Just how well is India a South Asia’s nuclear-armed state, taking care of their nuclear materials? The history paints a daunting picture of liabilities in the event of a mishap that reoccurred in the past. Since India, like Pakistan, is not a party to the NPT, it is not subject to IAEA-NPT safeguards.
Taking a sharp reversal of history, the incidences of nuclear theft date back to the seizure of nuclear fissile material in the early 1980s. However, after the 1998 nuclear testing by India, as well as the fastly swelling Indian nuclear programme – combined with the more than a dozen insurgency movements in India – the threat of theft and possible use of nuclear weapons by sub-national groups and terrorists has been intensified in South Asia. This threat is further swelled because India has been well-known to make clandestine purchases of fissile material from private sellers abroad normally in the old Soviet territories.
While reports of Indian involvement in the theft of nuclear fissile material dates back to the early 1970s, the magnitude of the threat increased manifold in the 1980s and 1990s. In the late 1980s, the CIA had concluded that India was trying to develop a sophisticated Hydrogen bomb. In 1994, on a tip-off, a shipment of beryllium was caught in Vilnius, worth US $ 24 million. The buyer was thought to be either from India or North Korea – though the shipment was caught before it could reach the buyer. Interestingly, as per an Indian parliamentary report, as many as 147 mishaps or security related occurrences were reported in Indian atomic energy plants between 1995 and 1998.
In July 1998, India’s Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) unearthed a major racket in the theft of uranium in Tamil Nadu, with the seizure of over 8 kg of the nuclear material in granule form and the arrest of three men. The contents of this theft were sent to the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) for preliminary analysis and the Centre declared that there were two kinds of substances found in what they said was 6 kg of uranium – natural uranium (U237and U238) and U 235, which is weapons grade uranium. The substances were found in the possession of Arun, a structural engineer, S. Murthy and their associates.
Another uranium theft case to come to light was reported on 27 August 2001, where police caught 200 grams of semi-processed uranium from West Bengal and arrested 2 men. According to the press report, Indian intelligence officials believed that a uranium smuggling gang was operating in West Bengal.
Again, on May 1, 2000, Mumbai police seized 8.3 kgs of uranium. The uranium was termed as depleted but radioactive uranium by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). In this instance, the source of this uranium theft – as cited by the police – had been a local hospital, the Leelavati hospital, in Bandra. The fissile material had been found in the custody of scrap dealers who were caught and charged under the Atomic Energy Act.
Around 9 kg of radioactive uranium, a banned material, has been seized from two persons in Thane, a top police officer said today. Laboratory tests have confirmed that the seized material is depleted uranium, which is a radioactive poisonous heavy metal. According to preliminary investigations, it was brought from abroad and was intended for sale to some unknown parties in Thane.
The Thane police had arrested Kishore Prajapati with 8.86 kilograms of depleted uranium. The uranium was valued at Rs 3 crore per kg. Prajapati a scrap dealer during investigations told the police that he had found the radioactive material in a scrapped Air India aircraft which he had purchased through his contacts.
Most of the accused caught by police have been scrap dealers who are obviously used as front men, which may well indicate the prevalence of organized crime relating to nuclear materials. The source of origin, in most case, as stated by the police, have been cancer hospitals –although the nature and quality of the uranium found in the use of the hospitals has differed from case to case.
So, the focus has to shift to Indian nuclear facilities and the whole issue of their safety – especially in relation to theft and nuclear terrorism. While the rising incidents of nuclear theft create the possibility for a lucrative underground market for potential terrorists, unsafe nuclear facilities create risks for the surrounding populace – which has to live in constant terror of a nuclear accident. Less understood was the most recent racket busting of 31 tons of nuclear material smuggling from India which nonetheless shows their resolve and seriousness about the issue.
When one puts all the reported theft cases in a nutshell, serious questions arises whether India was liable to be a partner in indo-US civil deal? Was the credentials so strong enough for such a deal that surpasses such important revealed mishaps been overlooked? Is India still liable enough with such a daunting history to be a mainstreamed in the most important Nuclear Suppliers Group?
