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India is Operating World’s Fastest Expanding Nuclear Weapons Programme

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The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has recently launched its annual year book 2020 and assessed the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security. While maintaining its years-long tradition of adding 10 more nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s stockpile, SIPRI estimated that India possesses the smallest numbers of nuclear warheads in the South Asian strategic context. The year book is appeared to be misleading and politically motivated because it did not incorporate other independent sources with higher estimates of Indian nuclear stockpile. SIPRI did not even bother to take notes from a recent report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The report has deliberated the annual nuclear spending of the nine nuclear-armed states. The most interesting case discussed was that Pakistan’s expenditure on its nuclear forces is about $1 billion, as compared to India which spends twice the amount, i.e. $2.3 billion to maintain almost the same number of nuclear weapons.

Today, India is operating world’s fastest expanding nuclear weapons programme outside safeguards among any other non-NPT nuclear states. India is pursuing a nuclear triad which encompasses nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), dual-use cruise/ballistic missiles and an enormous naval modernization intended to nuclearize the Indian ocean region. Various Indian experts and politicians claim India needs more than 300-400 nuclear weapons for its strategic forces.Dr. Anil Kakodkar, the former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Commission, has said in this regards that, “both, from the point of view of maintaining long-term energy security and for maintaining the ‘minimum credible deterrent,’ the fast breeder programme just cannot be put on the civilian list. This would amount to getting shackled and India certainly cannot compromise one [security] for the other.”So, India has intentionally reserved its fast breeder reactors and most of its so-called civil nuclear programme out of the safeguards and surveillance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).In order to acquire the full nuclear triad capability, India will strive to produce many more nuclear warheads without IAEA monitoring.

IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review by Robert Kelley has examined that how several avenues enabled India to achieve the quantity and purity of uranium that are needed in a closed nuclear fuel cycle and New Delhi appears to be interested in atomic vapour laser isotope separation (AVLIS). It further added that reactor-grade plutonium from the unsafe-guarded Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) provides a further strategic military stockpile to India. The IHS Jane also mentioned that India imports Jordanian phosphate in large quantities for fertiliser production. A large stream of phosphoric acid will be processed at the Rare Material Recovery (RMR) Plant at the Pradeep Phosphates Ltd plant near Odisha in the east of the country. Extraction of uranium from imported phosphate fertilisers gives India a source of uranium that is not subject to international monitoring and uranium from phosphate can be used for military activities.

An in depth analysis has shown that India has enough resources and fissile materials to develop between 356 and 492 nuclear warheads. The study titled ‘Indian Unsafeguarded Nuclear Program’ which was published by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) revealed a recent and detailed evaluation of the capability of India’s nuclear weapons programme. Whereas, a Belfer Center’s study has indicated that India is already installing more than five fast breeder reactors, which will proliferate its production capacities of weapons-grade plutonium 20-fold to 700 kg annually. The analysis of this production capacity demonstrates that New Delhi has the capacity to produce roughly 80 to 90 plutonium-based and 7 to 8 uranium-based nuclear weapons every year. According to the study, if all of the weapons and the reactor-grade Plutonium and the Highly Enriched Uranium stocks are taken into account, India could produce between 2,261 and 2,686 weapons.

Matthew Clements, editor of IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review, in an interview, uncovered the expansion of an Indian clandestine uranium enrichment plant that could potentially support the development of thermonuclear weapons. The facility, located near Mysore in southern India, would yield nearly twice as much weapons-grade uranium as New Delhi would need in its fastest-growing nuclear weapons programme. Whereas, unabated growth in its centrifuge enrichment programme will allow it to intensify the production of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to 160kg annually. Matthew Clements said that “taking into account all the enriched uranium likely to be needed by the Indian nuclear submarine fleet, there is likely to be a significant excess.”

To complete nuclear triad, India is rapidly expanding its nuclear weapons program under many covert projects. Such as, it is operating a plutonium production reactor, Dhruva, and a uranium enrichment facility, which are not subject to IAEA safeguards. India is building South Asia largest military complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories. This facility will give India the ability to make many large-yield nuclear arms & hydrogen bombs. In the back drop of Indo-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement, undisclosed plutonium reserves were not inspected and were left with Indian weapons development facilities. Al Jazeera and Foreign Policy investigation reports also specified that India is secretly building a nuclear enrichment complex in Challakere to escalate arms race. It will covertly triple the number of nuclear warheads in the coming years from what India possess today.

India has introduced an ambiguous nuclear separation plan with the IAEA in which it encompassed only those facilities on the civilian list and offered them for safeguards that are not involved in activities of strategic implication. The civilian Plutonium reserves that are outside the safeguards of the IAEA and designated for strategic purposes are the main cause of concern. In a three-stage plan, India is continuing to expand its unsafeguarded nuclear power program. The installation of several nuclear reactors has also been announced by New Delhi. This capability will generate excessive fissile material, other than the fuel necessary for breeder and naval reactors. Over the next few years, India will be capable to replace China, France and the United Kingdom in terms of its abilities to produce nuclear weapons to become the third behind the U.S. and Russia.

India has intensified development and strategic procurement to stockpile weapons-grade material for future usage in military modernization programmes. The increasing stocks of weapons-grade fissile material by New Delhi would have unbearable effects from the South Asian viewpoint of strategic stability.A number of nuclear suppliers, on the assumption of non-factual estimates of Indian stockpile, concluded nuclear cooperation with New Delhi. Although the material from these countries appears to be being reused in arms for the policy of Indian military expansion with respect to aggressive nuclear weapon modernization.

The mere simple facts that the Indian Nuclear programme started well before Pakistan’s, has a bigger capacity than Pakistan with bulk of it outside IAEA safeguards, has 14 nuclear deals under exceptional trade waiver in 2008 by NSG and is actively pursuing a triad of nuclear and space forces being sponsored by leading Western states, are sufficient to prove that Pakistan’s nuclear programme is no match to India’s dangerous and expansionist nuclear quest. It then becomes hard to understand as to why respectable institutions like the SIPRI try to downplay the emerging dangers of massive vertical proliferation carried out by India in the last two decades?

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Defense

Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture

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In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.

India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.

India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.  

In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy.  Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation.  The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.

Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.  

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Defense

A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces

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The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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