Monday, April 7, 2008

Questions for K Subrahmanyam on the nuke deal

K Subrahmanyam, prolific strategic affairs analyst, is again pitching for the nuclear deal. He asks BJP this question, in his article in a tabloid op-ed,"Do they want to wind up the Indian nuclear weapons and civil programme?"

Since he gives the impression that he is worried about our strategic nukes program, I have few questions for Mr Subrahmanyam probing the same:

1. How do you become a nuclear weapons state without nuclear weapons? (I hope he agrees that we still don't have a thermonuclear bomb. Our test of a hydrogen bomb was a dud.)

2. How do you develop nuclear weapons without testing them? (You cannot simulate anything without solid data; 5 tests and a failed one are no good. Nuke deal proscribes testing, indirectly.)

3. Does K think that America will hand in their software code used to simulate tests or provide crucial data to develop our own?

4. How often in the past have we had the raw materials(Uranium here) but not the requisite technology to develop weapons? What were the consequences?

I have been looking for honest answers to these questions from anyone who supports the deal, but in vain.

I believe there's a way out, howsoever improbable. That is, some future govt. will have to renege on the agreement and order testing or development of weapons. This will have to be done when a significant portion of our population would be dependent on nuclear power with billions spent on the infrastructure. Any unilateral abrogation will invite disruption in nuclear fuel supplies alongside other sanctions.

Can a country whose hitherto most fiercely nationalist govt. wilted under pressure from couple hundred airline passengers hijacked by half-dozen terrorists withstand pressure that will come from possible disruption to the lives of millions of its citizens because of broken supply lines of nuclear power fuel? What are the odds that even the strongest of national leader will be willing to put his political future on line for an increasingly out of reach weapons program?

India will be quite advanced if such a situation arises. We probably will have the knowhow, even the resources, but the future generation's hands will have tied because of what is going to be signed today.

Do you support the nuke deal proposition? Would you be kind enough to answer few of my questions above, if not all?


Dirt Digger said...

Very incisive post !
Maybe I can take this opportunity and answer a few,
1. To become a nuclear state, you don't necessarily build the weapon. The implicit part of the deal was America becomes responsible for the deterrence part. In the same way as they support germany and japan.
2. Well,you could buy from the open market and hope the makers have tested it.
3. I doubt this will ever happen.
unless you have an insider.
4. dont know. Probably many times and that's the reason why the pact is signed.
The BJP is a phony nationalistic govt. the NDA was filled with people who did not have the requisite acumen and determination to take action.
It reminds me of the scene in the Godfather when Sonny Corleone plans the execution of the Police cheif and the other dude, he orders his henchmen to ensure the gun is there in the restroom, so that when Michael comes out, he does not come out holding his you-know-what instead of a revolver.

socal said...

Thanks dd(one short of dcubed!).

1.Becoming a nuke state without the weapons? Come on. I don't think we were offered the nuclear umbrella that the Japanese have. I doubt any Indian govt. will ever take that. Even the Japanese have been talking about getting out of that.

2.Nuclear weapons free market? You're talking about Osama's dream come true. The truely advanced stuff is never on the market anyway. To be a viable country we'll have to have our own nuclear weapons. There's no way out except to develop them indigenously.

3.I know. It was a rhetorical question.

4. Strange you'ld say that. Once we sign any such deal we cannot test strategic weapons, which means we cannot develop our own. So essentially signing on the death warrant for Republic of India.

I said it was the best we got so far. I don't doubt there's room for improvement over the NDA performance.