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Updated: August 23, 2013 00:19 IST

Nuclear deterrence is overrated

Ramesh Thakur
Comment (58)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Hindu

The real risks and costs of having these weapons, both monetary and human, far outweigh their security benefits

The Indian Navy has figured in three recent, global news items. The launch of the indigenously developed aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, expected to be operational by 2018, makes India only the fifth country after the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and France to have such capability. The diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhurakshak caught fire and exploded, causing the tragic death of 18 crew. In the early hours of August 10, the reactor on the nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant (“slayer of enemies”), with underwater ballistic launch capability, went critical.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, launched the 6,000-tonne Arihant in Visakhapatnam on July 26, 2009. In time, it was said, with a fleet of five nuclear-powered submarines and three to four aircraft carrier battle groups, a 35-squadron air force and land-based weapons systems, India would emerge as a major force in the Indian Ocean, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.

The strategic rationale is to acquire and consolidate the three legs of land, air and sea-based nuclear weapons to underpin the policy of nuclear deterrence. Unfortunately, however, the whole concept of nuclear deterrence is deeply flawed.

Desensitised

Nuclear weapons are uniquely destructive and hence uniquely threatening to our common security. There is a compelling need to challenge and overcome the reigning complacency on the nuclear risks and dangers, to sensitise policy communities to the urgency and gravity of nuclear threats and the availability of non-nuclear alternatives as anchors of national and international security.

A nuclear catastrophe could destroy us any time. Because we have learnt to live with nuclear weapons for 68 years, we have become desensitised to the gravity and immediacy of the threat. The tyranny of complacency could yet exact a fearful price if we sleepwalk our way into a nuclear Armageddon. It really is long past time to lift the shroud of the mushroom cloud from the international body politic.

The normative taboo against this most indiscriminately inhumane weapon ever invented is so comprehensive and powerful that under no conceivable circumstances will its use against a non-nuclear state compensate for the political costs. This explains why nuclear powers have accepted defeat at the hands of non-nuclear states rather than escalate armed conflict to the nuclear level.

Nor can they be used for defence against nuclear-armed rivals. The mutual vulnerability of such rivals to second-strike retaliatory capability is so robust for the foreseeable future that any escalation through the nuclear threshold would be mutual national suicide.

Their only purpose and role, therefore, is mutual deterrence. In order to deter an attack by a more powerful nuclear adversary, a nuclear armed state must convince its stronger opponent of the ability and will to use nuclear weapons if attacked. But if the attack does occur, escalating to nuclear weapons will worsen the scale of military devastation even for the side initiating nuclear strikes. Because the stronger party believes this, the existence of nuclear weapons may add an extra element of caution, but does not guarantee immunity for the weaker party. If Mumbai or Delhi was hit by another major terrorist attack which India believed had Pakistan connections, the pressure for some form of retaliation could overwhelm any caution about Pakistan having nuclear weapons.

Limited India-Pakistan war

The putative security benefits of nuclear deterrence have to be assessed against the real risks, costs and constraints, including human and system errors. Modelling by atmospheric scientists shows that a limited, regional India-Pakistan nuclear war using 50 Hiroshima-size bombs each would, in addition to direct blast, heat and radiation deaths, severely disrupt global food production and markets and cause a nuclear war-induced famine that kills up to a billion people around the world.

The extra caution induced by the bomb means that the subcontinent’s nuclearisation raised the threshold of tolerance of Pakistan’s hostile mischief, like provocations on the Line of Control and cover for cross-border terrorism. Yet, India did not need to buy deterrence against China. The best available evidence shows that China’s nuclear weapons, doctrine, posture and deployment patterns are designed neither to coerce others nor to fight a nuclear war with the expectation of winning, but solely to counter any attempt at nuclear blackmail.

The role of nuclear weapons in having preserved the long peace of the Cold War is debatable. How do we assess the relative weight and potency of nuclear weapons, west European integration, and west European democratisation as explanatory variables in that long peace? There is no evidence that either side had the intention to attack but was deterred from doing so by the other side’s nuclear weapons. Moscow’s dramatic territorial expansion across eastern Europe behind Soviet Red Army lines took place in the years of U.S. atomic monopoly, 1945–49. Conversely, the Soviet Union imploded after, although not because of, gaining strategic parity.

Historical evidence

To those who nonetheless profess faith in the essential logic of nuclear deterrence, a simple question: are you prepared to prove your faith by supporting the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran in order to contribute to the peace and stability of the Middle East, which presently has only one nuclear-armed state?