Comparative analyses of Satellites Indian Navy in IOR: Options for Pakistan
After a glaring failure in November 2008, a series of attacks happened in Mumbai, which Indian civilian and military leadership considered it a security breach from the Indian Ocean side as terrorists entered into the homeland due to poorly guarded coastal area by the Indian Navy at Kerala. It was envisioned by Indian defense minister AK. Antony. Indian Navy’s surveillance in coastal areas. For more than 12 years from now, the Indian Navy planned to create and sustain three-dimensional forces under the realm of network-centric warfare where every component system should work under the integrated command, control, and communication systems C3S. Firstly, India Nuclearized the Indian Ocean Region now, it is going to integrate space capabilities with its modernized and enhanced communications of surface, and subsurface fleets. Additionally, to boost the strike capability of the Indian Navy to fill the security gaps in Indian Naval forces, Indian civil and military leadership especially stepped up themselves to enhance and advance India’s Armed forces to counter extraneous threats.
Furthermore, the Indian Navy is investing a huge bulk of the financial budget in acquiring satellite capabilities to improve and enhance surveillance and targeting capability. India’s ISRO (Indian Space Organization) is currently operating thirteen observational satellites in the LEO (low earth Orbit for communication and observation. But now India is transforming its purposes of satellites from non-military to military. Indian Navy is forwarding toward a “skyward strategy” of using four of its operational satellites for navigation, communication, targeting, surveillance, use of precision-guided missiles, and data collection in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
According to a report of Indian Think Tank ‘Institute of Peace Conflict Studies’ New Delhi, the Indian Navy is going to transform the use of some satellites in the maritime domain. Indian navy would use Meteorological Satellites which are used for predicting weather while now it would be used to create fair weather for the launching of lethal precision-guided missiles and weapons. Secondly, IN would use the Electronic Ferret satellite for gathering data in IOR. Thirdly, Navigation satellites would be used for guiding lethal weapons and to select target location. Fourth, Reconnaissance satellites would be used to link up for the effective use of naval information Technology.
Recent Development of Spy Satellites in Maritime Domain Awareness:
Indian Navy launched the Rukmini GSAT-7 spy satellite to secure real-time communication in its command, control, communications, and intelligence surveillance C4ISR for submarines,k warships, and carriers. It cost approximately 486 crores. GSAT-7 with its Multi-band land-based communication satellite would pose adverse effects for the stability of IOR. It would have 600 to 1000 Nautical miles of footprint in IOR. It is designed, developed, and launched by ISRO.
Moreover, the Indian Navy has acquired another satellite named RISAT-II to maintain a check on the deployment of troops which has cost US$4.1 billion. DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) with cooperation from ISRO would design the satellite.
The aforementioned, satellites would provide digital tactical battlespace.
Options for Pakistan Navy:
Pakistan Navy as being a peacekeeper and coastal navy is playing proactively in maintaining peace and balance in IOR. Pakistan Navy has diversified options to use space capabilities to protect its maritime interest in the Arabian Sea and the IOR. Pakistan Navy has the motto of protecting the maritime interests of Pakistan, to promote trade at sea, participating actively in international effort to maintain peace and good order at sea. Pakistan Navy despite having challenges in the acquisition of the latest technology but is doing very well at sea and achieved success in deterring aggression from its potential adversary. As a contextual reflection, Pakistan space agency SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission) under the umbrella of Strategic Planning Division (SPD) which is operating arms of National Command and Authority (NCA) Launched Badr-I, and Badr-II on July 16, 1990, and in December 2001 respectively via foreign launched platforms. Badr-I and Badr-II have capabilities like C4ISR in wide range communication. Under the flagship project CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) Pakistan has signed a historic agreement to launch and develop the satellite to monitor the CPEC project from Space.
Furthermore, Pakistan Navy can also take advantage of its satellites named PRSS-I (Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite-I) and PRSS-IA both were launched by Long March SLV in July 2018. PRSS-IA is an indigenous space satellite of Pakistan. Pakistan Space program is the game changer program for Pakistan when it comes to maritime interests. Pakistan has switched its GPS (Global Positioning System) from the United States of America to the Chinese BeiDou system. PRSS-I and PRSS-IA show Pakistan’s vision of 2047 8nder which Pakistan will pursue an integrated command and control system. After the recent clash at Gallawan Valley, Pak-Sino Space Cooperation could be very beneficial as India is modernizing naval capabilities to threaten Pakistan and China.
