By Sajjad Shaukat
Taking cognizance of the war-like situation between India and Pakistan, which started in the aftermath of the false flag Pulwama terror attack in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the US played a key role in de-escalation of tension between the two neighboring nuclear countries. But, tension which involves the risk of nuclear war still exists, as the extremist government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by the Indian fundamentalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused the mediatory role of any country, while continuing war hysteria against Pakistan in wake of acceleration of shelling across the Line of Control (LoC), which has resulted into many casualties in the Pakistani side of Kashmir. On the other side, Pakistan’s armed forces are on high alert to give a matching response to any Indian prospective aggression or war.
Apart from other Western media, The New York Times wrote on March 7, 2019: “Tensions have cooled between India and Pakistan after a terrorist attack, but their nuclear arsenals mean unthinkable consequences are always possible. The current focus on North Korea’s growing arsenal obscures the fact that the most likely trigger for a nuclear exchange could be the conflict between India and Pakistan [in wake of the unresolved dispute of Kashmir]…Adding to the volatility, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi is waging a tough re-election campaign in which he has used anti-Pakistan talk to fuel Hindu nationalism.”
In a public testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on January 30, this year, US Director of National Intelligence Daniel presented a threat assessment report outlining significant global security threats facing the US. Coats said: “We remain concerned about Pakistan’s continued development control of nuclear weapons, but did not express any concern about India’s nuclear programme…India had, in 2018, conducted its first deployment of a nuclear-powered submarine armed with nuclear missiles. Pakistan continues to develop new types of nuclear weapons, including short-range tactical weapons, sea-based cruise missiles, air-launched cruise missiles, and longer range ballistic missiles…the overall threat from weapons of mass destruction is expected to continue growing in 2019…Pakistan and India’s growing nuclear arsenals increase the risk of a nuclear security incident in South Asia”.
The report speculates that strained relations between Pakistan and India will persist “at least through May 2019, the deadline for the Indian election, and probably beyond”.
However, there is co-relationship of India’s appetite for new weaponry, the use of Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs), war hysteria and risk of nuclear war, which needs urgent attention of the international community.
It is notable that in its annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed on March 12, this year, “India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014-18 and accounted for 9.5 per cent of the global total.” On June 18, 2018, SIPRI pointed out: “Estimated 110-130 Indian nuclear bombs are stored in six or so government–run sites across India. Within the next five years to one decade, as many as 60 reactors will also be functional in India with the active cooperation of the US-led Western and far eastern allies”.
According to the ‘Military Balance 2018’ report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), “India’s defence budget broke into the world’s top five…beating the UK for the first time…India overtook the UK as the fifth-largest defence spender in the world in 2017 at $52.5 billion, up from $51.1 billion in 2016.”
New Delhi’s military is acquiring a slew of new equipments from combat aircraft to submarines and artillery. It is currently finalising a deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets in a contract worth an estimated $12 billion.
On November 2, 2010, the US also agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets including US F-16 and F-18 fighters, C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons etc. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries—especially Israel, America is a potential military supplier to India. Last year, New Delhi also inked agreement with Russia for buying anti-missile system S-400 as well.
It is noteworthy that India test-fired its longest range surface-to-surface nuclear ballistic missile Agni-5 on December 26, 2017. Agni-5 is capable of striking a target of more than 5,000 km away. The missile can carry a nuclear warhead of more than one tone. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan, China and Europe.
While, the Agni-6 is reported to be in early stages of development and the most advanced version, with a strike-range of 8,000-10,000 km. New Delhi already has in its arsenal—the Agni 1, 2, 3 and 4 missile systems and supersonic cruise missiles like Brahmos.
According to Times of India, “Once the Agni-V is inducted, India will join the super exclusive club of countries with ICBMs (missiles with a range of over 5,000-5,500km) alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.”
It is worth-mentioning that Indian past record proves various kinds of security and safety lapses regarding various nuclear plants and the related sensitive materials, including events of leakage, nuclear theft, smuggling and killing.
The episode of 8 October 2014 at Kalpakkam, when a soldier of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) responsible for protecting nuclear materials, went on a rampage to destroy the security of the facility leading to nuclear material theft by criminals.
Indian media reported on July 5, last year that the Kolkata police have arrested five men with 1 kg of uranium valued at around Rs. 3 crores ($440,000).
The Times of India elaborated that the men had come to Kolkata in the state of West Bengal to try to sell the substance. Police were quoted as saying that two packets of a “yellow-coloured substance” were seized.
In November, 2009, more than 90 Indian workers suffered radiation due to contamination of drinking water at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka.
