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India’s Nuclear Ambitions Unabated

Truck-mounted Missiles on display at the IDEAS 2008 defence exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan.

Nuclear Abolition NewsViewpoint | Eurasia Review

By USMAN ALI KHAN*

KARACHI - As the world seeks to shrink global stockpiles of nuclear weapons, India continues to modernise its arsenal which increases Pakistan’s security dilemmas, compelling it to respond appropriately. Much alarm has been raised in the West about Pakistan’s enhancement of its nuclear capability and depicted this as a mindless, irrational drive motivated by the unbridled ambitions of the nuclear scientific-military lobby, which is far from reality. This has been in play against Pakistan but no one cares what India does. The links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons go back to the very beginning of the development of atomic energy. Over time the nature and strength of these links have varied.

A recent statement published in THE HINDU on, October 31, 2013 by Indian Atomic Energy Chairman R.K. Sinha that “India will continue its nuclear programme without any interruption, irrespective of decisions taken by other countries and there is no reason to follow Germany, Japan which are cutting down on nuclear energy.”

One needs to understand that Nuclear Reactors Create the Material and Technological Expertise to Make Nuclear Weapons. Also Civilian nuclear programs have led to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in India. India’s nuclear program began in 1960 with a research reactor provided by Canada and run with heavy water supplied by the United States. According to the New York Times, American technicians trained Indian scientists to reprocess plutonium from the radioactive fuel. Indians then used the plutonium for a nuclear bomb in 1974. The Indian government called the use of this nuclear device “a peaceful nuclear explosion”.

Also India’s refusal to allow safeguards to eight of 22 power reactors (existing or under construction) in the framework of the agreement between the U.S. and India strongly indicates that power reactors play a direct role in the nuclear weapons program of India.

The global nuclear industry has learned its lessons from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan in 2011 and can look to the future with “confidence and optimism” but India is still bent on increasing its hegemonic design to outside world with nuclear ambitions. India is seeking to exploit the advantages of its much larger size, rapidly expanding economy, and burgeoning “global strategic partnership” with the U.S. to greatly expand and modernize its military—both conventional and nuclear forces. As discussed above that they started their civilian programme from CIRUS reactor with the technology provided by both U.S and Canada, converted it for the production of weapons naming it as a peaceful nuclear explosion. Therefore India’s continuous enhancement for nuclear appetite clearly shows that the Indian nuclear programme will never remain peaceful.

Also it is said in the same published news by R.K. Sinha that: We have been pursuing our nuclear programme on our own. We are in the process of establishing new nuclear power plants across India, without being dependent on any foreign country. There is no question of following them and halting our nuclear programme which is also a clear contradiction from a statement of their own when they have deals on nuclear energy with half a dozen country.

The international community will have to dig in as to what extent their nuclear ambitions are? Isn’t it a mischief that India tested its first nuclear device in May 1974 and now has full capabilities of the nuclear fuel cycle under the devise of civilian nuclear technology? It is beyond the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and still remains outside of these regimes. However, India has a facility-specific safeguards agreement in place with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowing it to participate in global civilian nuclear technology commerce.

A country that instigated arms race in this Asian region since 50’s and still giving such irresponsible statements when super powers like U.S and Russia are heading for Global Zero albeit at a snail’s pace? A country who stole Canadian-supplied fuel for research and generating power to make nuclear weapons under the disguise for civilian nuclear technology and giving statements like they have been pursuing their nuclear programme at their own? Where there is no long-term radioactive waste disposal? A country having nuclear deal but yet hasn’t fulfilled nuclear liability law? Where demonstrators block roads in solidarity with kudunkulam protestors? Are the lives and future of the Indian lives inferior to all this? Aren’t such statements showing that the nuclear industry is run by unreliable and fanatic elements in India? And also the shocking aspect of Daily Mail’s reports is that some Indian nuclear scientists are reportedly assisting Naxal rebels to learn to utilise and transport uranium. Isn’t it a serious concern to think on if and only if they are working on civilian nuclear technology?

Simple answers to all these are that not only North Korean and Iranian nuclear programmes are a concern, but the worry should be the rate of proliferation everywhere. Nuclear sales may benefit the corporate bottom line but the spread of nuclear technology and ultimately nuclear weapons undermines the security of the planet.

*Usman Ali Khan is a graduate of Defence and Strategic Studies. The area of interests are Dynamics of nuclear proliferation, Tactical nuclear weapons, Disarmament, South Asia and Middle Eastern regional politics. The writer frequently writes on different national and international newspapers. The views expressed are the author’s own.

Photo: Truck-mounted Missiles on display at the IDEAS 2008 defence exhibition in Karachi, Pakistan Credit: Wikimedia Commons