It is equally contestable that nuclear weapons buy immunity for small states against attack by the powerful. The biggest elements of caution in attacking North Korea — if anyone has such intention — lies in uncertainty about how China would respond, followed by worries about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s conventional capability to hit populated parts of South Korea. Pyongyang’s puny arsenal of useable nuclear weapons is a distant third factor in the deterrence calculus.

Against the contestable claims of utility, there is considerable historical evidence that we averted a nuclear catastrophe during the Cold War as much owing to good luck as wise management. The 1962 Cuban missile crisis is the most graphic example of this. Australia’s most respected strategic analyst, former Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Dibb, argues that Moscow and Washington also came close to a nuclear war in 1983. Frighteningly, Washington was not even aware of this scare at the time and any nuclear war then would have used much more destructive firepower than in 1962.

Compared to the sophistication and reliability of the command and control systems of the two Cold War rivals, those of some of the contemporary nuclear-armed states are dangerously frail and brittle.

Nor do nuclear weapons buy defence on the cheap: the Arihant cannot substitute for the loss of the Sindhurakshak. They can lead to the creation of a national security state with a premium on governmental secretiveness and reduced public accountability. In terms of opportunity costs, heavy military expenditure amounts to stealing from the poor. Nuclear weapons do not help to combat India’s real threats of Maoist insurgency, terrorism, poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and corruption. Across the border especially, there is the added risk of proliferation to extremist elements through leakage, theft, state collapse and state capture.

NPT

The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) has kept the nuclear nightmare at bay for 45 years. The number of countries with nuclear weapons is still, just, in single digit. There has been substantial progress in reducing the numbers of nuclear warheads. But the threat is still acute with a combined stockpile of 17,000 nuclear weapons, 2,000 of them on high alert. The NPT’s three-way bargain between non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses is under strain. The Conference on Disarmament cannot agree on a work plan. The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty has not entered into force. Negotiations on a fissile materials cut-off treaty are no nearer to starting. The export control regime was damaged by the India–U.S. civil nuclear agreement.

The net result? The world is perched precariously on the edge of the nuclear precipice. As long as anyone has nuclear weapons, others will want them; as long as nuclear weapons exist, they will be used again some day by design, accident, miscalculation or rogue launch; any nuclear exchange anywhere would have catastrophic consequences for the whole world. We need authoritative road maps to walk us back from the nuclear cliff to the relative safety of a progressively, less-heavily nuclearised, and eventually, a denuclearised world.

Our goal should be to make the transition from a world in which nuclear weapons are seen by some countries as central to maintaining security, to one where they become increasingly marginal, and eventually entirely unnecessary. Like chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons too cannot be disinvented. But like them, nuclear weapons too can be controlled, regulated, restricted and outlawed under an international regime that ensures strict compliance through effective and credible inspection, verification and enforcement.

(Ramesh Thakur is director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Australian National University. The article is based on a paper presented at the “Arms Control and Strategic Stability” conference in Beijing, August 8–9.)

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The only part of the entire article I agree with is the last
paragraph. Any sane person would agree that we and all the life on our
plant would be a LOT better off without nuclear stockpiles; however in
a world where historically the most powerful nations are nuclear
capable (it is no coincidence that all the permanent members of the UN
Security Council are also the biggest nuclear powers), it is silly to
imagine India not making itself nuclear capable. The ONLY way to put
this genie back in the bottle is for the permanent members to take the
lead. let the US and Russia first reduce their stockpiles from the
thousands to the hundreds, and then with the other powers to zero
while simultaneously strengthening controls. Fortunately, the extreme
difficulty in refining fissile materials and their rarity makes this
possible, but it won't happen without leadership of those same nations
that nuclearized the world to begin with.

from:  Ninad
Posted on: Aug 24, 2013 at 12:21 IST

There is an alarming rise of comments of the nature which suggest that
we better cultivate good relationship with our neighbors. There seems
to be no recognition of the fact that two hands are required for a
clap. India is not and has not been a hawkish country with
expansionist aims. It is not insecure like some Islamic republics or
the North Korean leadership that it has to appear strong for which it
needs massive military spending. Since its independence, India has
been focused inward and in keeping its borders from foreign
penetration. However, our two belligerent neighbors have been far
from being friendly. We shouldn't want a fight but we shouldn't fear
fighting one that is being thrust upon us. For this purpose, we do
need our submarines, nuclear deterrence, fighters, carriers and
missiles. As Teddy Roosevelt said, if we must choose between
righteousness and peace, we must choose righteousness.

from:  Palaniappan Rajaram
Posted on: Aug 24, 2013 at 08:27 IST

An oversimplified analysis. Worth only for an an Academic Essay.

