Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

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Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 17 Sep 2009 08:46

For those who have not seen it yet, here is an interesting article by K Santanam, the person who has uncovered India's nuclear bluff who states in no uncertain terms that the claim that India's thermonuclear test worked is a bluff

http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article21311.ece

But please!!

I do not want a discussion of yields and claims and counter claims. We already have 2 threads on that. Suffice it to say that Santhanam offers new data that support his accusations.

What this revelation does is to call into question India's credibility when it cooks up a nuclear doctrine. If India can bluff about one thing surely the doctrine too could be a similar bluff - an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Indians and the rest of the world.

Indians are used to being told bluffs every day of their lives. I was told 2 months ago that the drains in front of my house will be repaired in 2 weeks. We were told that LSP 3 of LCA would fly by August 2009. Bluffing is part and parcel of the Indian ethos.

But how far can bluffing take nuclear deterrence?

OK there is an argument that says "India has at least 25 kt fission bombs and nobody will be willing to test is that is true or not" But what if someone decides to call India's bluff. What if Pakistan provokes a war and nukes an advancing Indian column on its own territory?

Will India try and bluff its way out its nuclear doctrine that promises total retaliation?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 17 Sep 2009 08:54

Please allow me to reproduce a couple of rants I had on the other forum:

This was in response to a beautiful article by
LT Gen Vinay Shankar
http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?a=jj ... deterrence

shiv wrote:The only conclusions I can reach is that our nation sends out signals of insincerity, cowardice and lack of willpower. When you have a country that that is seen by the world as a bunch of shivering, dithering dhotis - the only reaction to more testing will be ROTFL and it can be judged that more testing is only to reassure ourselves rather than scare anyone else - like baby holding mummy's pallu.

Let me repeat a story that I have told before on BRF. I was once chasing away a fruit vendor illegally parked on my land when he pulled out a knife. Perhaps out of stupidity I was not scared and chased him off and had him dealt with. But the truth is that the vendor could have solved the problem caused by me by knifing me there and then and not worrying about "being a good boy"

Even 25 million tests are not enough if we cannot do what we are supposed to do

  • Make our conventional forces strong enough to scare anyone
    and
  • Show very clearly that we are wiling to use force. Bloody hell - when we are scared to use conventional force against Pakistan, leave alone China do you think anyone on earth will worry about Indian nukes even if we keep on testing forever? Everyone will ROTFL

Our nukes will not help us. More testing will not help us. We need a change of mindset. We truly are a nation of cowardly dhotis and what is in store for us in our karma is unavoidable. Even if we test, nothing will change.


shiv wrote:I am certain fission bombs have been weaponized. but what the revelations question is whether we are sincere and honest in our statements that we will use nukes when needed. That now comes into question.

Even if we used NoKo sized nukes we could have deterrence only if we are sincere that were are actually going to use them at a time of crisis. Testing nukes does not help in proving anything. We are willing to "adjust" and compromise on anything. But that is true for every endeavor in India's national life - so why not this?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 17 Sep 2009 09:16

I think the political leadership in India could be setting up a straw man. It is possible that they do not believe that nuclear war can occur - but want to make a point that anyone can get nukes - thinking that the demonstration of some nuclear ability will reassure Indians and scare others.

It is possible that the political leadership have not thought these things through.

The demonstration of nuclear ability is only one component. The demonstration of willpower is the second.

How can India demonstrate will power:

1) By building up its conventional forces credibly to live up to the Nuclear doctrine statements that India will do exactly that

2) By punishing Pakistan (and other aggravators) militarily to demonstrate that conventional forces are not a bluff.

3) By repeated nuclear testing to show that India recognises (as everyone has always said) that nuclear deterrence requires testing for proof and India cannot bluff the world by pretending that all is well

In my view - any one of these is pointless. All must be done.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby samuel » 17 Sep 2009 09:18

whatever the bluffing up was supposed to help us with won't happen because the bluff turned puff. Puff of course means no deterrence. bluffing down would've brought em down harder on us and is somewhat useless a strategy thus. So, nuclear deterrence cannot survive on a bluff. It needs to be precise, unambiguous and the whole truth, perhaps in a bit understated way.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby svinayak » 17 Sep 2009 09:28

samuel wrote:whatever the bluffing up was supposed to help us with won't happen because the bluff turned puff.

