US Role as Nuclear Proliferator to India

The story of how India acquired nuclear weapons gets almost no attention in the Western media as they continue to focus on nuclear proliferation by Pakistan's AQ Khan.

The nuclear proliferation narrative in the mainstream American and European media begins with A.Q. Khan's network rather than the actors in North America and Europe as the original proliferators of nuclear weapons equipment, materials and technology to India in 1960s and 1970s. These nuclear exports from US to India continued for several years even after the Indian nuclear test in 1974.

The real story, as recounted by Paul Leventhal of The Nuclear Control Institute, begins with the US and Canada supplying nuclear reactors and fuel to India in 1960s. As the story unfolds, we learn that the spent fuel from Canadian Cirus reactor was reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium using a reprocessing plant provided by an American-European consortium, and later used to explode India's first atom bomb at Pokhran in 1974. This is the key event in South Asia that led to Pakistan's pursuit of nuclear weapons culminating in nuclear tests by both India and Pakistan in 1998.

Here are some key excerpts from Paul Leventhal's presentation to Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington DC on December 19, 2005:

CIRUS (Canadian reactor supplied to India) holds a very special place in nonproliferation history and the development of US nonproliferation policy. This needs to be understood if we are to do the right thing in working out a new nuclear relationship with India.

My own personal involvement in this history and policy began with a telephone call I received 31 years ago on a May morning in 1974 when I was a young staffer on the U.S. Senate Government Operations Committee. It was from a Congressional liaison officer of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission who said he was calling to inform me that India had just conducted a nuclear test and to assure me that "the United States had absolutely nothing to do with it."

At that time, I was working on legislation to reorganize the AEC into separate regulatory and promotional agencies. I had begun investigating the weapons potential of nuclear materials being used in the U.S. Atoms for Peace program, both at home and abroad. The official wanted me to know there was no need to consider remedial legislation on nuclear exports because the plutonium used in India's test came not from the safeguarded nuclear power plant at Tarapur, supplied by the United States, but from the unsafeguarded Cirus research reactor near Bombay, supplied by Canada. "This is a Canadian problem, not ours," he said.

It took me two years to discover that the information provided me that day was false. The United States, in fact, had supplied the essential heavy-water component that made the Cirus reactor operable, but decided to cover up the American supplier role and let Canada "take the fall" for the Indian test. Canada promptly cut off nuclear exports to India, but the United States did not.

In 1976, when the Senate committee uncovered the U.S. heavy-water export to India and confronted the State Department on it, the government's response was another falsehood: the heavy water supplied by the U.S., it said, had leaked from the reactor at a rate of 10% a year, and had totally depleted over 10 years by the time India produced the plutonium for its test.

But the committee learned from Canada that the actual heavy-water loss rate at Cirus was less than 1% a year, and we learned from junior-high-school arithmetic that even a 10%- a-year loss rate doesn't equal 100% after 10 years. Actually, more than 90% of the original U.S. heavy water was still in the Cirus reactor after 10 years, even if it took India a decade to produce the test plutonium---itself a highly fanciful notion.

We also learned that the reprocessing plant where India had extracted the plutonium from Cirus spent fuel, described as "indigenous" in official U.S. and Indian documents, in fact had been supplied by an elaborate and secret consortium of U.S. and European companies.

Faced with this blatant example of the Executive Branch taking Congress for the fool, the Senate committee drafted and Congress eventually enacted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Paul Leventhal's story about India's diversion of civilian nuclear programs to build weapons is corroborated by other sources such as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the Wisconsin Project.

Unfortunately, not much has changed in Washington since 1974 as the duplicitous US policy of "non-proliferation" continues to this day. Washington never talks about the Israeli nuclear weapons and the US administration continues to raise objections to the Chinese sale of nuclear power plants to Pakistan which is suffering from crippling energy deficits. Meanwhile, the 2009 US-India nuclear deal legitimizes India as a nuclear weapons state and encourages continuing Indian buildup of its nuclear arsenal even as the US targets Iran for its alleged efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's "Indigenous" Copies of Foreign Nukes and Missiles

India's Nuclear Bomb by George Perkovich

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Cyberwars Across India, Pakistan and China

Pakistan's Defense Industry Going High-Tech

Pakistan's Space Capabilities

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Scientist Reveals Indian Nuke Test Fizzled

The Wisconsin Project

The Non-Proliferation Review Fall 1997

India, Pakistan Comparison 2010

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Global Firepower Comparison

Only the Paranoid Survive

India Races Ahead in Space

21st Century High-Tech Warfare


Riaz Haq said…
Here's George Perkovich, author of "India's Nuclear Bomb", on the India-US nuclear deal:

Do you think it’s a good agreement?

