Peaceful dream to nightmare: India’s secret nuclear weapons drive
India’s Secret Nuclear Weapons Program, The Market Oracle, by Marya Mufty, Aug 05, 2012 If there was any arms race in the region, India has won it, at whatever the cost may be. But the claims to have good neighbourly relations, with MFN-status, no-war pact or no-first-use nuclear arsenal are just a dream seemingly never to come true.
In April this year India yanked open the door of the exclusive ICBM (International Ballistic Missile) club with the first test of Agni-V. Now, if DRDO is to be believed, India has quietly gate-crashed into an even more exclusive club of nuclear-tipped submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
The most ironic part of this achievement on part of India is that New Delhi had been able to successfully keep it as a secret ‘black project’. The annual awards function of the
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) the other day
witnessed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handing over the “technology
leadership award” to a scientist, A K Chakrabarti, of the
Hyderabad-based DRDL lab, for the “successful development” of the
country’s first SLBM. This capability has been acquired only by four
nations, the US, Russia, France and China.
Long shrouded in secrecy as a “black project”, unlike the
surface-to-surface nuclear missiles like Agni, the SLBM may now
finally come out of the closet. Called different names at different
developmental phases, which included “Sagarika” for an extended
period, the SLBM in question is the ‘K-15’ missile with a 750-km
strike range. Much like the over 5,000-km Agni-V that will be fully
operational by 2015 after four-to-five “repeatable tests”, the K-15 is
also still some distance away from being deployed. While the SLBM may
be fully-ready and undergoing production now, as DRDO contends after
conducting its test several times from submersible pontoons, its
carrier INS Arihant will take at least a year before it’s ready for
The sea-based nuclear leg in the shape of SLBMs is much more effective
— as also survivable being relatively immune to pre-emptive strikes —
than the air or land ones. Nuclear-powered submarines, which are
capable of operating silently underwater for months at end, armed with
nuclear-tipped missiles are, therefore, considered the most potent and
credible leg of the triad. With even the US and Russia ensuring that
two-thirds of the strategic warheads they eventually retain under arms
reduction agreements will be SLBMs, India with a clear “no-first use”
nuclear doctrine needs such survivable second-strike capability to
achieve credible strategic deterrence.
No comments yet.