There is no bluffing in nuclear weapons. Either you have credible one or you dont have it.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby csharma » 17 Sep 2009 09:34

I remember having read somewhere that Pakistan and hence China did not believe that the TN bomb worked.

If that is the case, there is no change in situation as far as the perceptions of Chinese and Pakistani govts are concerned.

What this does is that it reduces the common man's confidence in India's deterrence. It also raises the doubt about what else is India bluffing about like missile etc. That might be unfounded though.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby samuel » 17 Sep 2009 09:36

So, how can one reasonably negotiate a nuclear deal without a credible deterrent? Were they just trying to find a graceful way to fold when the US came and told us it was going to help us become a power?
Last edited by samuel on 17 Sep 2009 09:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby svinayak » 17 Sep 2009 09:37

samuel wrote:So, how can one reasonably negotiate a nuclear deal without a credible deterrent?

There was no negotiation in the nuclear deal.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby ramana » 17 Sep 2009 09:37

samuel wrote:So, how can one reasonably negotiate a nuclear deal without a credible deterrent?



That too is bluff.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby samuel » 17 Sep 2009 09:39

And this is why BJP was in a bind? It knew there was no credible deterrent and without that there could not have been a deal, as deals are supposed to go? But it could not say anything because then...

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby anishns » 17 Sep 2009 09:42

Shivji and other members on this thread and with no offense intended towards Indian scientists....

The problem here is that in India.....we create this huge massive bubble proclaiming how great we are and how much we have achieved....and while we are basking in the glory of our endeavors....someone from within takes out a needle and bursts the damn thing to the ground in one shot :lol: Sad but true....reminds me of the game "Snakes and Ladders".

This is quite a unique phenomenon...we don't usually see this behavior from other nationals.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 17 Sep 2009 09:43

csharma wrote:
What this does is that it reduces the common man's confidence in India's deterrence.


I am more pessimistic here.

There is a double bluff being played on the common man here.

Bluff 1 is "Our nukes are fine"
Bluff 2 is "if we shake the boat" (by testing or making war when attacked) our economy will suffer and therefore you will suffer - so rest assured that you are secure.

Indians are being asked to believe that all is well or else they will suffer economically. That means that Indians are being blackmailed and threatened by the GoI into believing that all is well

Now we all know that GoI is supposed to be on India's side. If US is doing the blackmail (about sanctions) the GoI should be open and honest about it - rather than using blackmail to cover up a previous lie.

If you look at it in this way it gets easier to believe that people in government are bring bribed by various powers to lie to the public.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 17 Sep 2009 09:48

anishns wrote:The problem here is that in India.....we create this huge massive bubble proclaiming how great we are and how much we have achieved....and while we are basking in the glory of our endeavors....someone from within takes out a needle and bursts the damn thing to the ground in one shot :lol: Sad but true....reminds me of the game "Snakes and Ladders".

This is quite a unique phenomenon...we don't usually see this behavior from other nationals.

Absolutely - and for the record let me cross post what I wrote in the other thread which also deals with Indian behavior

If insincerity and bluff is demonstrated at such a high level it questions India's resolve in having a nuclear force which we have the gumption to call "deterrence". We may be bluffing ourselves that more testing may help when we lack the resolve to make the arsenal credible and will again fail to use even "little balls" if necessary.

India's overall behavior in the slow and somnolent "Hindu rate of improvement of armed forces" reflects a deep malaise in which we do not have the stomach for the harsh realities of modern geopolitics.

Europe, Russia, the US and even Korea went through hard war and realise what it means to kill and be killed. But India got away easily. Independence came easy - with all memories of past genocides being forgotten. And "genocide" is always of a losing party that is unable to fight back. We don't even want to face minor economic hardship leave alone war.