In summary, Pakistan has always enjoyed a great history of collaboration among its armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force). Pakistan can easily counter India’s malicious geopolitical interests in IOR through Pakistan Navy via Space platform. Pakistan Navy is also using an integrated surface and subsurface network-centric system but it is also moving forward to modernize and enhance its strike precision capability. Realistically, the Indian Navy is pursuing lethal weaponry and the nucleation of IOR along with conventional naval buildup is alarming for neighborhood states located under the geographical proximity of IOR. Pakistan Navy as a coastal Navy is doing its best to counter every aggression of the Indian Navy. For the future, Pakistan Navy needs to be very cautious while taking steps to counter the Indian Navy.
US military withdrawal from Afghanistan: Implications for Pakistan
Afghanistan has for a greater part of her history seen conflict of various types and magnitudes. From warring warlords fighting to gain dominance, to foreign intervention bent on achieving their political objectives. The people of Afghanistan divided along the lines of ethnicity, class and sect have witnessed great suffering and loss of precious lives. The United States, the latest entrant in Afghanistan sought to gain its political and strategic objectives primarily through the use of military power. The United States had led successful and devastating campaigns in Iraq in which the technological and military dominance was one of the deciding factors which lead to the end of the Saddam regime. Seeking to implement a similar model and to establish a US friendly regime the United States faced stiff resistance at the hands of the Afghan Taliban. Guerilla fighting techniques combined with the harsh mountainous terrain, made it difficult for a land army to establish its dominance in the afghan regions.
Today after having stayed in Afghanistan for almost two decades the United States under the current administration of President Joe Biden now seeks to end the “forever wars”. This deal signed by major stakeholders concluded into a complete US withdrawal from the region where in the people of Afghanistan would be free to choose a path for their future. While this paints a rosy picture on the Afghan situation, it’s important to study the implications of a complete US withdrawal on the people of Afghanistan and for its neighboring country Pakistan. President Joe Biden has selected September 11 of this year to be the date in which US troops completely withdraw from Afghanistan. The withdrawal would effectively end US presence in Afghanistan under the agreed terms and would thus leave the country to charter its own political course. It is now possible to suggest that the Afghan Taliban would push for its demands establishing an Islamic Emirate, a return to its form of Islamic governance. Despite being in the corner the government being the major political force has continued to negotiate with the Taliban in order to reach a consensus on important issues underlined in the original agreement.
The Afghan Taliban has for long demanded a complete withdrawal of US troops and to establish an Islamic Emirate. Within Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban has continued to rage a bloody campaign consisting of attacks on civilians and government officials. With their strong religious ideology the Taliban continue to draw popular support from the people despite their repeated attacks. The Afghan government already weakened by repeated assaults, combined with a poor governance structure faces a threat of a possible ouster from power after the US withdrawal. A possible Afghan Taliban led government after the US withdrawal could see a revert to the previous government system lead by the Taliban. Foreign countries, including Pakistan have expressed fear of a possible civil war after a US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Within Afghanistan, tribal warlords have continued to fight for influence and dominance in their respective regions. Afghan history is telling in this regard as without threat of invasion from an external enemy, the warring factions have been involved in bitter conflicts resulting in instability throughout the provinces. Today despite being the largest faction, the Taliban is not a uniform organization with many joined through coalitions or through defeats. Largely consisting of ethnic Pashtuns, the rise of the Taliban would be seen as a threat to ethnic minorities who may resort to militancy in resistance to a Taliban led government or coalition.
Pakistan has maintained its stance of being a principal stake holder in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The two neighbors despite sharing strong common bonds of religion, culture and ethnicities have had a turbulent relationship since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Both countries have expressed concerns of terror groups operating through their respective territories with the aim of destabilizing governments and to inflict political, economic and social instability through “state sponsored proxies”. For Pakistan the Afghan peace process is critical in order to achieve peace and stability in its troubled provinces of Baluchistan and regions which were part of former FATA.The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a vital link which has been consistently targeted by militants operating from across the western border. In recent trips made by the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister to Kabul both stressed the need for pursuing peace through dialogue and negotiations and that for Pakistan the “stakes are very high”. With threat of a possible civil war after a US withdrawal, it’s important that Pakistan continues to push for a peaceful resolution through its influence within the Afghan Taliban leadership circle.
