Jeffrey LewisIndia: Nuke Test Depends on Consequences

Indian Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar tells the Indian Express that whether India tests or not will depend on the consquences:

Asked about the right to conduct nuclear tests, he said, “in terms of consequences, of course, when we decide to do that, we need to factor in possible consequences.”

Seems like a good reason not to give India a clean exemption at the NSG.

Hat tip to MK.


  1. djysrv (History)

    The Nuclear Suppliers Group is meeting today (9/5) for its final round of talks on India’s request for an exemption from the group’s rules to buy uranium and nuclear technologies.

    Full coverage today on Idaho Samizdat with updates from wire services and reporters at the meeting taking place in Vienna, Austria.

    Scroll down for prior coverage on the same page.

  2. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    As a Nuclear Weapons State, China has the smallest nuclear arsenal – roughly 200 warheads that constitute a minimum means of retaliation.

    To date, China has had no need to significantly alter this posture or to increase their stockpile of weapons, comfortable in the knowledge that it is sufficient for deterrence.

    Top India officials, on the other hand, have openly stated that their aspirations are to build four hundred or more nuclear warheads – a quantity far in excess of the needs to deter or decimate their rival Pakistan.

    Getting an India only “exemption” from Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and not signing the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) will enable India to do just that.

    Resumed Indian nuclear weapons testing will mean that they will perfect thermo-nuclear weapons with multi megaton yields —- effectively the ability to kill millions of people in an urban area with one single warhead.

    Indian ICBMs can now reach most Chinese cities, and with more nuclear testing, India can build miniaturized thermo nuclear warheads that can basically reach any city in the world.

    India tells their neighbors to take a leap of faith and trust India’s intentions to be peaceful and pledge not to conduct more nuclear weapons tests indefinitely into the future.

    Yet at the same time, India have spared no expense and left no stone unturned in pressing to be exempt from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime that every country except India, Pakistan and Israel abide by.

    Prime Minister Singh and President Bush are now both personally calling the leaders of the six “holdout” countries to lobby them to pass the US-India nuclear deal in haste at the NSG.

    This kind of lobbying is normally reserved for issues of great national significance and is inconsistent with India’s claim that their intentions are entirely peaceful and benign.

    If India has no intent to conduct nuclear weapons tests and a nuclear arms buildup, there is no reason why India and the US cannot postpone the deal and return to the NSG with a domestic Indian consensus in favor of a deal that facilitate peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy by India with appropriate international safeguards.

    The political leadership of Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands need support more than ever to block the US-India deal.

    China has a vital interest in limiting a new nuclear arms race in South Asia. It is time for the Chinese political leadership to up the ante, and show that Chinese leaders care enough about the issue to counter Manmohan Singh and G. W. Bush’s pressure on six small, defenseless countries.

    President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jia Bao, and Vice Premier Xi Jinping need to pick up the phone, encourage the leadership of Austria, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands to hold their ground, and reassure them that China stands ready to step in and mitigate whatever damage India and the US might threaten them with.

  3. MK (History)

    plz note that Kakodker said “when,” not “if.”

  4. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    China has to be prepared for the contingency that the last 6 holdouts would cave into Indian and US pressure at the NSG.

    At that point, China will have no choice but to stand up and use their veto on the NSG exemption for the US-India deal.

  5. Pradeep

    To those buying into China having only 200 warheads. I have the Taj Mahal for sale.

    I apologize. This has no bearing on the discussion, but couldnt let such false propoganda to go scott free.

    Getting back to the topic, a question for the knowledgeable experts, “How does denying India an NSG waiver help the Non-prol cause”. Really. So far India’s record on NP causes in actual spirit inspite of being out the NPT has been far stellar than those in it. Other than NZ, which I believe is fronting for China, many NSG signatories are actually guilty of damning complicity in illicit nuclear trade. And in this instance, “Illicit”, carries real meaning.

    This is not to say, two wrongs make a right. But first, please acertain what this waiver really acheives. It does require some out of the box thinking. Which I agree is hard to do for many.