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Aug 24, 2013 at 07:58 IST

It seems these people are using fascinating wording with close eyes.
How can we forgo the chines movement in Himalaya area and Pakistan
occupied kashmir. When a bad and dirty mentality neighbors who
always take the benefit of our weakness, whether it will be right to
leave our security aside and think about the other things. we
should not forget that we can fight to poverty and such other things
if we survive in the present escalating security development of
situation. Can we continue such sophisticating talk? We better
understand this atleast at this moment.

from:  TUSHAR MAROLIA
Posted on: Aug 24, 2013 at 07:37 IST

NO, The Nuke Deterent is NOT OVERRATED. In fact it is a MUST. The NUKE DEAL pushed down the throat of this nation single handedly by the PM (Only and only to please them in Washington) has in fact renderd India weak and almost as a colony by becoming totally helpless allowing and facilitating Dictate, Arrogance, Maddling, interfernce to destroy everything from Economy to Education, to Security and Independence. One of the MAJOR REASONS CHINA managed to leapfrog in overall progress with stability is that being a Formidable Military and NUKE POWER, it has MANAGED TO KEEP ALL FOREIGN POWER DICTATE AND MEDDLING AT BAY and aggressively pursue independent policies that is in interest of their national and not to please or suit or help or support any outsiders.

from:  R. Mehta
Posted on: Aug 24, 2013 at 04:06 IST

what about us attacking iraq on false pretext of possesing weapons of mass destruction? Why will the few nuclear powered country decide the fate of the world.If those who posses nuclear weapons don't destroy them, then all other countries can also posses them.

from:  Saurav
Posted on: Aug 24, 2013 at 00:16 IST

What author has completely missed is the point that Pakistan was already in possession of nuclear stockpile when Pokaran II happened.Need of the hour is Missile Defense System to secure our major cities and it is easier in case of short range missile with lower trajectory as compared to those with long range or ICBM's.

from:  Manish
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 23:55 IST

I completely agree with the author on the point that the world needs to be denuclearised. But the problems lie in the absence of ways to achieve this. If this proposition is to succeed, it needs to be implemented comprehensively and without room for any loopholes or exceptions. Their would still be problems, the majority of which, I suspect, would arise from states like Pakistan and North Korea. A foolproof plan needs to be made to systematically downsize nuclear stockpiles until we can breathe in a workd free of such heinous objects of destruction.

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 23:53 IST

It is wildly inaccurate to comment that 'Moscow’s dramatic territorial
expansion across eastern Europe behind Soviet Red Army lines took
place in the years of U.S. atomic monopoly, 1945–49'. The war in
Europe ended in May 1945 with the Soviets having conquered Berlin and
Vienna by then. Atom bombs were subsequently exploded in August 1945
over two Japanese cities. Incidentally, atomic parity along with the
formation of a Communist China might have encouraged Communists to
invade South Korea in 1950.
Further, Muammar Gaddafi became history after surrendering his atomic
ambitions. North Korea had developed atomic deterrence, so it survives
despite outright US hostility. Kim Jong-il had got it right, while
Ramesh Thakur needs to realize the eternal truth: 'Speak softly, but
carry a big stick'.

from:  Man Singh
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 22:58 IST

I always believed there is a limit to everything. the author has just shown me the limit of stupidity. well done.

from:  suresh
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 22:28 IST

There is an arrogance in my countrymen that I detest. India was the first country to start
nuclear arms race in South Asia. Not pakistan. India is not Red China. India had generally
cordial relations with most powers, even when relations with US were worst, (1971) there
was no plan for US invasion of india. Furthermore, india had good relations with Russia to
offset the US. China developed nukes when relations with all powers were bad. This was still
foolish, but does not give india any need to follow them. Furthermore india is supposedly
democratic, and has a legitimacy and thus a responsibility that far exceeds the communist
party in china. Mao was quite willing to sacrifice half his population for the chance of a victory
in a nuclear war with USA. He said so repeatedly. Even in the Great Leap Forward he said
that half of china might have today. A truly democratic country should not take the same risks
as a military regime in China. In 1998 india was again the instigator for testing.

from:  Arman raina
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 21:43 IST

India has been largerly a peace loving nation and is advocating non profileration. All India says is "Any decision on CTBT must be uniform and should include the so called elite nations". Also I would like to remind the author on the circumstances in which India was forced to join the nuclear bandwagon.

from:  Saravana
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 21:23 IST

Ramesh thakuar , how you say "Nuclear weapons do not help to combat India’s real threats of poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and corruption " . If you have safe & secured life , then only you can focus on the above issues . If life is threaten you will talk about india like this form an alien nation .Come to india and make a change .

