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Re: On the nuclear weapons issue



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To begin with, it seems that not many people on this debate are
familiar with low-yield nuclear weapons. Mr. Vamsi has often
repeated that they are not the same as conventional nuclear weapons,
but that doesn't provide anyone with information about what these
weapons exactly are. For those interested in learning about exactly
what these are, I provide two links below:

http://www.fas.org/faspir/2001/v54n1/weapons.htm
http://www.disarmament.org/mininukesfactsheet.pdf

The entire issue of nuclear weapons of any kind is always a hot
topic, as you can tell by some of the responses in the public media:

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0415-04.htm
http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2001/010416-nuke.htm
http://www.cdi.org/dm/2000/issue7/new-nuclear.html
http://www.enn.com/news/wire-stories/2001/04/04182001/upi_nukes_43098.asp

I apologize for the fact that all the above articles are either neutral
or against the idea of development of "mini-nukes", as they are
called. After an hour of searching I was unable to come up with
an article that outright supported their development. Mr. Vamsi
might be knowledgeable of publishings supporting his side of the
debate. Further, most of the research into mini-nukes has been
happening in the United States, so any discussion of this issue is
based on their findings. I am not aware of any published
research findings/conclusions from the May 11 & 13, 1998
tests where the utility of "mini-nukes" has been conclusively
determined. Again Mr. Vamsi, please refer us to any sources
you might have regarding this issue.

However I did find the following article discusses why India
should continue to perform nuclear tests with sub-kiloton yields:
http://www.indiaworld.co.in/news/features/feature630.html
Note that a "mini-nuke" is approximately a 5 kiloton device,
not a sub-kiloton device. Tests of over a kiloton or so are
prohibited by the CTBT which many of the participants in this
debate are likely to be very divided on.

Based on all of this, I would like to step back for one moment
and look at what the actual military threat to India is, that we
are trying to counter.

One real threat is the use of chemical and biological weapons,
and the articles above explore the potential benefit of using
mini-nukes to bust deep underground storage areas for such
weapons. The biggest problem with mini-nukes is that they are
far more likely to be deployed than are conventional
"big-bada-boom" nukes. As with any missile, not all of them
have a 100% worked-as-planned result. Most detonate, some
don't. Most land in the right spot, some don't. But chemical
and biological attacks do not have to take place in the form of
missiles (e.g. anthrax-scare in the U.S.). Even if I do agree that
low-yield nukes can be effective, the real risks and consequences
of deployment are far more severe than those of non-nuclear
weapons. Any civilian deaths due to the use of nuclear weapons
(of any kind) will have unimaginable international repercussions.
Whether anyone likes it or not, India is situated in this world,
not on another planet. The problem with building nuclear
weapons of any sort is that they serve as a self-deterrent. We
build them for deterring other nations from attacking, however
we ourselves cannot really use them ourselves for fear of being
attacked ourselves. So they will never actually be used by any
rational government.

However, in my view the main issue is, how do we build a
defense system that will serve as a true deterrent for any other
(rogue) nation or military entity attacking India, regardless of the
form of such attacks? These rogue entities will typically not
have rational governments as assumed in the earlier paragraph.
Further, what should our national defense policy be, to be able
to achieve this goal? I think the aim of Mr. Vamsi's support for
low-yield nuclear weapons is the same - to ensure that India
can at least destroy rogue entities, if not become a big bully in the
world arena and not be "pushed around" as it were. Certainly
maintaining a large conventional military force is no longer such
a deterrent in the 21st century.

I had indicated in an earlier post that a national missile defense
system would be a wonderful idea if India could build one that
actually worked. The United States has spent a lot of money on
this and not achieved any significant results. I am not certain that
India can meet the same level of funding for such a project without
a serious impact to other important initiatives. Here is a good
resource for those interested in the U.S. National Missile Defense
program which outlines its problems:
http://www.clw.org/pub/clw/coalition/libbmd.htm

Another potential solution is to revert to the Reagan-era idea of
a Star Wars defense program. To me, the star wars program
sounds like a dream come true if it can be achieved. The problem
however is that it is likely to remain a dream for many years to
come. The cost of turning this into reality is too exhaustive even
for the U.S., let alone an economically smaller India. However a
thorough exhaustive study on what it would take to achieve such
an ambitious program would not necessarily be a bad idea. It
would be wonderful if India could achieve a technology milestone
in military capability before any other country in the world.

One reason this has not been the case, despite our wishes, is
our economic size. Economy is as much of a military asset as
a stockpile of nuclear warheads. Economy does not prevent
minor terrorist groups from being active within the country,
but neither do nuclear warheads. However a strong economy
does a lot more for the citizens than a stockpile of nuclear
warheads. The U.S.-Iraq situation arose largely from the
economic hurdles of an Iraq-occupied Kuwait. Nobody
would have cared if it was Iraq invading Rwanda or some other
"insignificant" nation. Similarly, some claim that the Afghanistan
attacks are purely in the interest of natural gas reserves. If
economic interests can provoke such strong reactions, then
perhaps a better alternative for India would be to focus even
more strongly on strengthening its own economy and
increasing foreign trade. Just a thought. However strengthening
India's economy is most easily accomplished by improving ties
with its neighbour, Pakistan.

Rahul Mittal

----- Original Message -----
From: <sdcvamsi@yahoo.com>
To: <debate@indiapolicy.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2001 4:41 AM
Subject: Re: On the nuclear weapons issue


> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Please help make the Manifesto better, or accept it, and propagate it!

> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> I generally disagree on a few points stated below by Dr. Roy.  First,
India should focus on the world
> stage rather than Pakistan for its defense issues.  In fact, Military
programs and Space programs MUST
> be combined within India or at least occupy same importance in Delhi.
The
key question in this century
> is whether Indian Defense programs can generate enough research and
technologies to give Indian
> Industries and corporations the advantage they need?!  That is the
nature
of wars within this century
> (on Earth and in Space) and Indian Military has a big role in it!!
The
fact is that some countries like
> US and Britain have this model where their corporations benefit
immensely
from defense research - all
> other models seem to be weaker unless we can come up with something
better
where Government funding is
> involved which can also benefit the private sector!!
>
> Second, I have been arguing that India should deploy low yield nukes
(NOT
nuclear weapons in the
> traditional sense).  India must continue to upgrade its military to
enhance reconnaissance, mobility,
> and attack capabilities.  New developments in militaries of the world
demands such a readiness.
>
> Third, the union between India and Pakistan as proposed by Dr. Roy is
impossible given the ideological
> differences in politics and cultures....if anything India and Pakistan

must drift toward such a union by
> some other means and over a longer term!
>
> Sincerely,
> Vamsi M.



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