India’s top secret nuclear city

Dec 30th, 2015 | Category: Kashmir News


By Sultan M Hali

A threat for global peace

India made a hullabaloo regarding Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons, convincing the US to coerce Pakistan to give up its battlefield nukes. After failing in its ploy, India is now trying to psyche Pakistani opinion builders into rejecting the tactical nukes through the false premise that even the smallest so-called tactical nuclear weapon will have strategic consequences. It surmises that this kind of weaponisation will likely result in tens of thousands of dead Pakistanis, rather than Indians. Quoting Christine Fair in ‘Pakistan’s army is building an arsenal of “tiny” nuclear weapons—and it’s going to backfire’: “Simply calling them battlefield nuclear weapons does not obviate this serious problem. If Pakistan should use such weapons on India, there is virtually no chance that India will be left responding alone. The international community will most certainly rally around India. The response to Pakistan breaking a nuclear taboo that formed after the Americans used atomic bombs on Japan will most certainly be swift and devastating.”

The fact is that India’s “Cold Start Doctrine” has been stalemated by Pakistan’s “battlefield nukes” to deter India’s blitzkrieg assaults to prevail over Pakistan.

Simultaneously India is raising the bogey of the number of warheads in Pakistan’s arsenal, claiming that Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal, and within the next five to ten years it is likely to double that of India and exceed those of France, the United Kingdom, and China. The equation in nuclear weapons is never matching the number of warheads. The edge is provided by reliable triad of delivery platforms (surface, air and sub-surface) and having a credible second strike capability.

India has also been flogging the dead horse of Dr Khan’s nuclear proliferation case when its own nuclear scientists Dr YSR Prasad and Dr C Surrender Chaudhary, the prime culprits in nuclear proliferation activities to help Iran and North Korea, were put under sanctions by the US State Department on 29th September, 2004, when the State Department took the action under Iran Nonproliferation Act 200o through Public Notice No-4845, notified it in the Federal Register as 69FR 58212 Notice.

The shroud from India’s conspiracy has been lifted by the Centre for Public Integrity (CPI), a non-profit, nonpartisan investigative news organisation in Washington, DC. CPI’s national security managing editor R Jeffrey Smith has contributed to a revealing article titled ‘India Is Building a Top-Secret Nuclear City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons’, originally published on its website.

CPI’s investigations conclude that India has been secretly developing a top secret construction at Challakere, located in India’s southern Karnataka state since early 2012. Nuclear experts opine that this project will be the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic research laboratories, and weapons and aircraft testing facilities when completed by 2017. CPI has firm reasons to believe that the project’s aims are to expand India’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for India’s nuclear reactors, and to help power Indian Navy’s fleet of new submarines.

The investigations reveal a more sinister aim which has been confirmed by retired Indian government officials and independent experts in London and Washington i.e., to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in new hydrogen bombs, also known as thermonuclear weapons, substantially increasing the explosive force of those in its existing nuclear arsenal.

New Delhi has never published a detailed account of its nuclear munitions which it first developed in 1974, and there has been little public notice outside India about the construction at Challakere and its strategic implications.

According to CPI’s sleuths, western analysts, speaking on condition of anonymity, reveal that preparation for this enrichment effort has been underway for four years at a second top secret site known as the Rare Materials Plant, 160 miles to the south of Challakere, near the city of Mysore. Satellite photos of that facility from 2014 have revealed the existence of a new nuclear enrichment complex that is already feeding India’s weapons programme and, some Western analysts maintain, laying the groundwork for a more ambitious thermonuclear weapons project. It is effectively a test bed for Challakere, they say, a proving ground for technology and a place where technicians can practice producing the highly enriched uranium the military would need.

Robert Kelley, who served as the director of the Iraq Action Team at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1992-1993 and 2001-2005, is a former project leader for nuclear intelligence at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. CPI quotes him that after analysing the available satellite imagery, as well as studying open source material on both sites, he opines that India is pursuing a larger thermonuclear arsenal. Its development, he warned, “will inevitably usher in a new nuclear arms race” in a volatile region. Interestingly, India’s scientists claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear weapon in 1998. But the test site preparations director at the time, K Santhanam, said in 2009 that it was a “fizzle”, and canvassed for India retesting its thermonuclear weapon capability.

Western sources monitoring details about how India’s weapons are stored, transported, and protected, and how the radiological and fissile material that fuels them is guarded and warehoused, and the chain of custody, conclude that they remain rudimentary.

American analysts like Bruce Riedel et-al have been surreptitiously raising the spectre of miscreants snatching and grabbing Pakistan’s nukes and endangering the world by threatening to detonate the weapons. Yet after examining nuclear security practices in 25 countries with “weapons-usable nuclear materials”, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit organisation headquartered in Washington, in January 2014 ranked India’s nuclear security practices 23rd, above only Iran and North Korea, way below Pakistan. An NTI analyst who asked to remain unnamed told CPI that India’s score stemmed in part from the country’s opacity and “obfuscation on nuclear regulation and security issues”.

The Occident will have to refrain from treating India as a major market for its weapons and nuclear reactors or looking the other way at its transgression with the aim of creating India as a bulwark against China lest India becomes a Frankenstein’s monster for the rest of the world with its “top secret” nuke establishments.

The article was originally published in Pakistan Today on 24 December 2015.


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