  6. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    Dear President Hu,

    I understand President Bush telephoned you to solicit China’s support for the US-India Nuclear Exemption Deal at the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). While I am not in possession of a transcript of the conversation, here is a list of items that I am sure President Bush did not mention to you but that I am sure the Chinese delegates to the NSG, can confirm for you:

    – The proposed “exemption” from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) offers no certain sanctions on India if India resumed testing of nuclear weapons.

    – At present, India’s ability to build and expand their nuclear arsenal is limited by domestic supplies of uranium and their voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapons testing.

    – If India is granted the “exemption”, India will have the potential to divert 100% of their domestic (non-safeguarded) fissionable materials to weapons production while remaining entirely within the letter of the agreement.

    – India, under such circumstances, will be able to field a much larger arsenal of upwards to 1,000 nuclear warheads

    – Once India resumes nuclear weapons testing, it is a matter of time before they perfect thermo-nuclear weapons and those kiloton warheads become megaton city busters.

    – India is one of four nations (US, Russia, Israel) that have developed a rudimentary anti-Ballistic missile system that can potentially give their decision makers enough confidence to believe they can absorb and survive an attack by a small nuclear power like Pakistan or China.

    – India has deployed ballistic missiles that put most Chinese cities within range; and has under development missiles and other delivery vehicles that put virtually every city in the world in range.

    – In the “worst case” scenario, India could be armed with 1,000 thermo-nuclear warheads with the capacity to wipe out 1,000 major cities worldwide within 20 years.

    If China assumes that India’s actual and likely intentions in the future towards China are entirely peaceful, there is still the legitimate concern with India’s capacity to safeguard and secure such a large stockpile of nuclear weapons. Concerns can be legitimately raised as to the command and control of Indian nuclear forces, what sorts of safeguards are in place against accidental use of nuclear weapons and so forth.

    On the other hand, if there is any reason to doubt India’s peaceful intentions, then China must factor into the calculation the likely cost of countering a large Indian arsenal of thermo-nuclear weapons that will, at least, in part, be aimed at China.

    While it is beyond this note to address the cost of such counters, here are some potential and possibly real costs of China sitting idly by at the NSG:

    – Developing and fielding an enhanced nuclear deterrent designed to penetrate an adversary equipped with an anti-ballistic missile system will cost China at least tens of billions USD and possibly require the development of a new generation of missiles and warheads that cost billions USD more.

    – It is highly probable that China will require a larger arsenal of warheads, and more expensive and less secure means of maintaining a deterrent like mobile missile launchers that costs tens of billions USD more.

    – China developing these capabilities will, in turn, give Russia and the US concerns as to Chinese intentions, potentially sparking a renewed global arms race.

    – Development of even a rudimentary anti-Ballistic Missile system to protect even one site (parts of Beijing) is likely to cost hundreds of Billions USD.

    These costs are by no means hypothetical, but real costs that are likely to be incurred should India continue their conventional and nuclear weapons buildup and should Chinese Indian relations change for the worse.

    India is dangling the promise of perhaps USD$100 billion in nuclear technology trade as inducements to the NSG members. Not a single rupee of this trade has been offered to China.

    China is likely to receive virtually none of this Indian nuclear business, but at the same time, face the costs of a severely degraded security and strategic environment that will cost China at the minimum, hundreds of billions USD to mitigate (if it can be mitigated at all).

    If nuclear war broke out in South Asia, even if it did not involve China, it would easily cost China tens of billions just in collateral damage from nuclear fallout and lost business. If it involved China, the cost begins with the destruction of Chinese civilization and rises from there.

    As it stands, the US-India NSG exemption is facilitating an Indian nuclear weapons buildup and nuclear weapons testing to develop an arsenal of hundreds of thermo-nuclear warheads and delivery systems.

    If China cannot delay consideration of this deal to the next US administration (that will likely have very different ideas about effectively gutting the NPT regime that China has benefited from) the other option is for China to vote “NO”.

    The question is, can China afford to not exercise the veto on this deal regardless of short term costs to Chinese-Indian relations? A “NO” vote may damage Indo-Chinese relations, but a “YES” vote will irreversibly damage the cause of nuclear disarmament.