No. I think it’s flawed for a number of reasons. I have colleagues and friends in the non-proliferation community who think any such agreement with India would be a disaster. I think India’s economic development and overall development is so important from a world historical point of view that we should do a lot to facilitate it. My problem is this particular agreement is first of all, the administration failed to establish criteria under which countries which haven’t signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty could come in to a broader non-proliferation set of rules and not be outside of this system. The three countries that haven’t signed the NPT are India, Israel, and Pakistan. What we should have done in my view is say “Here are criteria for each of those that if each of those countries met, they could get some form of increased nuclear cooperation with us.” Instead of offering criteria like that, the administration is just going to change the rules for India. There aren’t even really criteria here. The United States is just saying “They’re our buddies, they’re our friends. Let’s change the rules.” And it leaves Pakistan and Israel still out in no-man’s land. Why is that important? If you add criteria, such as a country is a democracy, it doesn’t support terrorist organizations, it has tight nuclear export controls, India would meet them and Pakistan wouldn’t meet them today, but it would give Pakistan an incentive to change behavior because it could then qualify and the same with Israel.

But by treating India as an exception, it just reflects the Bush administration’s general disdain for a rule-based international system. It’s typical of this overall policy of “We’re going to do what we want and the heck with what others think and we’ll basically use our power to change rules when we think they need to be changed.” There are other problems with it too. The main one is that the administration didn’t really seek and didn’t get any agreement by India to limit its production of nuclear weapons, so at this point in world history I think we’re at a point where we ought to be able to say “No country is building additional nuclear weapons, no country needs additional nuclear weapons.” We should be able to say that we understand that India and Pakistan have theirs but at least let’s stop producing more of those things. We didn’t get it and we didn’t seek it because some in the administration actually want India to build more nuclear weapons as a counter to China. I think that’s a mistake.
Riaz Haq said…
Australian PM lifting ban on uranium exports to India, according to Washington Post:

CANBERRA, Australia — Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday called on her ruling party to overturn its ban on Australia exporting uranium to India for peaceful purposes, describing the prohibition as “all pain with no gain” for the national economy.

The center-left Labor Party government came to power in 2007 and immediately ended Australia’s negotiations with India on starting nuclear trade because India has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Gillard said she wants Labor to change its policy at its annual national conference next month because the United States lifted a “de facto international ban” on nuclear cooperation with India in 2005 by signing a bilateral deal with New Delhi to trade uranium and work together on civil atomic power generation.

“Given that change in diplomatic circumstances around the world, for us to refuse to budge is all pain and no gain, and I believe our national platform should recognize that reality,” Gillard told reporters.

But a policy change would not lead to uranium sales to India’s nuclear rival Pakistan or Middle Eastern nuclear power Israel.

“When you look at other nations ... whether it be Pakistan or Israel, they are not in the same class,” she said.

India welcomed Gillard’s decision.

“We attach importance to our relations with Australia, which are growing across the board. Energy is one of the key areas of bilateral cooperation,” Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said.

“We understand that Prime Minister Gillard proposes to seek a change in the Australian Labor Party’s policy on sale of uranium to India, in recognition of our growing energy needs, our impeccable nonproliferation record and the strategic partnership between our two countries. We welcome this initiative,” he said.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report of conviction of a Chinese woman on charges of exporting paint to Pakistan without a license:

Xun Wang, a former managing director of PPG Paints Trading Co. of Shanghai, admitted her guilt Tuesday before a federal judge in Washington. She also reached a $200,000 settlement with the Commerce Department and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

PPG Paints Trading also pleaded guilty in December. The company and its parent, Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc., paid nearly $4 million in fines and restitution.

Wang, a Chinese citizen and lawful U.S. permanent resident, was accused of conspiring to send high-performance epoxy coatings to the Chashma II nuclear reactor run by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. She admitted helping send three shipments of the coatings from the United States to Pakistan through a third-party distributor in China without the required license from the Commerce Department.

Some U.S. experts say there is evidence Pakistan is building a plant near Chashma II to turn spent fuel from the reactor into weapons grade plutonium for the country's expanding nuclear arsenal.

The criminal charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Her plea before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan allows her to escape more serious charges she was facing that could have carried up to 65 years in prison.