The situation in Afghanistan has never been in such a crucial stage. The US withdrawal on September 11 this year which if followed through would end a bloody chapter in the history of Afghanistan. The effect both short and long term of this withdrawal would have implications on the people of Afghanistan and the region as well. For Pakistan, the stakes have never been higher with Pakistan hoping and participating in helping to achieve a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. It is important for Pakistan as a peace on its Western borders would go a long way in aiding Pakistan in its battle against militancy and extremism. With constant fears of the country falling into civil war, its important for Pakistan to play its role in ensuring that such a situation which is detrimental to both countries never takes place. A pro-active foreign policy approach and by providing platforms of negotiations would help in enabling an environment where a peaceful resolution can be achieved without conflict erupting. Peace in Afghanistan is long overdue and it’s up to the stake holders to decide the future course for the country.
Indian Aerial Power ‘’Smudge on Russian technology’’
21st century is home to one of the most sophisticated and unimaginable conflicts. Survival is the ultimate need of societies now. For this purpose, mankind jumped into a weapon race and the genesis of arm became an utmost urgency. When it comes to innovation in the industry of weapons 20th century is credited for its top-of-the-line inventions. Before the start of world war 1, Sea Power was the ultimate key for the states to maintain their hegemony in regions. As aviation made its way into the globe, the key to hegemony began to shift from sea to Air. After the end of World War 2, Aviation reached new peaks of technology. Aircraft were shifted from propellers to jet engines and supersonic models. Radars and new tracking and jamming systems were introduced that took aerial combat to new heights of complications.
Aerial combat in this contemporary world is at the peak. Aviation industries around the world are trying their best to make tough combat machines with top-of-the-line reliability. The need for time is filled by these weapon industries. Arms are now a part of trade and are a source of revenue for most countries in the world. In a bird’s eye view, more than 50 % of arms export comes from only two countries such as Russia and US. The USA held 33 % of global arms export while on the other hand, Russians made their way to 20%. As long as the conflict continues, It is quite clear that these countries are not going to shift their focus from weapon manufacturing.
India is home to 1.36 billion people. The state has the most growing economy in 2021. On the other hand, India is not on good ties with its two neighbors such as China and Pakistan. Existing in a tri-nuclear region procurement of up-to-date weapons is believed as the ultimate need of India. In 2021, India was the second-largest importer of weapons. It shared more than 9% of global weapon imports. Its main supplier is Russia, France, and Israel. Roughly 40 % of total Russian arms exports go to India making it the main supplier of weapons of the Indian military. India mostly imports fighter jets, Tanks, and armed vehicles. While France and Israel are the exporters of Drones and other sophisticated military technology to the Indian force. Russia being the second-largest exporter of weapons makes the backbone of Indian aerial power. Russian aviation supplies to India include SU-30, Migs, Mi-17s, Mi-24, Ilyushin, and other models of Antanov. So it can be deemed from these factors that the Indian Air force, Indian Army aviation, and Indian Naval Air Arms; all are dependent on Russian weaponry. In addition to this, Russian Armexports go to 47 other countries. Their clients are spread all over the world. From Africa, South America to the middle east and central Asia Russian weapons are hailed.
So before proceeding to the main theme of this study a question arises what makes Russian armaments so common in this weapon market. First of all, it’s about the price-to-product ratio. Russian weapons are very price competent as compared to the American and western weapons. Their reliability is attracting clients. This fact is so solid that the second-largest importer of Russian armaments ‘’The Chinese Dragon’’ is the 4th largest exporter of weapons itself. China being the second-largest importer of Russian weapons has a history of weapon trades with Russia. Their ace Fighter Jets are based on Russian models such as the J-11 Multi-Role Fighter jet. In addition to this, countries with trembling economies and long history of wars are fighting one of the most complex battles of their own kind by relying on the Russian weapon system. Air Forces of Syria and Nigeria are dependent on Russian ground support aircraft to fight their war against terrorism. The low budget maintenance of these Russian Aircraft allows these countries to maintain their foot in the battle against these terrorist groups. But on the other hand, there is some unhappy customer or in other words, a client that is even unable to maintain the repute of Russian war inventory. With a long history of Crashes and losses in the battle against its traditional foe ‘’Pakistan’’; Indian Air Force poses a fair threat to the Russian weapon market. Even after having top-of-the-line ace fighter jets of Russian inventory; It can be easily spectated that Indian Aerial Forces failed to prove their mettle and maintain a solid legacy aerial competency.