On July 27, 1991, a similar event occurred at the heavy water plant run by the Department of Atomic Energy at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan. Nuclear radiation had affected and injured many laborers there.
In July 1998, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seized eight Kg. of nuclear material from three engineers in Chennai, which was stolen from an atomic research center.
On November 7, 2000, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) disclosed that Indian police had seized 57 pounds of uranium and arrested two men for illicit trafficking of radioactive material. IAEA had revealed that Indian civil nuclear facilities were vulnerable to thefts.
On January 26, 2003, CNN pointed out that Indian company, NEC Engineers Private Ltd. shipped 10 consignments to Iraq, containing highly sensitive equipments entailing titanium vessels and centrifugal pumps.
In December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material had been stolen from an Indian fortified research atomic facility near Mumbai.
In June 2009, India’s nuclear scientist, Lokanathan Mahalingam missed from the scenario and after a couple of days; his dead body was recovered from the Kali River. Indian police concocted a story that Mahalingam had committed suicide by jumping into the river. It is a big joke to hide some real facts behind his death because wisdom proves that if an educated person decides to commit suicide, he will definitely adopt a soft way to eliminate his life. Afterwards, Dr. Haleema Saadia said that death of the scientist was a conspiracy.
Nevertheless, such events in connection with nuclear materials continued unabated in India, putting the security of atomic weapons and their related components, including the lives of workers at high risk.
It is mentionable that when the US former President Barack Obama hosted the fourth Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on March 31, 2016 to check the spread of nuclear weapons, showing concerns about the ambitions of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL) in acquiring a nuclear weapon or radioactive material, the US President Donald Trump had taken a different stand in his interview with the CNN by stating, “More nuclear weapons could make the world safer…US can no longer afford to bankroll the defense of its allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East…Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia may need arsenals to confront threats in their region on their own.”
Similarly, by pursuing the double standards of America and some Western countries in its worst form, President Trump also favoured India, while opposing the nuclear weapons of Pakistan. Because, being the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, Pakistan annoys America, Israel and some Western countries. As a matter of fact, it is Zionist agenda to ‘denculearise’ Pakistan. However, like Obama, Trump has brushed aside the ground realities that Indian Prime Minister Modi led by the ruling fundamentalist party BJP has been implementing anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan agenda.
As part of their double game, these US-led countries have ignored Indian poor record of nuclear security, non-proliferation, lack of safety of workers, working at Indian nuclear facilities and lack of any appropriate regulatory authority.
Contrarily, during his first visit to New Delhi, on November 6, 2010, President Obama announced the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand for membership of four key global nuclear nonproliferation regimes.
Washington signed a pact of nuclear civil technology with New Delhi in 2008. During American
President Obama’s second visit to India, on January 25, 2016, the US and India announced a breakthrough on the pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology.
It is notable that US also pressurized International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to grant a waiver to New Delhi for obtaining civil nuclear trade on larger scale.
Evidence indicates that India has not fulfilled the conditions of the NSG waiver. At least, eight of India’s nuclear reactors are outside safeguards which are a big question mark on the credibility of its nuclear safety and security standards. Two reports from the King’s College–respectively titled ‘India’s Nuclear Exceptionalism’ and ‘India’s Strategic Nuclear and Missile Program’ also claim that India has already accumulated nuclear material for over 2600 nuclear weapons, including all of its unsafeguarded reactor-grade plutonium, which is weapon-usable, and raised concerns over this stockpiling.
In fact, in the pretext of countering China, Washington has continued favouring India’s programme of advancement and modernization of nuclear weapons. US supports Indian nuclear programme in the pretext of anti-China and anti-Pakistan approach. Beijing is apprehensive about the emerging threat, as during the last visit of Obama to New Delhi, the intent of President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi was quite clear, while mentioning about free sea lanes and air passages in the South China Sea. President Trump is also pursuing the policy of his predecessor in this respect, as in the recent past, during his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, he showed similar approach.
Nonetheless, arms deals with America, which also include nuclear submarines to New Delhi, would increase Indian hegemonic designs in the region.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday (March 13, 2019) at the conclusion of the 9th round of India-US Strategic Security Dialogue in Washington, co-chaired by the Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and the US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson, “They committed to strengthen bilateral security and civil nuclear cooperation, including the establishment of six U.S. nuclear power plants in India” in accordance with the agreement signed between the two countries.
America also reaffirmed its strong support to India’s early membership in the 48-member NSG. Notably, China has blocked India’s pending membership to the elite grouping which seeks to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Latest reports suggest that India is also desperate in her endeavour to get a berth in NSG. In the wake of suspension of 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between USA and Russia, New Delhi may resort to further her nuclear ambitions.
