Implications for credible minimum deterrence

Implications for credible minimum deterrence

Implications for credible minimum deterrence: PK Iyengar and other

By Express News Service

* 19 Dec 2009 01:29:00 AM IST***

SOON after the Pokhran-II tests on 11 May 1998, the scientists of the two
organisations concerned _ the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the
Defense R&D Organisation (DRDO) _ had jointly evaluated the success of the
two tests _ the fission device (A – bomb) and the fusion device (H – bomb).
While former device performed perfectly, including creating a crater of the
expected size, the fusion device failed on many counts _ very low yield, no
crater etc.
International monitoring centres also recorded low intensity of shock waves,
resulting in low yield estimates _ estimates that were more in consonance
with the DRDO numbers. This was discussed among the BARC and DRDO scientists
involved _ and resulted in a dispute between them.
A detailed report submitted by DRDO to the Government fully corroborated its
original assessment ,viz. ,that, while the fission device worked
successfully as expected, the fusion device did not.
The recent revelations by K Santhanam, who was in charge of all of DRDO’s
activities at the site, testifies to this. By all accounts _ geological,
radiochemical as well as seismic – it is now quite clear that the fusion
device yielded a very low value of explosive power.
The articles by K Santhanam and Ashok Parthasarathi in `The Hindu’
(September 17 , 2009) and P K Iyengar in `Outlook’ (October 26, 2009) go
into considerable technical detail and present a credible case, beyond all
reasonable doubt, that the H – bomb tested on May 11, 1998 failed.
These findings are extremely serious for the security of the nation,
particularly in the context of our pronouncement of being a nuclear weapon
power, along with our enunciated doctrine of ‘no first use’ and our
‘unilateral voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing’. They strike at the
root of our weaponisation capability and compromise our strategy of Credible
Minimum Nuclear Deterrence.
“Soon after the Pokhran-II tests, the then government almost succumbed to
the western pressure to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
backing off only at the last moment due to an outcry in the country against
doing so. The refusal of the US Senate to ratify the CTBT then released the
pressure on the government. The renewed pressure from Obama on us in recent
months to sign the CTBT is causing the issue of our signing the CTBT to be
raised again. We strongly urge the present government to remain firm in its
opposition to our doing so as the Prime Minister has publicly assured the
nation more than once in recent months.’’ Obama has actually gone further
than trying to secure universal adherence to the CTBT, and secured a UN
Security Council Resolution urging such adherence to the Nuclear Non
Proliferation Treaty (NPT) also. Not signing the highly discriminatory NPT
has been an article of faith of all our governments – irrespective of hues –
since the Treaty was drawn up in 1968. The present government, we strongly
urge again, should continue that policy steadfastly, despite whatever
threats and blandishments are applied to it. Even the slightest succumbing
would convert our ‘voluntary moratorium’ into an involuntary, permanent,
cessation of nuclear weapon testing and so forever deny us our legitimate
place in the great powers’ league.
The international political and diplomatic aspects as set out in the
previous para apart, the grave situation we are in regarding our
Thermonuclear (H-bomb) Capability.
It demands resolute, speedy and comprehensive corrective action.
We are well aware of the nature, sources and scales of nuclear threats the
nation faces. To meet that threat effectively, an indepth analysis of our
real capabilities in terms of: Command & control systems, nuclear weapon
delivery systems and the types, character and numbers of nuclear weapons
needing to constitute our nuclear arsenal and the keeping of that arsenal
up-to-date, is essential – indeed acutely pressing.
To address these issues and take well informed competent and speedy
decisions instead of depending entirely on the existing bureaucracy,
administrative, military and scientific, it is essential to have the
involvement, on a continuing basis, of a wide variety of opinions and
assessments from scientists, strategic analysts and defense & diplomatic
personnel with a deep understanding of the many complex issues involved,
including the technologies needed to be developed, and the minimum timescale
in which this can be achieved.
While secrecy is crucial, an open mind and willingness to learn are equally
important. We therefore, strongly urge the government to immediately set up
a high-level, independent, broad- Based Panel of Experts to define and
monitor the implementation, on a continuing b sis, of an effective course of
action, in the realm of thermonuclear weapons, so central to our national
All of us have worked on different aspects of this problem with a sound
understanding of the harsh ground realities and the immense magnitude of
what is at stake. It is now for the government to take the call – and
without losing a minute more – as its counterparts in our adversaries have
and are continuing to do so.

Signatories to the statement

# P K Iyengar, former Chairman Atomic Energy Commission, Director BARC and a
key architect of the Pokhran I nuclear test of May 18, 1974 and
internationally acknowledged as India’s top nuclear weapons expert;

# A N Prasad, former Director, BARC and Member (R&D) of the Atomic Energy
Commission, a Senior Adviser on nuclear weapons to the International Atomic
Energy Agency, Vienna for many years and a key member of our original
weapons grade plutonium extraction technology development dating back to

# A Gopalakrishnan, former key expert in our Advanced Technology Vehicle
(ATV) project, which developed the nuclear submarine Arihant and former
Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,

# C K Mathew, former head, Radio Chemistry Division, BARC and Director
Chemistry Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam; Jaipal
Mittal, Raja Ramana Fellow and former Director, Chemistry Group, BARC,

# A D Damodaran, former Director, Special Materials Plant, Nuclear Fuel
Complex and former Director, Regional Research Laboratory,

# S R Valluri, former Director, National Aerospace Laboratory and first
Director General of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the
organisation specially set up to design and develop the Light Combat
Aircraft – Tejas;

# Capt S Prabhala, Indian Navy former Chairman & Managing Director Bharat
Electronics Ltd.;

# Rear Admiral J J Baxi, former Director, Weapons and Electronics Systems
Organisation, Ministry of Defense and Chairman & Managing Director Bharat
Electronics Ltd., and

# Brigadier M R Narayanan former Director, Army Radio Engineering Network,
Ministry of Defense; K S Jayaraman, formerly Nuclear Physics Division, BARC,
Science Correspondent of the PTI for many years, Science Correspondent for
South Asia for leading international journal ‘Nature’ and President Indian
Science Writers Association.


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