Wang, a 51-year-old from Hillsborough, Calif., was arrested at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport this summer as she and her family were headed to Italy to celebrate her oldest daughter's graduation from prep school before starting Princeton.

Her lawyers initially argued that charges against her were "technical," that she was at worst peripherally involved in the scheme and that the case involved paint, not any threat to American security or nuclear proliferation.

Wang, who has a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her husband ran their own paint import-export business. The couple, who have two daughters, sold it to PPG Industries in 2006 for more than $17 million, and the U.S. company hired her to run its wholly-owned Chinese subsidiary.

A short time later, prosecutors say, the U.S. government rejected an application from PPG for a license to sell paint to an unnamed government-owned Chinese company, for use on the steel lining of the containment area of Chashma II. So PPG officials said the coatings were to be used at a nuclear power plant in China, where exports don't require a license from the Commerce Department.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a Gareth Porter piece in Asia Times re Israeli intelligence MOSAD as the source of information about alleged Iranian nukes:

The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published by a Washington think-tank on Tuesday repeated the sensational claim previously reported by news media all over the world that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had helped Iran construct a detonation system that could be used for a nuclear weapon.

But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives.

In fact, Danilenko, a Ukrainian, has worked solely on nanodiamonds from the beginning of his research career and is considered one of the pioneers in the development of nanodiamond technology, as published scientific papers confirm.

It now appears that the IAEA and David Albright, the director of the International Institute for Science and Security in Washington, who was the source of the news reports about Danilenko, never bothered to check the accuracy of the original claim by an unnamed "Member State" on which the IAEA based its assertion about his nuclear weapons background.
The unnamed member state that informed the agency about Danilenko's alleged experience as a Soviet nuclear weapons scientist is almost certainly Israel, which has been the source of virtually all the purported intelligence on Iranian work on nuclear weapons over the past decade.

Israel has made no secret of its determination to influence world opinion on the Iranian nuclear program by disseminating information to governments and news media, including purported Iran government documents. Israeli Foreign Ministry and intelligence officials told journalists Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins about the special unit of Mossad dedicated to that task at the very time the fraudulent documents were being produced.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Salon Op Ed "America: The Ally from Hell" by Jordan Michael Smith:

If there is one thing Republican presidential candidates agree on, it’s the treachery of Pakistan. Rep. Michele Bachmann leads the pack. At last week’s GOP debate, she called Pakistan “violent” and “more than an existential threat” to the United States, because it is “a nation that lies, that does everything possible that you could imagine wrong.” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Pakistan has “shown us time after time that they can’t be trusted.” He called for a cutoff of aid, a line that drew applause from the audience. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said on Sunday that America might have to “look for a new partner in the region” and also suggested a cutoff in aid might be in order.

It is not only GOP leaders who are obsessed with Pakistan. “The Ally From Hell,” screams the cover of this month’s Atlantic. New York’s Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman called Pakistan “perfidious” recently, saying the country was not an ally, a friend, a partner or a teammate. “Pakistan is on its own side, period,” Ackerman said at a House Subcommittee Hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One would think from all this talk that America’s behavior vis-à-vis Pakistan has been pure and good. But the reality could not be further from the self-righteous claims persistently emanating from Washington’s complainers. America has acted no better than Pakistan in the relationship, and may even have been the worse partner. Understanding the fury over NATO’s recent killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers requires a deeper look at the relationship.

Let’s begin near the beginning. Within days of the 9/11 attacks, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was deputized to meet with a Pakistani official. According to Pakistan’s then-President Pervez Musharraf, Armitage said that Pakistan, if it did not cooperate unconditionally with the United States, needed to be prepared to be “bombed backed to the stone age.”

Armitage was only reinforcing Secretary of State Colin Powell’s message to Musharraf, which included a list of demands, among them full use of Pakistani airspace, closure of its borders with Afghanistan, and use of its territory as a staging base. In return, Pakistan was granted loads of cash — and the pleasant experience of not being bombed back to the stone age.
A December 2009 cable from WikiLeaks supports Cordesman’s view. Sent by then-Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson to the State Department in 2009, the cable argues that drones are effective in killing al-Qaida henchmen, but will not succeed in entirely eliminating the terrorist group’s leadership. In the meantime, “Increased unilateral operations in these areas risk destabilizing the Pakistan state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis within Pakistan without finally achieving the goal [of eliminating the al-Qaida and Taliban leadership].”