from:  karthi
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 21:05 IST

Q No 1.If Iraq had a nuclear bomb and ICBM, does Bush have had a
courage to invade Iraq and hang Saddam(They didn't even had WMD's)?
Q No 2.If India had nuclear capability, does China have had invaded in
1962 and captured a lot of Indian territory?
In my opinion war has always been about ones ambition or economics
(resources) or mixture of both. Its essential to understand human
nature and relationship between countries. Humans can be friends not
countries. Countries have relationship of buyer and/or seller. More
powerful country demand and get better share of trade on negotiation
table. How come US citizens have more purchase power parity(PPP) than
rest(mostly) of the world(Is rest of the world lazy). In my opinion,
when US negotiators sit on the table armed with the most powerful
offensive force in their pocket, they get the lion's share. Thats how
Russia stood back on its legs after disintegration. Thats what China
is doing. Why should India lag behind? Preach this to US and not us.

from:  Santosh
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 21:04 IST

Its better to built a productivity channel rather than importing goods under defence sector , it may hits our economy badly amid global economic crisis.

from:  Charan Reddy
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 20:51 IST

"Yet, India did not need to buy deterrence against China. The best
available evidence shows that China’s nuclear weapons, doctrine,
posture and deployment patterns are designed neither to coerce others
nor to fight a nuclear war with the expectation of winning, but solely
to counter any attempt at nuclear blackmail." This particular line of
argument in favour of China smacks of the writer's intellectual
bankruptcy when he signals that India is clearly wrong when it tries
to save itself from China, whereas China is such a noble state that it
has never been an aggressor and certainly China has been a victim of
Nuclear cloud just like Japan. What a sold out people are filling the
intellectual think tanks around the world.. or maybe he was sponsored
to write such crap to provide for his family.

from:  Atul K Bhaskar
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 20:49 IST

I read the 28 comments first and then the article. My first reaction
is: Muddle-headedness, thy name is Ramesh Thakur. He has not given us
one reason why the N-5 will consider disarming themselves. There is
no prospect, near or distant, that they will. Why is he frightening
India into believing that nuclear weapons are dangerous toys in its
hands? In the years before Pokhran II (1998), China was accustomed to
pushing India around on every conceivable occasion, but not in the
years since. Pakistan thinks it is safe because it has nuclear
weapons. It does not realize that a war, whether nuclear or
conventional, has to be fought with economic resources more than
military resources. In that respect its record is weak, to put it
mildly. Nothing has happened in the years since then to induce India
to think that the world has become a reasonable place and justifies
discarding of nuclear weapons.

from:  V. C. Bhutani
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 19:00 IST

Article is spot on target. "Islamabad has to realise the change in the geo-strategic situation in the region and the world" was the statement issued by then Home Minister LK Advani in 1998 post-Pokharan explosions. Pakistan took the opportunity to go nuclear and from then onwards the terrorists attacks from Pakistan on India has only increased. In fact, Pakistan even dared to occupy India's Kargil territory post-Pokharan, which it had never dared to from 1962 till 1998. Still Pakistan was able to get away because international pressure always falls on India to avoid a war between nuclear rivals. This is clear evidence that nuclear weapons have helped to reduce the security for India post 1998. Pakistan clearly took advantage of situation created by some devious leaders coaxing Indian middle classes with nuclear-deterrence theories.

from:  Janarddan
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 18:36 IST

Besides the astronomical cost in manufacture of nuclear weapons, any
probable use or any accident will be extremely disastrous. This is
equally true for nuclear power plants.Apart from many accidents in the
past, the worst being that of Chernobyl, the recent one in Fukushima in
2011 have caused perpetual catastrophe to human race in general and
whose adverse impact on health will continue for years to come.

from:  dipendutta
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 18:28 IST

Since the very first use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only people who tried to use it, as an offensive weapon is Musharraf during Kargil Crisis. If it wasn’t for Bill Clinton, there was a high probability that Musharraf would have tried to use the weapon. He and his ilk are among the most incompetent in the world and they can only be restrained by having a second strike capability. As long as Pakistan is keeping nuclear weapons, India should maintain a capability to wipe out Pakistan. Pious platitudes by Ramesh Thakur have only value in writing concept papers.

from:  Samelson
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 18:17 IST

The author should be asking other nuclear weapons states to give up their nuclear weapons and means of delivery of the same first. And would Australia consider disbanding its mulitary and not allow other countries from testing weapons in its territory?. It has no known enemy.

from:  kalyanam
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 17:25 IST

The author should talk about Cold war which never went to real war
because of MAD. Yes conflicts happened with proxies non-nuclear
countries (US-Vietnam, USSR-Afghanistan) but the nuclear weapons
never went to full blown war and possibly involving the entire world
with them. Here Nuclear Deterrence worked well.