We are a mentally weak nation who like to bluff ourselves like holding mummy's sari gives confidence. Testing more nukes and even talk of 25 kt MIRVs are part of that same bluff. And some people get worried and worked up when we discuss Indian psyche - when it actually fundamentally defines our anomalous behavior. The nuclear issue shows every side of it.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby samuel » 17 Sep 2009 09:51

What disservice to the nation.
-- negotiate a nuclear deal without a credible deterrent. MMS is directly responsible.
-- pretend to "believe our scientists"
-- base an entire defense posture on this bluff. ABV is responsible.

They must be shittin now, what with China snipping. Say, when did China figure it out (for it must've know its cities are safe and it holds conventional superiority)? What did the US really tell us to do and what did it tell them of us?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Babu Bihari » 17 Sep 2009 10:07

samuel wrote:So, how can one reasonably negotiate a nuclear deal without a credible deterrent?


for this, you have to see the MMS way of thinking. he criticized 1998 n-tests in Parliament(?), his philosophy is that security comes from prosperity. he thought n-deal would bring prosperity and hence security too. indian nukes were not in his equation.
..........

many would now start arguing that fissions bums are sufficient for india's deterrence.

scenario: if chinis nuke some nondescript village in AP and convey to dilli sarkar that any nuke, no matter how small, would results in total destruction of 50 indian biggest cities with TN tipped mijjles. now would any indian PM have balls to order retaliation in line with our nuclear doctrine? and how is thinking will be changed and will the chinis take such a chance if we have TN tippes mijjles which would match chini capability?

...........
what about santhanam now? will OSA be used? [i dont think so, since it will be counter productive]

..........
prediction: fizzle or sizzle, there will be NO nuke tests at least till MMS is india's PM.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby csharma » 17 Sep 2009 10:08

I am more pessimistic here.

There is a double bluff being played on the common man here.

Bluff 1 is "Our nukes are fine"
Bluff 2 is "if we shake the boat" (by testing or making war when attacked) our economy will suffer and therefore you will suffer - so rest assured that you are secure.

Indians are being asked to believe that all is well or else they will suffer economically. That means that Indians are being blackmailed and threatened by the GoI into believing that all is well

Now we all know that GoI is supposed to be on India's side. If US is doing the blackmail (about sanctions) the GoI should be open and honest about it - rather than using blackmail to cover up a previous lie.

If you look at it in this way it gets easier to believe that people in government are bring bribed by various powers to lie to the public.

shiv, while the latest revelations from Santhanam are shocking, is there reason to believe that fission devices do not work. If the 60-80KT devices have been manufactured per K Subrahmanyam, why would one believe that there is no deterrence. I know many people would doubt anything K Subrahmanyam would say but less assume for a moment he is right on that count.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby JwalaMukhi » 17 Sep 2009 10:10

Lying by the powers that be is no cause for surprise at all. The establishment lies to Indians right from depicting all is well in J&K from childhood and depicting maps without informing the true status of that. Lying is part and parcel of management of the Indian populace by the establishment in the interests of global (read as gravy train looters and partakers) community. Treating Indians as incapable of facing upto the truth and treating the populace as not mature enough has been the ploy. Speaking truth will cause the establishment to loose its ground fast.

In all such cases, there is no surprise because India is ruled by the alienated (aliens at heart but wearing the garb of SDRE flesh and bones). So no surprises at all. In fact there is lot of hope because even with such a faulty setup India has achieved quite remarkable things, inspite of the rascals. Thanks to few good souls who have courage to carry on in spite of the suffocating ambience in the establishment. When India has rulers who truly are representatives of the populace, then even more remarkable achievements will be the norm.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby anishns » 17 Sep 2009 10:26

csharmaji....all that would have been fine and dandy if after the revelation by Dr.Santhanam to the dorkie media...Did any representative of GoI come out and make statements like, with or without TN, India is still a solid nuclear force to reckon with....and that despite all the talk by the media and senior scientists themselves doubting our capabilities, our fission and possibly fusion nuclear assets are not compromised and we are still comfortably adding a credible number of warheads every year to retain our desired deterrent level even with or without TN's....If anyone has a doubt come and wage a nuclear war with India....