    I do hope you give President Bush and Prime Minister Singh a call and discuss these issues that they may not have bothered to tell you about in trying to sell this deal.

    Please do make these calls soon as both of President Bush and Prime Minister Singh are likely to be out of office shortly!


    Lao Tao Ren

  7. Magoo Nair (History)

    As I write now the NSG waiver has already been given. It is now important to read the fine print before proceeding with the discussion on “Testing” by India and its consequences. What’s more we now must co-relate the interpretation of the fine print by the States we wish to trade with. What every one seems to miss is that India’s moratorium on nuclear testing will be lifted if required in the “national security interest”. Or those were the wordings of the then Prime Minister at the time of applying the moratorium. At no stage has India agreed to the Articles of the CTBT.

  8. Akash (History)

    Lao Tao Ren,

    Thanks for the humor. And for openly playing your hand. I noted with interest your persistent attempts to indict India for missile and arms proliferation, constantly on this blog without the least evidence.

    Your humor is even better, when we consider China’s exact nuclear bomb #‘s are unknown, and the countrys thermonuclear capability is well known, achieved at a draconian cost to the chinese people (radiation poisoning for researchers and what not) and nuclear weapons capability is well documented, including multiple tests of various fission and fusion types.
    Plus china has a stated goal to deter the west, has ICBMs targeting the US, and India.

    India is yet to productionize a single ICBM.

    Meanwhile, care to explain why China proliferated nukes to Pakistan (as confirmed by the latest article in Physics today), strategic missiles to such stalwart upholders of international law such as Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Not to mention their consistent support of the DPRK regime?

    I do think that you seem to be clutching at straws and the readers of this blod would note the same.

    China’s “coming out” was orchestrated in part by the USG. Do watch the same as GWB and MMS do the same for India. I am sure India’s Chinese well wishers like you will be very happy! 🙂

  9. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    “We people” are not reluctant to take on this hypocrisy. First, I do not recall any of this blog’s commenters supporting a double standard.

    Second, civil society and NGOs such as Middle Powers Initiative and Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy are quite active in ending the double standard. MPI sponsors an annual Article VI Forum in which middle power nations bring pressure to bear on the NWS to honor their Article VI obligation. LCNP was involved in the 1996 ICJ Opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. It is also seeking a return to the ICJ for a definitive ruling.

    I believe that it is better to correct this double standard through disarmament of the NWS rather than facilitating prolferation (even if only within its own arsenal) of the non-NPT states and NPT NNWS, which the India Deal does.

    To me, the India Deal is like selling opium to a nation for it to make medicinal morphine. But in this case, that nation has previously used it, needs and wants it, and will not agree to refrain from using it, to make heroin. And India has only agreed to let inspectors into a few of its legitimate medical labs.

  10. Yossi, Jerusalem

    I’m not an expert nor an “expert” but I think that RT is answering his own question. India seems to be high on a nationalistic ego trip, that’s why people are scared of its rapidly developing nuclear force. Too short a time passed since India was poor and backward for it to develop the maturity and restraint required from a country that can destroy a continent.

    The Indian exemption is possibly designed to pave the way for an Israeli one, maybe as a reward for attacking Iran. The nuclear option did Israel more damage than good but instead of learning this lesson American fundamentalists want to replay it on a larger scale. Why the US always goes for “clever tricks” that succeed in the short term but are disastrous in the long run?

  11. MK (History)

    The most important consequence of the Indian waiver is that NSG will shift from decision-making by consensus to information sharing and diplomatic disagreement. Magoo is right: India will in all probability test again, as it deems necessary for its national security requirements. The waiver is likely to extend this time line. When India tests again (refer back to Kakodkar’s statement on this), information sharing at the NSG will yield further disagreements, as Russia and France insist on continued profit taking. As a result of the Bush administration’s misquided efforts to force the waiver, the IAEA and the NSG will have become complicit in the resumption of nuclear testing — completely at cross purposes with the reasons for their establishment.