But the real question - Do these people expect India to abandon its
nuclear weapons while our neighbours keep them? Surely is this not
asking for a little too much.

from:  Hemant
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 16:30 IST

No doubt about this that we are starting arms race in the region and we
are purchasing a Raw Russian technology that we do not know how to
handle. Our government should be more sensible and have friendly
relations with all the nations in the world including our relations.
These kinds of contracts are burden on our budget.

from:  Aneel Kumar
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 15:49 IST

What sanctimonious codwallops spun from planet fantasy. Nuclear weapons in an evoving geopolitical world is essential.It wll be adviseable for the author to preach to vile Pakistani and bullying Chinese. Nuclear Weapons are alwys considered a defensive weapons and not offensive.

from:  DILIP
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 15:41 IST

Past years have been silent,although conflict between nations have prevailed round the years.But,still no carnage has been figured out between nations.This unravel there is something on the both sides that make them reluctant toward combat.Whether it's Europe,Russia,USA or Asia,only one weapon has dominated throughout all the calamitous instances that is Nuclear weapon.So, WMD has averted many wars.Fewer politicians hold negotiation power and many have lost their intellectual power-disputes between North America and South America.In such state-of-siege only Nuclear power recedes them from war.Many nation have developed themselves as recalcitrant and they always remain on the abyss of war with neighbouring state,so it's better to propitiate them by neglecting them and their actions, deluding ourselves that we have to deal anytime in future with these marauders.Nuclear power have played a havoc in Japan after the Tsunami waves had adieu them.Nuclear power must be handled with great care.

from:  Atul
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 15:24 IST

Very good article!I never looked nuclear weapons this way!

from:  Nitin
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 15:22 IST

Nuclear weapons must be marginalized and become unusable. However from M.THAKUR,we would have liked a word, a few lines about the position of India, which has long campaigned for a world without nuclear weapons in the 50s!This is an unfortunate omission,in my opinion. Then it seems wrong to say that the choice of the nuclear option decided by India is linked to its relations with Pakistan. Simply refer to the development program of the Indian missiles to contradict his statement.In summary do not point the finger on the choice made by India.This is a choice that was dictated by circumstances. Of course for a country that has signed the declaration of Bandung, one might have expected something else.But do not despair of the country ruled by Ashoka!

from:  Mayoura
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 14:37 IST

What you are doing is stating a problem without giving solutions. What
is the point in it? Do you have a solution? If not, don't raise the
problem. It only wastes everyone's time

from:  AmarJiith
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 14:05 IST

It is very sensible analysis by Ramesh Thakur. I appreciate his cogent logic and arguments
on the futility of raising and maintaining nuclear arsenal as an effective defense strategy . It
is certainly a misfortune that this nuclear weapon was invented in the first place and as
expressed by him in concluding lines, it cannot be disinvented, but need to be controlled;
even controlling is a debatable solution, as we come across abhorring incidences of 'sarin'
gas deployment in the Syrian conflict. Such chemicals still confine destruction to a 'limited
sphere compared to a nuclear weapon activation by a sick minded dictator/ a disillusioned
fanatic that could destroy the entire face of the earth; it is just waiting to happen sooner or
later with so many desperate elements working towards gaining access to the deadly
weapons. Under the circumstances, least one can do is to adopt a non nuclear weapons
policy like Japan and work towards total nuclear disarmament.

from:  M.R.Sampath
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 13:32 IST

Everything has pros & cons, so has nuclear warheads. For regional
balance in South Asia it's utmost essential that India must increase its
nuclear capability. In case of am unprecedented attack from our hostile
neighbors we must be in a position to defend ourselves. About investing
large chunk of our budget in defense & about poverty in India, Indian
lack the ability to fight & eradicate poverty. Do not blame on nuclear
programs for poverty.

from:  Tushar
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 13:17 IST

Are we living in ideal world ? Do you think any rational when our
soldiers are killed. Do you think that Our beloved neighbors are all
brothers for us?
If you think so, I guess you are in dream. And please wake up.
We have to protect ourselves and the government is doing right thing.

from:  Abhi
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 13:04 IST

The concept of nuclear deterrence has well been addressed in Pak-India
primarily in the south Asian environment. It is instrumental in making
countries to avoid a full scale war with each other but not played
much pivotal role in removing the hostilities, tensions and low scale
violent conflicts. India’s inclination to build and improve its
conventional and non-conventional forces certainly made Pakistan to
devise counter mechanisms. Freezing the status of nuclear deterrence,
the focus is now shift on conventional aggressive building set up like
cold start doctrine which shakes the very security of Pakistan. The
region feared many times to be at the brink of nuclear or total war
because of Indian hostile advancements. Nuclear deterrence is there
but questionable when military conventional set up are progressed.

