Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On being Unclear if we are Nuclear

(Originally written on Sept 23, 2009 - during the height of the controversy, but remained in my drafts)
I am almost nobody to comment on whether India should or should not test a nuclear bomb. All I want is for India to be a nation which conclusively, correctly possesses a nuclear bomb so as have minimum credible deterrence. Now, however, I see that with Dr.Santhanam's claim, half the scientific community and most of the country thinks we dont possess an actual proper nuke. Unfortunately, since this has been made public, now other nations (most notably Pakistan and China) know.
Given the conditions of the Civilian Nuke Deal with the US, I understand there is no way we can even think about testing a nuclear bomb now, let alone actually test it. I would not have been really worried if, as Dr.Santhanam claims, our nuke test was indeed a "fizzle", but none of those outside the Indian scientific community/government knew of it. At least, we would, on paper, still have minimum credible deterrence. Now, it is apparent that we don’t, going by even one informed voice of dissent.

It is also sad to see Dr.Kalam's name being unnecessarily dragged into this and tarnished. Unfortunately, I cannot sympathize with him either, given that Dr.Iyengar's & Dr.Santhanam's statements about his incapacity to not comment on the issue because of his not being a nuclear physicist are spot on, irrespective of their words about the actual nuclear test.

All I can do now is sit back and hope/pray that one of the following happens -
1. The dispute is settled after a thorough & intensive investigation and Dr.Santhanam is convincingly proved false and everyone in BARC assures us that we do, indeed, possess a nuclear weapon.
2. If Dr.Santhanam is proved right, we should go ahead and test again until we are sufficiently satisfied about the capacity of the bomb. In this case, I have no idea what will happen to the Indo-US Nuclear deal and the slew of sanctions which will obviously follow.
3. Even if the test was indeed a fizzle, the government should settle for a behind-the-doors agreement with Dr.Santhanam, asking him to come out and state that he was wrong in his claims and that he has now, after seeing NEW information, been sufficiently satisfied with the capability of the bomb. This should obviously not be so naive that he merely retracts his words. Whatever, the international community (mainly China & Pakistan) should be convinced that we are a nuclear power, basically, to attain minimum credible deterrence.

Obviously, most preferable is 2 and least preferable is 3. The worst thing to happen, of course, would be the persistence of the current stalemate, where the government just issues a few rebuttals here and there, the media publishes them, then conveniently goes on to the next controversial tweet by Shashi Tharoor or another gang-rape of a mother in Mumbai or (the media's favourite bunny) the investigation into Modi's role in the Godhra riots. And I will not be surprised if this last thing happens, it isn't beyond India.

Until such time, however, I will just have to sit back and whine like this. I am, after all, an insignificant face in the crowd, just another ordinary Indian citizen.
blog comments powered by Disqus