Destabilizing Pakistan is the worst option of all. It is a large nation with nuclear weapons, situated between Afghanistan, China, India and Iran, with a sizable contingent of anti-American sentiment. Few things should be more disturbing to American minds than the prospect of Pakistani disintegration.

And yet that is exactly what the hawks who so loudly denounced Pakistan’s perfidy risk achieving. Remember that the next time you hear about the country’s halfhearted support for American operations in the region. Better to be halfhearted than half-brained.
Riaz Haq said…
Opposing views in Washington Post blogs on US-Pak relations:

“In other words, as much as some might like it to be otherwise, writing Pakistan out of the U.S. foreign policy script is not an option. This is true even in the aftermath of last weekend’s NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, triggering yet another crisis in the tortured U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” write Jane Harman and Robert Hathaway. (Washington Post)

“Instead of relying heavily on Pakistan as a supply corridor, the United States should expand its cooperation with Russia, which has been playing an increasingly important role in military transit to and from Afghanistan. This would serve as both a hedge and a warning to the generals who control Pakistan,” write Dov Zakheim and Paul Saunders. (New York Times)
Riaz Haq said…
US Council on Foreign Relation elevates risk of conflict with Pakistan in 2012, according to AFP:

WASHINGTON: A conflict with Pakistan, the euro crisis, and a political instability in Saudi Arabia and have emerged as top potential threats facing the United States in 2012, an influential think-tank said Friday.

The Council on Foreign Relation’s Center for Preventive Action anonymously surveyed US officials and experts to compile an annual list of the most plausible conflicts for the United States in the new year.

The 2012 list elevated several contingencies to the top tier of risks: a US conflict with Pakistan prompted by an attack or counter-terrorism operation; an intensified euro crisis, which could plunge the United States back into recession; and a Saudi instability, which would threaten global oil supplies.

Threats that remained at the top of the list from last year included a potential incident between the United States and China, internal instability in Pakistan, intensified nuclear crises with Iran or North Korea, and a spillover of drug-related violence from Mexico.

Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who focuses on conflict resolution, said that the survey was designed to fill a gap as the US government has a poor record forecasting future instability and conflict.

“It is a perennial problem to get policymakers to focus on future challenges when dealing with the tyranny of the inbox,” Zenko said, referring to the overwhelming flow of messages.

“But in an age of austerity it has never been more important to forecast, prevent or mitigate plausible contingencies that could result in an expensive and long-lasting US military involvement,” he said.

The survey elevated the risk of conflict with Pakistan amid high tensions in 2011 following the US operation that killed Osama bin Laden. But the think-tank removed the potential for military escalation between Pakistan and arch-rival India from the top tier of risks.

The survey also added Bahrain as a “tier-two” risk to the United States, citing fears that growing instability in the Sunni-ruled kingdom could spur fresh military action by Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Other risks that were downgraded or removed from last year included:

- Intensified military conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

- Renewed military conflict between Russia and Georgia.

- Violent instability in Thailand.

- Violent instability in Myanmar.

- A succession crisis in Zimbabwe.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Huffington Post piece on US-Pak ties and US elections:

The crises of 2011 are ripping apart a working relationship with Pakistan. Controversy over CIA agent Raymond Davis, the raid on the bin Laden compound, accusations of ISI support for the Taliban, civilian casualties caused by drone attacks, and now NATO airstrikes on Pakistani soldiers have roiled emotions. One must view these events as a whole, not individually. They are tying the hands of Pakistan's military and civilian leaders in cooperating with the U.S. to fight our common enemies. Here, political attitudes and opinions on Capitol Hill and among voters have hardened, complicating our ability to forge policies that enable effective engagement with Pakistan.

The interests of both countries mandate that Pakistan's military and elected government unite in fighting violent extremism. One needed step is strong Pakistani communication campaign to marginalize and de-legitimize the extremists. That could lay the political foundation for taking the military battle to militants. They've at time proven they can do that. But the controversies over U.S. actions have instead led Islamabad to adopt policies that obstruct fighting extremists. Success requires that we work together to overcome the widely shared perception that the U.S. deliberately seeks to abuse Pakistani sovereignty and that cooperation with us makes the military or civilians American pawns.