from:  Dina
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 12:56 IST

the article seems very good but unfortunately more idealistic than
realistic. may be the writer is true that nuclear deterrence has not as
much sense as we attaching to it but, we should not forget the 13
nuclear warnings of which 9 are issued against the non nuclear countries
by the nuclear powers. so before saying anything on this issue, the
nuclear powers must take the responsibility of disarmament especially
nuclear disarmament and correct line on NPT which needs the nuclear
powers to reduce their weapons

from:  azhar kabir
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 12:55 IST

One point which author has rightly pointed out is that we are being a
part of this fanatic nuclear arm race at the cost of millions of hungry
stomach ..in India just to get ride of lingering fear of our neighbor's
muscle flexing we are maintaining arm arsenal that eats a substantial
amount of our budget which if spent on social sector could help in
providing a dignified life to the millions .

from:  rajshree
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 12:23 IST

It is true the history of this civilization has been defined by the
likes of traitors like Jaichand & Mir Qasim not by its heroes. Dear Mr
Ramesh do not write for your white masters. come and live in India then
walk the walk

from:  harish
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 12:14 IST

Neuclear weapons are best used when not used. India needs them for same reason why China has them - for securing againt war and to avoid territorial threats.

from:  Piyush
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 12:01 IST

With my experience in dealing with defence departments,I can only say that our forces are ill equipped to handle such weaponry in view of their not adhereing to norms and discipline and competence

from:  atis
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 11:51 IST

Mr Thakur has presented a mature point of view. Nukes are dangerous especially when exploded. When not exploded, they are a means of strategic and emotional blackmail.
On the other hand nations have to protect themselves against this real threat. China does not pose a nuclear threat to India since it has conventional superiority and its proximity to India. Pakistan on the other hand is an unstable nation comprising of some crazy individuals. Imagine what would have happened if Pakistan had got the bomb before 1971. India would have lost a lot more besides Kashmir. The sense lies in not over valuing or under valuing them. Indian approach is correct though our nuclear doctrine needs to be reviewed and enunciated afresh.

from:  Manjit Sahota
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 11:45 IST

The real risks and costs of having these weapons, both monetary and
human, far outweigh their security benefits.India accounts for world’s
poorest nation, says World Bank. It’s not a shining India as it is
widely perceived in India or projected in the world and that is a
ground reality. An Indian, Navjyot Singh wrote “a global powerhouse
India with a dark underbelly of thousands of poor dying or living in
chronic hunger or a globally competitive India with majority of its
population well fed and thinking of issues beyond mere struggle for
next morsel of food.The is no need to invest on thses high rated
defence equipment.

from:  sandy Kappor
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 11:36 IST

Kudos to the author,but one point the author is missed about is having
UN like central authority , my opinion toward central authority is as
below:

Nobody can stop from using nuclear and chemical weapons once they
use,you can witness the same in Syria,What UN is doing .It cannot
dictate against US ,UN can send its own army in Male to stop terrorist
activities why cannot it send its army to Syria ,there were so many
meeting, not even a single meeting held to unanimously opposing the
acts taking place in Syria.

from:  manohar pulaparthi
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 11:10 IST

Mr Obama made a speech in Prague in April 2009 to try to make a world without nuclear weapons. In this speech he made clear “the U.S. Must seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
After the end of World War Second the world has promoted to eliminate the production and possessing of nuclear weapons among the member states of the United Nations. Non proliferation Treaty has played an important role in creating a world without nuclear weapons. Moreover, after the end of Cold War many people in the world have participated in the movement to build a world without nuclear weapons on a global scale. However, unfortunately their objectives and appeals are not realized today. Building a world without nuclear weapons is a very difficult task to realize in the near future. The important thing is that in spite of the speech delivered by Mr Obama the U.S and Russia have the largest stock of nuclear weapons and both countries are interested in possessing and strengthening their military power further. In particular ,the U.S. has a strong interest and zeal in maintaining her role as a world policeman in a multipolar world by producing and keeping nuclear weapons.
The strong interest of the U.S. in producing and maintaining nuclear weapons is closely linked to the political and economic structure of the U.S. Looking at the function and role of Military-industrial complex of the United States, there is one question – how can one define Military-Industrial complex? Military-Industrial Complex is a phase used to signify a comfortable relationship between parties that are charged to manage wars and companies that produce weapons and equipment for war. The fact is that military industries offer a great number of job opportunity for American workers. Moreover, they are contributing to creating not only for an innovative technologies which can be applied for civilian products but for producing a highly sophisticated military weapons.
For example China is increasing investment in a array of areas, including nuclear weapons, long range missiles, submarines, aircraft carriers and cyberwarfare.
When we look at the realities we face in our globalised world, I think a world without nuclear weapons will not be possible in the near future. But would the world be safer without nuclear weapons? I do not know that.

