to: Deshu - 28 Aug, 2009