No, there are no such assurances. All we hear is that the yield was good enough.....Santhanam is lying....No! Dr. Kalam is lying. Crux of the matter is that our nation has been sold out and our press is making a mockery of our nationhood...making us a joke to the rest of the world. Why do we have this obsession with finding out the truth?? Is it because of "Satyamev Jayate"?? The Truth always prevails even if sometime it is necessary to achieve the truth with the help of a lie.

Lord Krishna himself said that if a lie needs to be used for the good.....then it is worth a thousand truths. Had this thing happened in a Russia or a China or for that matter even Pakistan......would it be out so openly?? No way Jose! They would have quietly fooled the world making them believe that we have the biggest god damned nuclear bomb in the world and the whole entire world and their own people would have been in awe!!!!

But, our government can only lie to its own people...and they don't even know how to cover it up....sadly

csharma wrote: shiv, while the latest revelations from Santhanam are shocking, is there reason to believe that fission devices do not work. If the 60-80KT devices have been manufactured per K Subrahmanyam, why would one believe that there is no deterrence. I know many people would doubt anything K Subrahmanyam would say but less assume for a moment he is right on that count.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rahul Mehta » 17 Sep 2009 11:33

Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

NO

========

US knows our bluff. China knows our bluff. The only ones who got fooled by our bluff are Indians and no one else.

I dont see ANY possibility of nuke-war with China. And I see 100% possibility of nuke war with Pakistan. China, US, Saud etc will pay Pakistani elitemen any money they want to throw nukes on India. And given that Pakistani elite is not cohesive and now is in "take money and settle in US" mode, they *will* throw nukes on India.

The only way to save us is to tell US, China, Pak and Saud that "look, if Pak throws evem 0.1 of nukes, we will nuke ENTIRE US, China, Saud and Pakistan". IOW, one nuke on India and not just Pakistan, but whole planet will burn. Such intense threat is ONLY way to make China, US and Saud control Pakistan.

So we must create a 4000 kt explosion and melt away one island. eg Russia did a 15000kt explosion and that created 2 km wide hole in an island and later the island disappeared due to cracks. We must melt down at least 5 small islands like this. And we should make as many nukes as China has, to start. And we should display this on net, and send junk mail to EVERY person in US, Saud, China, Pakistan etc about our nuke capability. I am serious, not joking.

Creating intense fear in every person is the ONLY way to stop a nuke attack on India.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 12:13

There is no bluffing in nuclear weapons. Either you have credible one or you dont have it.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby anishns » 17 Sep 2009 12:40

Rahul Mehtaji.....with all due respect.....Just how do you propose we do that? :wink:

If I understand correctly, to produce nuclear bums on that scale we need unlimited amounts of uranium and/or plutonium....last I heard we don't hold 1/3rd of the world's uranium reserves. Also, the largest uranium producer in the world won't sell any to us. Hey, we are not even investing or exploring possibilities of mining whatever limited amounts of uranium we have.... :roll:

Secondly, our own scientists are convinced that our bums are merely meant for Diwali celebrations.....and what do you know? our illustrious media doesn't spare two words in highlighting the same to the rest of the world and making a mockery of our so called "Nuclear Deterrant"

Thirdly, we don't share the same bonhomie with Russia as we shared with the erstwhile Soviet Union. Hell if that was the case maybe just maybe the Soviets would have handed us the "Tzar Bomba" on a platter just like the Chinese gave it to NKO or PAK. Cold war is over, times have changed, alliances have been reformed.

What needs to change is the Indian people's perception of the world and their belief in their country as a whole and unquestionable support to national interests. They have to realize without national security there is no economic prosperity. We have to inculcate strong & dynamic political leaders and get them into power....we cannot let economists dictate matters of national security.....they are just not capable of dealing with this situation.

Since, we don't have any ally to think of, who can bail us out over this looming chinese aggression, unfortunately its time to empty the coffers and buy us friends. We will need to spend billions on getting the best equipment for our armed forces....who despite the government & people letting them down all the time, are still doing a great job and keeping up their morale....kudos to them! Statements like we are not ready and that we cannot match China militarily so, lets cower in our dhotis and hide, should not be allowed to be shamelessly plastered across our media.....It only spreads FUD and causes panic among the common people.