  12. Akash (History)


    Please do explain when and where India went on a “nationalistic ego trip”? If, India develops and operationalizes a deterrent after decades of dithering, and when it has no options left (pray what prevented India from doing so much earlier, and weaponising if ego was all that mattered!) & that is nationalist?

    Lets get some facts clear. One sixth of humanity is in India. They need to eat, have jobs, go to work, use electricity etc. They also need to be protected against nuclear attack. Both are necessities. The third is to maintain an independent foreign policy – ergo, we dont sign up to any other country’s deterrent and end up paying a pyrrhic price such as fighting in Iraq or Iran or whatever. The Indian stated weapons objective is a mimimum nuclear deterrent, not some armageddon level arsenal. The nuclear deal is for the future energy scenario, or would you prefer we burnt coal instead? Then you’d be complaining about the atmosphere and how the indians have caused global warming. Sorry, in the real world, you have to make real choices. Keep India out, and the world (including India) pay the consequences environmentally, because the Govt must do what it has to do, or bring them in & have them do what it takes to choose a mutually sustainable scenario. India gets fuel, its people get power, the world gets a new resurgence in nuclear energy.

    And your statement about India being poor and backward and not having the time to develop maturity is quite frankly, patronising and offensive. India has had the “power to destroy a continent” technologically, from the 70’s – it chose not to weaponize till its hands were forced by chinese proliferation to pakistan and increasing encirclement. FYI, no Govt, least of all any Indian Govt has exactly loved the idea of having a deterrent once they saw the costs involved. In the guns vs butter scenario, butter always wins in a developing country, especially one where a substantial part of the electorate expects subsidies and constant Govt support in terms of financial allocations. Currently, despite all the hype, India is still spending less than 2% of its GDP on defence, whereas the desired minimum investment has been projected at 3% since the 1980’s- and no. Indias threat perception has not decreased. The PRC for one has rapidly ramped up its military capabilities.

    Lastly, your claims about American fundamentalists and Israel are not germaine.

    Please fight your battles viz your Govt and its strategic calculus in Israel, that is your choice to make. But please dont attempt to make value judgements for a nation which has far different requirements and secondly, doesnt have the liberty of waiting forever to make up its mind about future energy needs. In other words, its an apples to oranges comparison in entirety.

  13. G S Murthy (History)

    I went through the comments on this page and it seems there is a lot of vile propaganda against India’s decent intentions to be considered a peaceful nuclear state just like China. Lao Tao Ren above is misleading everyone by his assertions China does not have more than 200 warheads, does “not” pursue hostility towards its neighbours including India and has a more impressive non-proliferation record. I would like to ask him if that were the case, why does Chinese external policy ALWAYS oppose India’s peaceful rise through its backstabbing acts. For example, they helped Pakistan develop nuclear weapons which led to India’s increasing need for military build-up. China also illegally occupies 30,000 square kilometres of Indian territory in Aksai China and has tried to instigate Maoist insurgencies in some poor regions of India. China aids/abets separatist elements in the North-East and openly covets Arunachal Pradesh for its vast mineral resources.

    India has NEVER pursued a policy of aggression against China. But, the sad fact remains China does not reciprocate this gesture. Thus, you come to the conclusion India does not TRUST China and its leadership. In order to coexist as peaceful neighbours, India needs to possess minimum credible deterrence against any future nuke attacks originating from China.

    Unlike China, India does not have ICBM’s and will not develop them for the foreseeable future because Western countries and Russia are in very good terms with India today. None of their military/strategic plans are in conflict with India’s military/strategic plans. Unfortunately, China will always be viewed with suspicion because of its neighbouring status. This does not mean India should pursue any isolationist policy against China. Indeed, we should not ignore China’s peaceful aspirations to become a global power and rather complement them in every way possible. China is an important country for India today what with it poised to become our largest trading parter within this year (exceeding even the United States). I fully support closer people-to-people ties with China and expect more Indians in the future to become aware of our neighbour – learn about their culture, language etc. Only when both countries have sufficient knowledge about each other way of thinking can we see this climate of suspicion to be done with. Till then, China is a potential enemey.