Besides obtaining atomic weapons from the US and other Western countries, New Delhi is, clandestinely, importing nuclear arms, components and submarines from Israel. In this connection, Zionist-led Indo-Israeli secret diplomacy could be assessed from the interview of Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, published in the Indian weekly Outlook on February 18, 2008. Regarding India’s defense arrangements with Tel Aviv, Sofer had surprisingly revealed: “We do have a defense relationship with India, and “with all due respect, the secret part will remain a secret.”
Although Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs) which also include atomic weapons seem to be mysterious, yet still could be within the reach of some Hindu terrorists with the help of Indian RAW which might have also got these destructive arms from the Israeli Mossad. Such atomic weapons or radiological materials could have also been smuggled inside India by the Hindu fanatics with the covert assistance of RAW.
Frustrated in isolating Pakistan, RAW in connivance with Mossad might have prepared a most dangerous plan to use WMDs or nuclear weapons or dirty nuclear bombs inside the US homeland or any major European country to implicate Pakistan for having allegedly used these weapons through some Taliban militants.
Particularly, RAW and Mossad may also employ these fatal weapons against NATO forces in Afghanistan, as New Delhi and Tel Aviv want to prolong the stay of the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan which have become the center of their secret activities against Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran. Terrorists of the Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and ISIS, which are strategic assets of the CIA, Mossad and RAW may be used for employment of these unconventional weapons. While, India, Israel and America are also playing double game against one another, hence, by utilizing the vicious circle of terrorism, New Delhi can alone use these weapons through TTP and ISIS which have claimed responsibility for many terror assaults inside Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the recent ones. So, RAW’s sole aim will be to provoke Americans and its allies against Islamabad which is challenging Indian dominance in South Asia. Thus, RAW could create a dangerous misunderstanding in which US could use small nuclear weapons against Pakistan or could ask the latter to rollback its atomic programme.
It is of particular attention that in 2017, some confirmed reports disclosed that in the Indian Held Kashmir, Indian security forces employed chemical weapons against the Kashmiri civilians in violation of international law and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In a development on July 4, 2017, the Indian Army had destroyed houses in Pulwama and killed 3 Kashmiri civilians. Upon recovery of the bodies, it was discovered that they were burnt beyond recognition.
Sources suggest that Indian Army is emulating Israeli tactics by using white phosphorus bombs to destroy houses of Kashmiris suspected of harboring Mujahideen. The same tactics were used by Israel during its attacks on Gaza and it seems that these weapons have been provided by Israel to India, which have been used in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
In such an environment, considering India to be qualified for acquiring of nuclear technology through global powers’ led NSG and IAEA and obstructing Islamabad’s safe nuclear energy programme is discriminatory as well as an effort to hinder peace and economic progress of Pakistan. And unsafe materials in nuclear facilities patrolled by low morale CISF troops across India are also liable to be stolen by insiders having grievances against employers and typical Hindu mindset of Indian leadership. Unfortunately, Washington and its other allies, instead of pressing India for quick nuclear reforms are encouraging India to expand its nuclear stockpiles. The US-led West needs to take cognizance of such ventures rather than criticizing Pak-China civil nuclear cooperation.
While, international community has been making strenuous efforts for world peace in wake of global financial crisis and war against terrorism, especially against ISIL, but, emboldened by America, New Delhi has particularly initiated deadly nuclear arms race in South Asia where people are already facing multiple problems of grave nature. Majority of South Asian people are living below the poverty level, lacking basic facilities like fresh food and clean water. Yielding to acute poverty, every day, some persons commit suicide.
Even, Indian civil society organizations, while complaining of excessive defense spending, recently, pointed out that the government spends very little amount for the betterment of people. Indian defense analyst Ravinder Pal Singh, while indicating New Delhi’s unending defense expenditures at the cost of poverty-alleviation, calls it guns-versus-butter question.
And by ignoring regional problems and settlement of Indo-Pak issues, especially the Kashmir dispute which remains a nuclear flashpoint, Indian rulers state that they do not have any belligerent policy. But, it becomes a big joke of the 21st century, reminding a maxim, “armed to the teeth, but no enemy”, if we take cognizance of India’s increasing defense purchases and her aggressive designs.
We can conclude that although peace and brinksmanship cannot co-exist in the modern era, yet India’s appetite for new weaponry and war hysteria against Pakistan have increased the risk of nuclear war by endangering the regional security as well as that of the entire world, as the terrorist outfit like the ISIS can also use WMDs in any volatile country or Western country, particularly the US.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations