Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Smiling Buddha

"If the radiance of a thousand suns were to suddenly burst forth at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one". "Now I am become death, shatterer of worlds, annihilating all things". Robert Oppenheimer misquoting Lord Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita.

After our first so called "Smiling Buddha" "peaceful nuclear experiment" at the Pokhran test range in the Rajasthani desert in 1974, we took another 24 years before we fully came out of the closet with our badly kept secret and declared ourselves a nuclear power by conducting five more underground nuclear tests as part of the Pokhran II Shakti series.

What disappoints me is that we basically more or less rested on our laurels in the long intervening years between the two tests and waited for circumstances for force us into a new round of testing. It was only in the mid to late 80's, when it was increasingly becoming clear the pakistan was close to getting the bomb as signaled by the Pressler Amendment, that India was finally stung into action and into building a credible nuclear deterrent.

Though we rightfully refused to sign the discriminatory and hypocritical nuclear non proliferation treaty and comprehesive test ban treaty, which even Bush administration has refused to ratify, we still always seem to like to constrain ourselves, this time by putting a moratorium on further tests in order to appease world opinion.
Between 1998 and 2002, when we were under sanctions, we should have taken advantage of the situation in the knowledge there was little more the world powers could do and gone ahead and tested many more types of nuclear devices. Though i'm by no means a nuclear expert it seems inconceivable to me that after only five tests we should be satisfied of our current capabilities, especially considering that the US which though already having conducted well over a thousand tests has signaled its desire to once again resume testing, this time tactical nuclear weapons.

Now that we've missed this opportunity and with the sanctions lifted thanks to 9/11, further nuclear tests are a much more difficult proposition, especially considering the U.S stand off with Iran and North Korea over their programs. Though if one or more of these nations do eventually decide to go nuclear, therefore smashing open the exclusive nuclear weapon club, India could use this as a pretext to conduct further test of its own.

Another self imposed constraint i don't understand is our no first use policy, which contradicts our stated threat perception. At the time of the tests, defence minister George Fernandes stated like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel before him during the maudlin days of "Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai", that China was our number one enemy and that the tests were in response to a legitimate threat from this hostile neighbour as opposed to Pakistan where we already had a vastly superior conventional force.

If China is indeed our number one threat, India must also renounce our no first use policy and develop an effective first strike capability with the development of the Agni III and other longer range missiles, we will be able to strike deep inside China and target all its major cities, to deter any aggression and hopefully quicken the progress of talks for the settlement of our border disputes. With China on our doorstep for the first time in history due to its conquest of the historical buffer of Tibet and with the Himalayas no longer the formidable barrier they once were, the chinese are in effect encircling us using Pakistan and Gwador in the west and Bangladesh and Burma in the east. But im sure two can play at this game by India increasing its strategic military cooperation with Japan and Vietnam in order to frustrate Chinese designs.

On the other hand, if we continue to rely solely on our second strike capability, i believe India should make it plainly clear that in the case of a nuclear war with Pakistan, after wiping Pakistan off the world map for good, historical wrongs must and will also be righted in a final act of reckoning, with inevitable strikes on Saudi Arabia, the financial and historical ideological backer of Pakistan as well as on China for being the source of crucial nuclear technology transfers (ie; Uranium for enrichment and bomb design) . Plus in the case of possible nuclear retaliation against Saudi Arabia, it would be the ideal opportunity for that arab recluse "allah" to show himself and intervene like he was so prone to doing 1400 years ago. Though one may be accused of talking way too casually about such terrible hypothetical scenarios, nonetheless i believe if India (god forbid) is ever caught in such a eventuality, if we are going down well take others with us.

P.S: (Why did Pakistan take a full two weeks after the Indian tests to explode its own atomic bomb? Because they had to translate all the foreign manuals).
This applies even more so for their new coat of paint North Korean and Chinese made missiles which they like to name after the foreign invaders that conquered India and thus themselves also. Perhaps it would be more appropriate if they named their missiles "Uncle Mao" "and "Dear Leader Kim".


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