from:  kurt waschnig
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 10:48 IST

Completely biased article. Why doesn't your group preach this to the
United States, UK, France, and Russian Federation? Why do these dangers
not apply to them but only apply in case of any other nation having
these weapons? Once these 5 countries have reduced their stockpile from
tens of thousands to under one hundred with complete and open inspection
by Indian scientists of any part or facility of these nations, then
India can consider joining them for future cuts.

from:  Gurmail Gill
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 10:41 IST

Mr Ramesh Thakur has well explained about the need for disarmament
and i completely appreciate the views but my opinion is little
different: -
1)During 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, USA aiding 'special' ally
Pak sent a nuclear warhead ship across the banks of Bengal despite of
Ms Indira Gandhi's visit to USA.
This construes that a non-nuclear weapon state was threatened and
retaliatory action with nuclear weapons was sought on India by USA if
we attacked Bangladesh. The Nuclear experiment in 1974 instigated USA
& UK and made them send their envoy Henry Kissinger to India and Pak
for not making a bomb. A state who totally destroyed sovereignty of
other state at one stance during 1971 was now resorting to diplomatic
missions when saw India heading towards Nuclear Capability.
The argument of Nuclear Detterence becomes clear here.
Although later in 1971 Russia helped by sending its own warhead
across Pak borders.The conventions of CTBT, Fissile material cut off and export etc are
not even signed by some of major P-5 that is the Security Council
council countries and particularly USA. Then due to this these well
meaning conventions have not come into perfect implementations.

Nuclear capability is seen as deterence is a true statement and a
re-conciliatory move by weaker countries in front of the stronger ones.

from:  karan
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 09:44 IST

Awesome article.....well said!

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 09:39 IST

Such an article as this, rife with cliches and other well-worn phrases, is best used as a space
filler in newspapers. This is but merely a rehash of countless essays and articles produced
by several Mr.-Know-it-all intellectuals who have made non-proliferation and disarmament
their cottage industry. Having lost their relevance to the west with
the end of the cold war and the dissappearance of the red threat, they found in South Asia
another convenient bogey to patronize and trouble us with their pontifications on an
imaginary and imminent nuclear armageddon. On reading this piece, with its contradictions
and flawed logic in several places, one gets an impression that the writer is
using this unfortunate accident to flog his hobby horse and dusted up a few old essays and
articles on disarmament and set about reworking them to produce the above piece.

from:  Raghav Iyengar
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 08:34 IST

The author's country enjoys protective nuclear umbrella from the only one to have used nuclear weapons against civilians twice killing, maiming and disabling for life millions. So, it is very easy to preach to the new entrant India which gate-crashed into that exclusivist club. While nuclear weapons are indeed detestable, it is the double-speak of some members of the P-5 which forced India to eventually acquire these weapons after having tried many avenues patiently for decades to banish them. Perhaps, we need to be reminded that as soon as China conducted its first weapon test in 1964, everyone expected India to do the same because India was also capable of doing so as far back as then. It is to India's credit that it eschewed that path but strove to achieve a nuclear-free world. After having failed for three decades, and with nuclear weapon states breathing down its neck, India was forced to demonstrate its capabilities. Therefore, preaching must start from P-5.

from:  Subramanyam Sridharan
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 07:55 IST

I do not accept this defeatist attitude. China will take Arunachal Pradesh with or without Nukes. Might as well destroy or hurt them in the bargain. Same with pak. These 2 believe in attack and attack. Why are Indians playing cautious and defensive all the time??? They mistake this for weakness. Better to meet them with Nukes and let this cesspool part of the world go up in a Nuke Mushroom Cloud.

from:  Sanju
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 07:24 IST

I agree with the writer on a few fronts but not entirely. Nuclear
deterrence is just one end product of nuclear technology development.
Others include power, medical/healthcare-related technology
development, and most importantly several new technologies that may
emerge as by-products which we may have not even realized. Not many
know that technologies such as microwave, memory foam, and long
distance communication were a spin off of NASA research. Also,
correlating nuclear technology to India's problems such as poverty,
malnutrition, insurgency etc does not make sense to me. You are not
just usurping the tax payers money but investing it in the development
of a powerful technology. In the current global scenario, it is
politically difficult for any nation to use nuclear weapons against
any other nation. There is just tremendous political pressure to use
nuclear weapons. Although, it may have catastrophic effects if
mismanaged, with enough discretion, nuclear technology have potential.