What can the presidential aspirants do? They can go beyond the current rhetoric to register points that resonate with Pakistanis and serve our mutual interests. Turning relations with Pakistan into partisan fodder is not useful. It would send a powerful message for the Pakistanis to hear from both parties the following:

· The U.S. supports the primacy of elected civilian government and democratic institutions even while it works with Pakistan's military leaders to address our interests, especially in Afghanistan.
· While we may have to condition our military aid to Pakistan's cooperation within its borders in fighting Afghan insurgents, we should stand strongly behind pro-democracy forces. That embraces targeted civilian aid that is carefully monitored to ensure proper use and branding so that we receive credit for our contributions.
· The U.S. is ready to expand trade by foregoing the protectionism so hurtful to Pakistan's struggling economy. This assistance as well as creation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones will win us more friends than our current aid programs. This will show that in the national interest we are prepared to make difficult domestic political decisions.
· We recognize that Pakistan has legitimate security interests in Afghanistan and that with 35 million Pashtuns, no Pakistan government can support action that fails to address their concerns. But we won't tolerate its using the Pashtun card to meddle, and
won't allow it to obstruct a political settlement that would end the insurgency.
· Whatever suspicion Pakistan may harbor, as journalist Zahid Hussain has noted, only the U.S. offers Pakistanis hope for the future. No other nation does that.

These messages to Pakistan will put the political discourse between Pakistan and the U.S. on a sounder footing. It will vest Pakistani policy makers and military with more flexibility to fight violent extremism and help revitalize ties with the U.S. What the candidates for President say, and how they say it, can make a huge difference in advancing or blocking what is mutually beneficial. Meanwhile, it will require Pakistani leaders who are willing to stand up against the tide of opinion and take their own political risks.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan is turning away from the West and looking East, reports

(Dai Bingguo) visit came shortly after Beijing and Islamabad finalized a $1.6 billion currency swap agreement which will allow the two countries to boost their trade relations and decrease the involvement of the dollar. Currently China-Pakistan trade stands at $10 billion a year, but Dai has called for that figure to be increased to $15 billion over the next three to four years.

China is strengthening its role as a regional leader, and Pakistan is among key targets for Beijing’s influence building strategy. It is investing in a number of big construction projects in the country, including the Karakorum Highway and Gwadar Port, both of which will improve China’s transport links with energy-rich Gulf nations. It will also help Pakistan develop its nuclear power industry.

The Chinese army also regularly performs joint war games with Pakistani forces. Islamabad is seeking China’s military support against its long-time rival, India, while China needs a stable and well-defended Pakistan to stop any future incursion into its territory of extremists from volatile Afghanistan.

The visit comes as Pakistan distances itself from its long-time strategic ally, the US. The year 2011 was a difficult one for relations between Islamabad and Washington, with a number of incidents contributing to the deterioration. The downward spiral started in January when a CIA contractor killed two men but later evaded punishment because families of the victims were paid blood money. The case caused anger in Pakistan when the US said the perpetrator had diplomatic immunity and demanded his release.

In May, US commandos raided Pakistan’s territory and killed Osama bin Laden, who had been living in the country for several years. Islamabad was given no warning of the operation, which angered the Pakistani military. Washington said if it had informed Pakistan’s government in advance, the Al-Qaeda leader would have been alerted, enabling him to escape.

In November, a US air strike on a Pakistani border post killed 24 troops who were mistaken for Taliban militants. It took the Pentagon a month to reluctantly admit their part of the blame for the deadly mistake and offer apologies. However, the Pakistani military do not appear to consider the case closed.

The Americans also have their share of grudges against Pakistan, from the alleged embezzlement of military aid to alleged support for Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, to harboring bin Laden. With relations between the allies deteriorating, Pakistan has more and more incentive to turn away from the US as its key partner and side with China, which challenges American influence in the region.

Joseph Chang, a professor of political science at Hong Kong City University, believes the alliance is beneficial to both sides. China, an ally of Pakistan against India and Soviet Union during the Cold War, now sees the benefits of a partnership with Pakistan as primarily economic.

“Pakistan has been Beijing’s best ally throughout the history of the People’s Republic of China,” he told RT. “Increasingly, Pakistan has a certain strategic value to China because of the completion of the Karakorum Highway, as well as the almost-completion of the Gwadar port. China certainly hopes that it can, through land links to Pakistan, then open up sea links to the Indian Ocean and bring oil through this route, avoiding the overcrowded Straits of Malacca.”