  14. Balachandran (History)

    isn’t all this talk about what NSG should or should not do is moot and irrelevant now that they have approved an amendment which would, undoubtedly not satisfy, the anti-Indian/pro-Chines non-pro lobby in Us and their elsewhere?

  15. Fan

    Some comments made on ArmsControlWonk, Siddharth Varadarajan’s “Reality, One Bite a Time”, have turned (unfortunately) the discussion of US-Indian Nuclear Deal, and the NSG Waiver for India into a debate of who is the bad guys between China or India.
    Misperception originates from ignorance. I remember about 6 years ago I happened to spend half a month with our Indian young scholars together with young scholars from other countries too. I often heard talks from our Indian colleagues of China’s hostile attitude, intention, and policies toward China, which was beyond my knowledge and imagination. Most of them even said quite frequently that China took India as its No.1 enemy. It sounds like tales from 1001 Nights.

  16. JF

    “India’s legal right to conduct N-tests preserved”

    India’s “legal” right to conduct nuclear tests had been fully preserved and the country had not made any commitment in this regard to gain the waiver from the NSG to participate in nuclear commerce, Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, said on Saturday.

    “We have made no legal commitment (on nuclear tests),” Kakodkar said, underlining that India had already made a unilateral, voluntary moratorium on conducting atomic tests.

    “Today is an important day as we have achieved a major breakthrough,” he said and termed the waiver to India as “unique” as it would open the doors for the country to take part in international civil nuclear commerce after 34 years of isolation.

    Asked about the amendments India had to accept to win over sceptical NSG members, he said, “There is nothing significant. You can see it for yourself when the waiver document is made public by the NSG shortly. It is a straightforward document.”

    “There is no specific targeting of India on anything,” the country’s top nuclear scientist said.

    Kakodkar said India’s three-stage nuclear programme would continue.

  17. Arch Roberts Jr (History)

    I agree with many of the above that India should not be held to a different standard than other NWS, even though it is technically a non-weapons state under the archaic provisions of the NPT. Despite this contradiction in terms that has bedeviled the NPT/NSG/Zangger/US nonproliferation act regime, there is no credible or meaningful connection between what India decides in terms of its stratgic nuclear weapons policy and its behavior as a member of the NSG. Many in the nonproliferation community are still ticked off that India effectively paid no penalty for its tests in 1974 and 1998, but the facts are the facts, this is our (sorry) history, and we need to move on.

    India would only bear the same legal responsibilities as the other NWS if it acceded to an amended NPT that would formally recognize it as a member of the club. Since this is nearly impossible by most accounts, maybe if we improve the NPT at all it should be to add explicit NSG obligations to the Treaty, with repercussions for violations?

    Just sayin’…

  18. DS

    @ Bruce A. Roth

    I think you are wrong with the understanding when you mentioned Indians use the imported opium to make heroin.

    Here India is placing the imported material and reactor to safegaurds so where is the question of making herion from imported opium.

    Eliminating N weapon is very important. At the same time any rollback and elimination should not be targeted on single entity but it has to be broad based and unanimous.

    There is revelation in Physics today about Chinese proliferation to Pakistan and other third world countries. With these double standards, how you expect Indian to rollback without solving the Chinese proliferation. It is well known that Indian 1998 test is a response to inaction of major powers on balant Chinese proliferation.Then PM Vajpayee letters to President Clintion stands as testimony to this. Why is that ACA and other NGOs without solving these proliferation problem is interested in breaking the India’s neck by denying the Civil nuclear deal(emphasis on civil). Is it not their activities can be called as double standards ?

  19. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    You say, “It is clear that the NWS have no intention of [delivering on its pledges].” I agree, and that’s why I believe we need a new treaty regime as well as UN reform such that the P5 do not control the world order.

    You also say, “Bruce, Anyone that says “NSG should explicitly forbid India’s right to test” without noting that NSG currently allows China to do so is actually supporting a double standard.”—These are not my words or sentiments. I do not want any nation to test. However, China, at least, has signed the CTBT and stopped testing in 1996—neither of which can be said about India or its willingness to do so.