MMS should possibly go on a tour fostering support for India as an important upholder of democratic institution and seek help militarily, logistically and financially against the face of chinese aggression. Make the world believe that if India goes down....so do the values that the west has epitomized after WWII. Rather than allowing Shashi Tharoor to come on TV and make statements like "China is India's largest trading partner....so what can we do???", some representative of the MEA or NSA needs to come out and make a strong statement against any foreign aggression despite adverse ramifications on economic growth. China is just a bully....and we do need lessons on how to handle a bully. The more we cower in our dhotis the more the bullying posture.

Before that my friend, we can explode as many bums as we like.....no one will take our deterrence seriously.

Rahul Mehta wrote:Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

NO

========

US knows our bluff. China knows our bluff. The only ones who got fooled by our bluff are Indians and no one else.

I dont see ANY possibility of nuke-war with China. And I see 100% possibility of nuke war with Pakistan. China, US, Saud etc will pay Pakistani elitemen any money they want to throw nukes on India. And given that Pakistani elite is not cohesive and now is in "take money and settle in US" mode, they *will* throw nukes on India.

The only way to save us is to tell US, China, Pak and Saud that "look, if Pak throws evem 0.1 of nukes, we will nuke ENTIRE US, China, Saud and Pakistan". IOW, one nuke on India and not just Pakistan, but whole planet will burn. Such intense threat is ONLY way to make China, US and Saud control Pakistan.

So we must create a 4000 kt explosion and melt away one island. eg Russia did a 15000kt explosion and that created 2 km wide hole in an island and later the island disappeared due to cracks. We must melt down at least 5 small islands like this. And we should make as many nukes as China has, to start. And we should display this on net, and send junk mail to EVERY person in US, Saud, China, Pakistan etc about our nuke capability. I am serious, not joking.

Creating intense fear in every person is the ONLY way to stop a nuke attack on India.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rishirishi » 17 Sep 2009 12:59

The Thermonuclear bomb, may be a bluff adressed to Indians.

However it is proven and accepted fact that India does have the capability to use 50kt+ devices. Now that is a genuine threat no one can discount. It is also a proven fact that India has probably 10000kg of plutonium to make several hundred devices. Hence the capability exists to destroy TSP and criple china for a very very long time. Only 12 devices aimed at Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, Xiamen, Don Guang, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Forshan, Hong Kong, and Chengdu, will destroy the economic miracle. Further 40-60 devices aimed at industrial clusters and centres and you have a cost that is unacceptable. No country Neiter TSP, India or China can afford a nuclear war. No country can even think of it.

As for the argument that India is pacifist.

India has an image of pacifism (thanks to Gandhi and indignious religions). But was India pacifist when it split TSP ? Is India pacifist in Afghanistan ? Is India pacifist with its 10 000+ raw agents in TSP? Or is India pacifist with its 1 million + army?

Some may claim that India is too reluctant to use force and the armed forces. I cannot see when that has been the case. In Kargil, India did not even consider leaving the ground. In Siachin we know how India has been involved in a tit for tat conflict. Not all conflicts can be solved by the armed forces. We saw that in Sri Lanka, we see that in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 13:09

Rishirishi wrote: Only 12 devices aimed at Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzen, Xiamen, Don Guang, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Forshan, Hong Kong, and Chengdu, will destroy the economic miracle. Further 40-60 devices aimed at industrial clusters and centres and you have a cost that is unacceptable.


Can you please outline the number of warheads to achieve those? Please also calculate the number of delivery vehicles too.

And note since it is second strike it means we will be doing what you say AFTER Delhi and Mumbai and ..... are all hit already hit by MULTIPLE 300 KT thermonukes. Also keep in mind that many of our strike assests would have by then already degraded.

Some may claim that India is too reluctant to use force and the armed forces. I cannot see when that has been the case.


1947, 1962, 2008.
Last edited by Sanku on 17 Sep 2009 15:06, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby anishns » 17 Sep 2009 13:33

Rishirishi, do you have any credible sources of India possessing 10000kg of plutonium? Last I heard we were waiting for nuclear fuel from Russia for one of our reactors?