Chang believes Pakistan could also profit from the alliance: “China is always very helpful in terms of trade, investment as well as military and economic aid. So having an ally like China will help to much strengthen Pakistan’s bargaining power with Washington DC.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Canada-#India 3000 ton uranium deal will spur nuclear proliferation, experts warn. #Pakistan #Iran ... some nuclear proliferation experts say India has been able to make such a deal without abiding by the rules set out for most other countries that abide by the international non-proliferation regime. And they warn that countries the West has been attempting to bring into the rules-based system — such as Iran — will be less inclined to submit when they see the rules don't apply to India....Canadian technology used to gain bomb...India shocked the world when it conducted its first nuclear test in 1974. By then, the world had already grown used to the idea of an established club of nuclear nations, the same five that held permanent seats at the UN Security Council: the U.S., the Soviet Union, China, Britain and France....Israel and South Africa had already succeeded in developing nuclear weapons by working together, but neither country had tested them and their nuclear arsenals were still a well-kept secret....It was a bedrock principle of international security that no new nation should be allowed to join the nuclear weapons club....The Indian blast would set off an arms race on the subcontinent that culminated in a nuclear test by Pakistan in 1998. Today, the sub-continent is considered one of the most likely flashpoints for a future nuclear conflict.
Riaz Haq said…
#India has 140 #Nuclear Warheads and estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150-200 nuclear warheads. India maintains 3 or 4 nuclear strike squadrons of French-made Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft targeted at #Pakistan and #China.

“India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, but has likely produced only 130 to 140,” according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building several new plutonium production facilities.”

In addition, “India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least five new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems.”

Unlike the missile-centric U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, India still heavily relies on bombers, perhaps not unexpected for a nation that fielded its first nuclear-capable ballistic missile in 2003. Kristensen and Korda estimate India maintains three or four nuclear strike squadrons of Cold War-vintage, French-made Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft targeted at Pakistan and China.

“Despite the upgrades, the original nuclear bombers are getting old and India is probably searching for a modern fighter-bomber that could potentially take over the air-based nuclear strike role in the future,” the report notes. India is buying thirty-six French Rafale fighters that carry nuclear weapons in French service, and presumably could do for India.

India’s nuclear missile force is only fifteen years old, but it already has four types of land-based ballistic missiles: the short-range Prithvi-II and Agni-I, the medium-range Agni-II and the intermediate-range Agni-III. “At least two other longer-range Agni missiles are under development: the Agni-IV and Agni-V,” says the report. “It remains to be seen how many of these missile types India plans to fully develop and keep in its arsenal. Some may serve as technology development programs toward longer-range missiles.”

“Although the Indian government has made no statements about the future size or composition of its land-based missile force, short-range and redundant missile types could potentially be discontinued, with only medium- and long-range missiles deployed in the future to provide a mix of strike options against near and distant targets,” the report noted.

India is also developing the Nirbhay ground-launched cruise missile, similar to the U.S. Tomahawk. In addition, there is Dhanush sea-based, short-range ballistic missile, which is fired from two specially-configured patrol vessels. The report estimates that India is building three or four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which will be equipped with a short-range missile, or a bigger missile with a range of 2,000 miles.

It’s an ambitious program. “The government appears to be planning to field a diverse missile force that will be expensive to maintain and operate,” the report points out.

What remains to be seen is what will be the command and control system to make sure these missiles are fired when—and only when—they should be. And, of course, since Pakistan and China also have nuclear weapons, Indian leaders may find that more nukes only lead to an arms race that paradoxically leaves their nation less secure.
Riaz Haq said…
#India, #Pakistan #nuclear procurement networks larger than thought. 222 companies that did business with the nuclear facilities in India that had no #IAEA oversight. Pakistan got around a lot more stringent controls than India #nukes

“India and Pakistan are taking advantage of gaps in global non-proliferation regimes and export controls to get what they need,” said Jack Margolin, a C4ADS analyst and co-author of the report.

It is seldom possible to determine whether individual transactions are illegal by using publicly available data, Margolin said, and the report does not suggest that companies mentioned broke national or international laws or regulations.

But past reports by the think tank, whose financial backers include the Carnegie Corporation and the Wyss Foundation, have often led to action by law enforcement agencies.


Pakistan, which is subject to strict international export controls on its programme, has 113 suspected foreign suppliers listed by the United States and Japan. But the C4ADS report found an additional 46, many in shipment hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.


“In Pakistan’s case, they have a lot more stringent controls, and they get around these by using transnational networks… and exploiting opaque jurisdictions,” Margolin said.

The father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, AQ Khan, admitted in 2004 to selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya. He was pardoned a day later by Pakistani authorities, which have refused requests from international investigators to question him.

India has a waiver that allows it to buy nuclear technology from international markets. The Indian government allows inspections of some nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but not all of them.