  20. Akash (History)

    In response to Yossi’s remark about maturity, I would also ask ACW members to consider the following facts.

    I would also add this, India is currently facing a terror attack, every 2-3 months. Invariably, a police investigation follows, and the forensic evidence points to a Pakistani involvement, with the Pak Govts aim of stalling India’s economic growth and getting some negotiating power vis a vis India via violent extremism. But has India threatened to nuke Pakistan in response? Has it insisted that now since it has nukes, Pakistan MUST and SHOULD do what India demands? It only mobilized its armed forces once, when in 2001, its parliament was attacked, and didnt follow through when the Pakistani leadership communicated via third channels that they would back off their proxy war, and the US pledged to maintain a closer watch on what the Pakistanis were doing.
    Kindly compare and contrast to the P-5s actions over the past few decades. Expeditionary warfare, constant realpolitik & what not. And India, is held to some weird standard where it is “poor, backward and immature”. Of course, some images of a few folks celebrating after the nuke tests are enough to certify that the entire population is poor & not mature enough to “handle this power” or the like. I cannot begin to state how unnecessarily patronizing and ludicrous such views are. For crying out loud, gentlemen, please realise- you cant maintain a small exclusive club and lock out a bunch of folks whom you arbitrarily decide are not good enough when it is they, who have voluntarily chosen not to proliferate weapons and nuclear technology to third countries.
    Do spare a thought gentlemen, if India had been as brazen as the PRC was, and in its attempt to repay the NSG/NPT/MTCR et al in their own coin, it went ahead with providing every other country missile technology and nuclear bombs, in terms of designs and what not. A single Qadeer Khan from Pakistan, which depends on the PRC for nuclear tech, has given the west sleepless nights – India could have done far worse. But it chose not to.
    As far back as the 1970’s, cash & inducements were offered to India to colloborate with others. It decided not to & didnt even export weapons till but recently, when draconian restrictions on weapons manufacturing were removed w/in India.

    The point is gentlemen, this deal has come at a good time. Do appreciate the fact that you finally undid, to some degree, a really bad decision undertaken to keep India out, while its strategic rival, the PRC was allowed within the tent, and proliferated outside, openly.

  21. Major Lemon (History)

    Kakodkar was talking after attending a drinking party. He was half-p*****. Don’t pay any attention to this off the cuff remark. He never meant it. India will test regardless of the consequences.

  22. Daryl Kimball (History)

    RT and others:

    Your obsession with China aside, you raise an understandable question about equal “consequences” if a nation tests.

    A couple of points: China and all of the 45 other NSG countries have taken on a legally-binding obligation not to test by either ratifying and/or signing the CTBT. India’s test moratorium is a political pledge not a legal one and as the hot BJP testing rhetoric suggests, it may be broken sometime in the not to distant future.

    Furthermore, just as the U.S.-India 123 gives the U.S. the right to terminate trade if India tests, so does the U.S.-China 123. The proposal for an automatic testing cut off if India tests again was an attempt to ensure a more equivalent set of standards on testing.


  23. manoj joshi (History)

    I dont know whether you have seen this article on China’s nuclear developments in Physics Today by Thomas Reed. He notes that China not only supplied Pakistan the design of a nuclear weapon, but actually tested one for them. This is an astounding record. China has emerged as the only country to break the taboo about transferring nuclear weapons technology to another power. Pakistan followed suit, but we are not clear whether the effort was officially sanctioned, though I can bet anything that it was. Pl see:

  24. JF

    Most of them even said quite frequently that China took India as its No.1 enemy. It sounds like tales from 1001 Nights

    Indeed but what else can explain why China provided Pakistan with nuclear warhead designs and ballistic missiles? This is an act of extreme malice against India. What motivated China to perform this incredibly reckless act?

  25. Pradeep

    Before it collects too many cob-webs, folks might also want to revist the David Jeremiah report with a venn diagram on nuke tech proliferation.

    Also, while talking about CTBT etc, folks might to consider the possible option of nations using proxies to further their aims. Another instance of out of the box thinking. Unfortunately perpetrators usually have a leg up in this out of the box thinking game.