When India split TSP the leadership at the helm was way different....can you compare it with the leaders of today? Having a million+ army or 10,000 RAW agents in Pak did not deter it from doing a Kargil or a Mumbai. If at all those 10,000 RAW agents that you speak of should be disbanded coz' they are completely ineffective....compared to them ISI is way better.

If India is too reluctant to use the armed forces then why spend billions on foreign toys that probably will never get used. Instead I would then spend the same amount of money hardening home security. Buy the best for the police and reserve guards so, when India doesn't use force on the outside atleast it can react in a timely and effective manner to threats and attacks from the inside. Will that not save innocent lives?

What I am trying to say here is that we have very well maintained a defensive posture but, have earned nothing out of it.....maybe we should go on the offensive and finish what others start! So, that before they do another Kargil or Mumbai......the fear of god is instilled in them swiftly and firmly.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Bheem » 17 Sep 2009 14:02

Bluff against whom?? China & Pak ?? Would not work!


Am I reading this article correctly? It would mean that Total yield of both tests is 40-60kt, fission is 25kt and TN is also 15-35kt. Means that TN did not work at all. Even Arun _s (with his low estimate of 30kt) may actually be giving a higher estimate.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby anishns » 17 Sep 2009 14:25

Bheem Sahab! Please read the very first post in this thread....
A friendly FYI :wink:

Bheem wrote:Bluff against whom?? China & Pak ?? Would not work!


Am I reading this article correctly? It would mean that Total yield of both tests is 40-60kt, fission is 25kt and TN is also 15-35kt. Means that TN did not work at all. Even Arun _s (with his low estimate of 30kt) may actually be giving a higher estimate.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2009 14:35

This bluffing, if true, is a direct result of the then political leadership. I have no problem with the bluff per se. Governments have to indulge in them now and then in order to govern. We cannot and should not expect governance to be morally and ethically scrupulous. These are personal traits that have no relevance in the art of governance. This bluff, if true, was most unwarranted.

However, I have a huge problem with the way the tests were conducted. We always plan for disasters, failures etc. These will occur and only through them are we going to learn and perfect our designs. This is especially so in the nuclear weapons field. The TN may very well have failed. What was the contigency plan ? I perfectly understand that it may take a while to analyze and accurately determine that the test was indeed a success or a failure. So, where was the tearing hurry for Vajpayee to announce a self-imposed moratorium on further testing immediately after the Shakti series and without waiting for the confirmation from all sources that the tests were indeed successful. As K. Santhanam says, DRDO itself could produce a report only by Oct. 1998 and a DRDO-BARC-NSA-Service Chief (why were the service chiefs there at all when there was no conclusive evidence one way or another ? What could they have contributed to the discussion ?) meeting was held in late 1998 and there was a divergence of opinion. But, in May 1998 itself Vajpayee had announced his moratorium which we were held to in the nuclear deal later on. The announcement of moratorium would not lessen the hardships that we were expected to face after the detonation. If it was expected to soften the international blow, our NSA and our PM did not think through the consequences of the tests. The punishment would not have been significantly harsher if we had defiantly conducted a few more tests after a few more months when the results were completely in and we had doubts that needed to be set right once and for all. The small think-tank that constituted the core for Shakti had not taken into account all ramifications. Were the scientists asked what would happen if the tests were a failure and how quickly we could re-conduct them, for example ?

It is my contention that the weak political leadership, by hurriedly announcing a moratorium, put the nation and generations to come in trouble. If the TN was a failure, it was then made to look like a success. If bluffing was resorted to in order to cover up failure of strategic decision making, then we have suffered enormously because we are now bound by it.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 15:04

The bluff was clearly a measure to buy time till we were ready, a self imposed moratorium means nothing apart from flowery words. Its like Karunanidhi's fast, between breakfast and lunch.

The problem arose when that moratorium was spun into 123 and hardened into cast cement via Hyde -- the BJP did all they could to oppose it, but could not speak about how the bum was not ready, how could they, who would have believed them that they were not lying now to oppose congress.