When it comes to wars between India and its longstanding traditional foe Pakistan; IAF was outgunned by the Pakistani pilots. In the wars of 1965 IAF fighter Jets were seen falling from the sky. The famous kills of British-made Gnat Fighter jets by Pakistani Hero Pilot MM Alam remain a record to this day. Even in the War of 1971, India outnumbered Pakistan from an 8 to 1 ratio but still, PAF left a series of question marks on the efficiency of Indian pilots. In the 1999 Kargil war, India again lost 3 aircraft without causing any damage to the Pakistani Air force. No doubt, this is only the history of active combats involving Russian and Non-Russian Aircrafts IAF used. In this 21st century, there is still much more to be witnessed.
A couple of years ago,the Indian Minister of state for defense affairs Shripad Naik told Lok-Sahaba (Lower House of Indian government) that 44 Indian aircraft have crashed since 2014. In a break-up, these crashes included 26 fighter jets, Six Helicopters, Nine trainers, and three transport aircraft. In all these series of incidents Mostly Russian aircraft were involved. Mig-21 Bison is another Russian imported fighter jet that makes the bulk of IAF. In 2012 Indian defense minister told astonished Parliament that half of the 827 Migs were lost. In addition to this Indian Naval Air Arm is also on the hit of Critique, as the newly acquired Russian Mig-29K, a 4 Generation Plus Carrier-based fighter Jet began to crash one after another causing the deaths of Indian pilots.
The year 2019 clearly showed, that nothing has much changed for the Indian air force despite hundreds of reforms. Inthe almost first half of the year, IAF lost roughly a dozen aircraft out of which most were Russian Made. At the early start of the year, IAF lost 3 aircraft in two different incidents. A couple of weeks later it was miserably outgunned by the Pakistani Air Force during the Indo-Pak Tensions 2019. Adding fuel to the fire, IAF was seen panicked when they downed another IAF helicopter in a friendly fire that was on a rescue mission to trace and recover Indian pilots of ill-fated SU-30 and Mig-21 bison who were bashed by Pakistani fighter jets. Keeping in sight the future incidents of 2019, A big question mark was raised on the Competency of IAF.
So a question arises, what is the reason behind the Indian birds falling out of the sky one after another? Is it really with the Russian Weapon Technology or the ill-defined Indian defense policies and poor war strategies? It should be kept in mind that after each crash there is always a spark of argument and blame game between the Indian Air Force officials and the defense ministry representatives. IAF officials believe that Indian military agreements with the Russian industries are hunted by immense corruption. On the other hand, the Indian political hub claims that pilots are mostly responsible for the crash. This blame game hurts the sentiments of the public as well; as it poses a question mark on the efficiency of guardians of the Indian sky. Russian weapons are not based on universal mechanism like the ones the US have. So each machine requires a different approach and maintenance. Defense experts around the globe believe that a diverse collection of Indian air inventory makes it difficult for the Indian military to manage their matters. Last but not least, in recent years there is a gradual decrease in Indian defense imports from Russia as they are turning towards France and their locally built Jets. As a matter of fact, The newly built so-called pride of the Indian defense industry HAL Tejas was grounded in 2019 over the technical faults. Secondly, the newly inducted Dassault Rafale also turned out to be a matter of controversy as different allegations based on corruption and favoritism were launched against the Indian government. Experts believe that the Indian shift of weapon purchase will not only bring ups and downs in Indo-Russia relations but will also put a question mark on the ace of India’s new vendor. Analysts on the other edge of the spectrum are still unsure that if this new market is going to revive the obsolete Indian defense policies and outdated inventory or the new market is going to meet the same fate as its preceder.
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