from:  S Patke
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 06:49 IST

Is this something new - just peddling old material? India has led the call to ban and delegitimise nuclear weapons for many decades but it's fallen on deaf ears of the so-called P5 and their respective cronies - ie. Australia & European States - who hypocritically advocate the NPT regime! This hypocrism led to rogue states such as Pakistan, Israel and N Korea obtaining these weapons and forcing India down the same route - especially with a Sino-Pak nuclear axis on its doorstep.

from:  josh
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 06:19 IST

I am surprised that this article even finds a place in a distinguished paper like The Hindu. It is full of logical flaws. China can have nuclear weapons because it is there only to prevent nuclear blackmail. The author has no trouble in swallowing this justification. However India cannot have nuclear deterrence because it does not work. He further states that nuclear weapons can never be used against a non nuclear state. Has he not heard of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought the Second world war to a close? As for the NPT, it has not been as successful as proclaimed in addition to being discriminatory. India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa and Brazil are all de facto nuclear states even after the NPT. If the number of nuclear states is still small it is due to the complexity of the technology involved and hardly due to the NPT. Nuclear deterrence has worked. It is exactly the reason why there has been no full scale war between India and Pakistan in spite of Mumbai and Kargil.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 05:55 IST

Nuclear weapons for a country like India are a must. We must modernize and enlarge our arsenal. Indians must learn from her past history.

from:  H.Singh Rathore
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 04:23 IST

It is true that nuclear arsenals bring as much insecurity to its
possessor as to its non-possessor.But inference that they do not lead to
deterrence is faulty.The 1962 Cuban missile crisis was zenith of cold
war and it was saved from becoming hot one due to cagey
deliberations.But this state of armistice was more due to fact that no
political gains could outweigh the devastation caused by nuclear war
than due to sane voices in both confronting sides.

from:  Ajeevak Dharmana
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 02:22 IST

I think the reasoning given in the article is highly flawed. In an ideal world we should not be having any weapons - nuclear or conventional. Weapons cost a lot of money which could be used to fight poverty etc etc. However, we do not live in an ideal world. The realty is that all nations do have armies and some have nuclear weapons as well. Those that do have nuclear weapons do have an advantage. Notice that no one messes with N. Korea. Even if its stock of weapons is small, it can cause massive damage in S. Korea, Japan etc. If Saddam had nuclear weapons it is highly unlikely that we would have seen a war in Iraq. Can India afford not to have a nuclear detterence when Chaina and Paksitan have huge stocks of atomic weapons.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 02:17 IST

Excellent article
Very balanced view points

from:  mahesh
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 01:36 IST

It was a grave mistake for India not pursuing nuclear deterrence from its independence. India has suffered in 1962 and was intimidated since then.
It is urgent for India to match Chinese who has more than 400 weapons, trident capability, and have a far more accurate, long range delivery systems. In addition, Chinese are adding Pakistan's nuclear and delivery systems. China and Pakistan are most hostile and intruding neighbors.
There is a big gap in India's strategic and security systems.
India should reject this flawed narrative, dogmatic suicide.

from:  nirode mohanty
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 01:34 IST

Unfortunately the world order has been modified to nuclear have and have
nots. It has become imperative for some countries to develop or acquire
nuclear weapons just to combat existential threat to their countries.
De-nuclearisation should begin from G5 countries and they alone can set
an example for the rest of the world.

from:  Tara krishna
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 01:26 IST

this is too theoretical an approach put forward by you.In terms of disarmament
countries with nuclear power, it will never happen as you rightfully know USA will
never agree to it and even in your theoretical view put forward disarmament will
occur only if ALL countries with nuclear warheads do it together, which in a
pragmatic stand in todays world is impossible. What we can talk about is how better
to utilize the civil advantages of the nuclear sector within our country and globally.

from:  Satwik Mishra
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 01:19 IST

Sir, Which country were u referring when u said '' This explains why nuclear powers have accepted defeat at the hands of non-nuclear states rather than escalate armed conflict to the nuclear level. ''
And all these things started by america, cuban crisis by putting missiles in Turkey and in Iran by planning a coup in 1953.. and my opinion if America got control remaining countries will... and another thing untill that happens.. we need that fleet of 5 nuclear submarines .. and I hope you'll understand the importance of defense budget than the remaining problems u mentioned, when you r doing slavery to Pakistan or China after loosing a war cause of poor defence budget and maintenance. . Thank u.. so much for a humanitarian article without considering cause and need.. and knowing that rogue lauch won't happen since control is spread to more than 5 people of top offices in country..

from:  RANGANATH
Posted on: Aug 23, 2013 at 01:04 IST
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