No one expected a drastic change in direction from the usual 60 year GoI line, yes different GoIs did a good or a bad job but the task was same.

UPA I changed the task before the nation, and UPA II is taking it to the next level (Spill bill giving a clean chit to Firangi's, EUMA etc)

Thus the revolt within GoI now (who knows if Pranab and Antony are behind this)

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2009 15:19

Sanku wrote:The bluff was clearly a measure to buy time till we were ready, a self imposed moratorium means nothing apart from flowery words. Its like Karunanidhi's fast, between breakfast and lunch.


Sanku, that's exactly my point. The bluff didn't buy us anything just like those MK fasts. OTOH, it has only heped the NPAs to hold our nose to the grinding wheel. There was absolutely no need to talk about moratorium until we were clear about what we had achieved or not. We should have all the while dangled the possibility of a moratorium while engaging with the US in the aftermath of the tests. After having defied the far more serious act of detonation, what incremental benefit would a self-imposed moratorium bring us ? OTOH, we could have leveraged our position better by not discussing about moratorium at all. If others raised the issue of moratorium, we should have used it as a delaying tactic and as a concession. The international repercussions were not softened by our surrender of a potential point of leverage. OTOH, when the results eventually became available in perhaps Dec. 1998, we were caught in a bind and we had to perpetuate the bluff that the TN was a success (assuming that TN was indeed a failure).

Added later: This is not a question of NDA Vs. UPA. I consider this as a failure of strategic thinking that has bugged us for ever.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 15:35

SSridhar wrote:Added later: This is not a question of NDA Vs. UPA. I consider this as a failure of strategic thinking that has bugged us for ever.


I agree that the voluntary moratorium was in hindsight not a good decision to do, however what I am saying is that by itself it would be it would be only a minor embarrassment like MKs fast.

However this was turned into a millstone around our necks (in context of testing) by the UPA.

So as I said before, am I saying that all previous Govt were great and UPA alone is to blame? No -- the question here is not on effectiveness of Govt1 vs Govt2, but the fact that Govt2 seems to want to try and take path2 instead of path1.

Its the difference in approach that is most palpable.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2009 16:07

Unilateral moratorium was not a minor embarrassment, but a major committment. Had we always behaved like a China or a Pakistan, who believe that international committments are meant only to be flouted, it wouldn't have mattered, but Indian leadership has never exhibited such a trait. They are not adept at subterfuge and fraud and are sensitive to criticisms on such a behaviour, again a failure of carrying personal traits into practice of statecraft.

When disaster strikes, there is always a chain of failures and my point is that while failure is natural, we had not sufficiently planned for it or gamed it. In fact, our predicament today is a combination of various failures stretching far back, including of course, the present.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 16:20

SSridhar wrote:1. Unilateral moratorium was not a minor embarrassment, but a major committment.

2. When disaster strikes, there is always a chain of failures and my point is that while failure is natural, we had not sufficiently planned for it or gamed it.


I agree wholeheartedly with 2. and I am by no means downplaying the role of 1 in the present mess.

I would however say that it was still a minor issues in the sense of "for a want of shoe the horse was lost...", it was at best want of a shoe then, and no one would have expected it to turn into a fiasco unless the unilateral part of unilateral was removed to leave just the moratorium part.

We were OK as long as it was unilateral, I would still say it was not a commitment, since it was us making a promise to ourselves.

So effectively while any disaster indeed has a long chain, and bunch of "can not happen" all happen together, we can always seek out the more important causative elements and label the others as those which provide the stage for the same.

And IMVHO the unilateral moratorium was not a major issues. It was but a pile of wood lying in the house, fire prone yes, but the disaster only happened when it was used as fire wood when the expectation was that it was for repairing the roof.

That at least is my reading.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby samuel » 17 Sep 2009 17:14

The problem arose when that moratorium was spun into 123 and hardened into cast cement via Hyde -- the BJP did all they could to oppose it, but could not speak about how the bum was not ready, how could they, who would have believed them that they were not lying now to oppose congress.


This was exactly my point earlier in the thread. The BJP knew. They could not say test was bluff. They could not support deal because there was no real deal on a bluff!