Neither India or Pakistan have signed the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, adhered to by most nuclear powers. Consequently, they are not obliged to submit to IAEA oversight over all of their facilities.

C4ADS identified 222 companies that did business with the nuclear facilities in India that had no IAEA oversight. Of these, 86 companies did business with more than one such nuclear facility in India.

“It’s evidence that more needs to be done, and that there needs to be a more sophisticated approach taken to India,” Margolin said. “Just because the product is not explicitly bound for a military facility, that doesn’t mean that the due diligence process ends there.”

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times - twice over the disputed Kashmir region - since they won independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Having for years secretly developed nuclear weapons capability, the two declared themselves nuclear powers following tit-for-tat atomic tests in 1998.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan: The handy Afghan bête noire?Published 2 hours ago on October 1, 2021By Amjed Jaaved

International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) published a ‘research’ dossier titled ‘Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A. Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks‘. The information in the dossier is largely re-churned old wine in new bottle. Still, there are silver linings in the dossier.

Despite its pro-India bias, the dossier admits ‘Khan may have acted largely on his own volition, for his own profit’ (page 2). ‘Khan’s nuclear activities were largely unsupervised by Pakistani governmental authorities and his orders of many more components, than Pakistan’s own enrichment programme required, apparently went undetected’ (p. 66). ‘Most of Khan’s dealings were carried on his own initiative’ (DG, IISS, press statement dated may 2, 2007).

The dossier reflects well on Pakistan’s efforts to tighten its nuclear security and safety controls _ The dossier mentions ‘Many of Pakistan’s internal reforms since 2001, and then following Khan’s confession and confinement to house arrest in 2004, have been transparent and appear to have worked well. A robust command-and-control system is now in place to protect Pakistan’s nuclear assets from diversion, theft and accidental misuse. A.Q. Khan and his known cohorts are out of business’.

The dossier also notes that ‘A new defence policy was adopted in March 2004. This policy reportedly intended to “further strengthen institutionalization of control of strategic assets”, and “turn all policies and decisions from an invisible secrecy into solid documentary form following the recent proliferation scandal” (p. 36).

The dossier realises dangerous implications of the 123 agreement (revised version on anvil) for Pakistan. Extract: ‘Fears that the India-US nuclear cooperation agreement will free up Indian domestic uranium for additional weapons purposes gives Pakistan an additional motivation to continue to produce weapons-grade fissile material of its own. Pakistan has resisted any nonproliferation regimes that it believes would give a ‘perpetual edge’ to India. This is one reason Pakistan has been the country most resistant to negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty’.

Aside from its Pakistan-bashing title, the dossier observes ‘Pakistan was not the only country to evade nuclear export controls to further a covert nuclear weapons programme (page 7). ‘Almost all of the countries that have pursued nuclear weapons programmes obtained at least some of the necessary technologies, tools and materials from suppliers in other countries. Even the United States (which detonated the first nuclear weapon in 1945) utilised refugees and other European scientists for the Manhattan Project and the subsequent development of its nascent nuclear arsenal. The Soviet Union (which first tested an atomic bomb in 1949) acquired its technological foundations through espionage. The United Kingdom (1952) received a technological boost through its involvement in the Manhattan Project. France (1960) discovered the secret solvent for plutonium reprocessing by combing through open-source US literature. China (1964) received extensive technical assistance from the USSR’.

From the dossier, one gets to know that Asher Karni, an Israeli businessman, and Alfred Hempel, an ex Nazi who died in 1989, are co-fathers of India’s ‘indigenous’ bombs. Hempel, a German nuclear entrepreneur, helped India overcome difficulties of heavy-water shortage by organising illicit delivery of a consignment of over 250 tonnes of heavy water to India’s Madras-I reactor, via China, Norway and the USSR. The duo also arranged transfer to India of sensitive nuclear components.

Riaz Haq said…
(Asher) Karni was diverting controlled U.S. goods to India and Pakistan. The source said Karni was buying the items from U.S. brokers, shipping them to South Africa, then re-exporting them to India and Pakistan. The source gave specific information on Karni's attempt to acquire the spark gaps for re-export to Pakistan, including shipping details and email correspondence between Khan, Karni, and Zeki Bilmen of Giza Technologies.