Could they have not waited and conducted another test to ensure it worked? Time ran out, how?

Bluffing ourselves is not in our national interest, and this has nothing to do with morality. The probability that our competitors/enemies know we are bluffing is relatively high (through direct science and indirect information gathering) and using that against us is very probable. Like they say, who are we bluffing (the plaque reads: Satyameva Jayate -- i suppose it is, now).

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby NRao » 17 Sep 2009 17:58

Shiv,

Let us be clear about another aspect of this debate/discussion.

The BLUFF was ONLY WRT the TN device.

India still has other devices that can be used.

So, the "bluff" ASSUMES that there is a NEED for a TN device. Which seems to be the general consensus.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby NRao » 17 Sep 2009 18:15

"Bluff": Does it assume that the act is deliberate?

In this case the events, initially, were not meant to be a bluff.

I even doubt that, even after the result was considered a failure (voice vote), that Mishra thought he was going to bluff anyone.

To me Mishra ran into a wall and had no options. He could not accept a failure - which meant a re-test, not a possibility. And, he could not order a re-design to be tested either.

So, he fell into a state what we now call a bluff.

IF he wanted to "bluff" he would have told everyone that this is a bluff. He would not have told them that he accepts Chidambaram's accepted test results.

The bluff, if at all, came from BARC. Not the politicians IMHO. Even there if at all it is more of a lie than a bluff.

Comments?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby arunsrinivasan » 17 Sep 2009 18:24

^^ A question that follows is, if Mishra knew about the "failure" of the test, why did he support the Nuclear Deal? Did he not know that it would tie us up even more?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Gerard » 17 Sep 2009 18:47

arunsrinivasan wrote:^^ A question that follows is, if Mishra knew about the "failure" of the test, why did he support the Nuclear Deal? Did he not know that it would tie us up even more?


Forget about Mishra

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/why-the-nucl ... 846-3.html
Dr Santhanam replied with an emphatic ‘no’ when he was asked whether India was compromising on its national security, whereas Varadarajan was not certain.

Most of the viewers — 98 per cent of them — also agreed with Dr Santhanam that India was in no way going to compromise national security with this deal. Dr Santhanam said he thought it was going to be a win-win deal for India.


http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2008_04/Ferguson
Acknowledging U.S. influence, top defense expert K. Santhanam, who had a leadership role during the 1998 tests, drew a more direct connection to China and Pakistan. He expressed willingness for India to continue indefinitely the testing moratorium as long as China and Pakistan refrain from testing.


http://www.rediff.com/news/2005/jul/25guest1.htm
We need electricity not this spent fuel. It is worth reminding ourselves of Dr Homi Bhabha's words: No energy is more costly than no energy.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby brihaspati » 17 Sep 2009 19:11

Why not continue testing the TN underground in the Valley - afterall it is an earthquake prone zone. Yes military sats from both China and USA will be closely watching, but if there is a will it can be done. Secretly testing by hook or crook is important until the time comes to formally demonstrate. Then simply claim the right to explode n-number of devices formally for future simulation research before signing CTBT - just as France did. Another good place to test is underground in the NE - another seismically active zone with dense forest cover and difficult area for intel ops.

India is giving up on the psy-war by not preparing openly the population at risk through nuke-fallout drills. This would be an excellent opportunity to paint TSP and PRC as nuke blackmailers and potential users. Over the medium term, the publicity generated will firmly place both countries as potential nuke rogues. On the other hand, I have a nagging suspicion that bluffs are not only happening from this side - but from the other sides too. Either their bluffs are close to getting called, or USA pressurizes both TSP and PRC because it already knows their bluff.
Last edited by brihaspati on 17 Sep 2009 19:16, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby arunsrinivasan » 17 Sep 2009 19:15

@ Gerard, thanks. What explains KS's behavior?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby svinayak » 17 Sep 2009 19:55

arunsrinivasan wrote:^^ A question that follows is, if Mishra knew about the "failure" of the test, why did he support the Nuclear Deal? Did he not know that it would tie us up even more?

Looks like lot of things were promised under the deal which most wanted. But when it did not materialize they may have decided to go open


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