In January 2004, U.S. authorities arrested Asher Karni, an Israeli citizen living in South Africa, for allegedly re-exporting U.S.-made triggered spark gaps from South Africa to Pakistan. Among other things, triggered spark gaps can be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Karni's court records offer a rare glimpse into the workings of a company that allegedly transferred items of use in nuclear weapons, and might have done so again, had authorities not been tipped off. This review of court records is an effort to better understand the illicit trafficking of such items and ways to prevent this. This review does not presume, based on the limited evidence in the court records, to show or acknowledge that any party involved-including Karni, who has not been convicted-is guilty of a crime.

Details of Karni's alleged scheme
According to a U.S. government affidavit against Karni, Humayun Khan, the CEO of a Pakistani company, Pakland PME, approached Karni around June 2003 in search of triggered spark gaps, model number GP-20B, made by PerkinElmer Optoelectronics of Salem, Massachusetts. It is not clear exactly how many spark gaps Pakland initially sought. A source in South Africa told U.S. law enforcement that Pakland sought between 100 and 400 units, according to court records, and Pakland eventually placed an order for 200.

Triggered spark gaps are a dual-use item. They can be used to detonate nuclear weapons or to separate missile stages, but they can also be used in lithotripters, medical devices used to break up kidney stones without surgery. The Nuclear Suppliers Group agreed to restrict their export if there is a risk they will be used in nuclear weapons.[1] Based on the NSG guidelines, the United States requires an export license to send them to countries of nuclear proliferation concern, including India, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan.

In search of the triggered spark gaps, according to the affidavit, Karni first contacted the company Polytec, PerkinElmer's sales representative in France. The affidavit states that in response to Karni's request, a Polytec representative told him that, because of the potential nuclear application of the spark gaps, he would need a U.S. export license to send them to Pakistan. In a fax dated June 11, 2003, Polytec told Karni that the spark gaps were subject to a U.S. export license and that he would need to provide an end-user certificate with detailed information on the spark gaps' end user and use, including a statement that the items would be used in South Africa, not re-exported, and that they would not be used "for nuclear application."

The reference to South Africa in Polytec's fax raises the question of whether Karni told Polytec the final destination was South Africa or, as the affidavit alleges, he said it was Pakistan. Karni may have said the destination was Pakistan and then, when he learned that would need an export license, said they were going to South Africa. By changing his story after learning he would need an export license, Karni certainly would have raised suspicions at Polytec. This might explain why Polytec asked Karni to give written statements that the spark gaps would not be re-exported from South Africa or used in nuclear applications. It is possible, however, that for items such as spark gaps the company might regularly ask for such written guarantees.

Riaz Haq said…
US holds title for world's most powerful military, Pakistan ranks 7th, Where does India stand?

Pakistan has entered the top 10 of the most powerful militaries in the world, securing the seventh spot. Japan and France have dropped to eighth and ninth respectively. The United States, Russia, and China remain the top three.

According to Global Firepower, a prominent data website specializing in defence-related information, the United States possesses the most powerful military force worldwide.

Russia and China follow closely in second and third place, respectively, while India secures the fourth position. The recently released 2023 Military Strength list, which evaluates over 60 factors, also highlights nations with comparatively weaker military forces such as Bhutan and Iceland.

The assessment by Global Firepower takes into account various criteria, including the number of military units, financial resources, logistical capabilities, and geographical considerations, to determine each nation's overall score.

"Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller (and) more technologically-advanced nations to compete with larger (and) lesser-developed powers… special modifiers, in the form of bonuses and penalties, are applied to further refine the list which is compiled annually. Trends do not necessarily indicate a declining power as changes to the GFP formula can also account for this."

The report lists 145 countries and also compares each nation's year-on-year ranking changes.

Here are the 10 nations with the most powerful militaries in the world:

United States




United Kingdom

South Korea





Here are the 10 nations with the least powerful militaries in the world:








Central African Republic


Sierra Leone

The top four nations remain as they were in the 2022 Global Firepower list.

In a shift from the previous year's rankings, the United Kingdom has advanced from eighth to fifth place in terms of military strength. South Korea retains its sixth position from last year.

Notably, Pakistan has entered the top 10, securing the seventh spot. Conversely, Japan and France, which held the fifth and seventh positions respectively last year, have dropped to eighth and ninth this year.

Despite ongoing conflicts and Russia's "special operation" invasion of Ukraine in February of the previous year, Russia maintains its second position. The rankings reflect the evolving dynamics and complexities of global military capabilities and highlight the continuous assessment of various factors influencing military strength.

Popular posts from this blog

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce

Project Azm: Pakistan to Develop 5th Generation Fighter Plane

Pakistan's Saadia Zahidi Leads World Economic Forum's Gender Parity Effort