Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby amit » 21 Sep 2009 06:30

vera_k wrote:The AEC has issued a statement that they are confident about the claimed yields. But that statement relies on two meetings in 1998 and 1999. Further, the statement attempts to grant these meetings credibility based on the fact that Raja Ramanna was a member of the AEC at that time.

So, this doesn't count as a peer review, especially not one that happened after KS' allegations. In fact, IMO, it means that a) either the NSA doesn't know the state of affairs with the TN or b) he knows, but has other goals in mind which need this question be put to rest.


Vera,

You are not being factually correct as regards what MKN is supposed to have said as per TOI.

He said that the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which comprises a peer group of scientists, had last week come out with the "most authoritative" statement on the efficacy of the 1998 nuclear tests and no more clarification was required from the government on the matter.

"They (AEC) were satisfied in 1998 and they were satisfied in 2009
. Now what are you going to discuss?" he said to a news channel.


The AEC review which MKN talks about happened after KS' statement and is not based on what they said in 1998-1999.

However, you may choose the say that an AEC peer review cannot be trusted, that's up to you.

The question then of course is who's review would you trust? Do you propose a team comprising KS, PKI, Shetna and others who have cried wolf? Unfortunately unlikely to happen.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby amit » 21 Sep 2009 06:35

Sanku wrote:I think the entire article bases itself not on any responses to the issues raised but on attacking KS as a person.

NKN says that KS does not know a whit. That's the lynchpin of the argument. If true everything he says is right, if not everything he says is wrong.

As to what KS did during Pokhran, he has told the world, if KS does not know anything despite being in that role, I think I will have a Building to sell, white marble onlee.


Sanku,

I'm sure your a good salesman.

However, the point of the TOI article is not MKN's attack on KS. A lot of people have attacked and directly contradicted KS including Brajesh Mishra.

The main point of the article - and the part I quoted - is that MKN is saying that AEC conducted another peer review after KS' statement and felt that the 1998 test results was what it was stated to be.

Now whether you trust the peer review team of the Atomic Energy Commission of India to do an honest job or not is entirely up to you. I don't want to discuss that. I'm just stating the fact as per TOI quote of MKN - to wit a peer review was conducted recently.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby vera_k » 21 Sep 2009 07:03

amit wrote:You are not being factually correct as regards what MKN is supposed to have said as per TOI.

He said that the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which comprises a peer group of scientists, had last week come out with the "most authoritative" statement on the efficacy of the 1998 nuclear tests and no more clarification was required from the government on the matter.


This is the AEC review MKN is talking about. Note that the AEC explicitly states that they are simply reiterating the conclusions of the AEC meetings in 1998 and 1999 and have not conducted a new peer review after Santhanam's went public.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 21 Sep 2009 07:22

Deterrence & Explosive Yield - K.Subrahmanyam & VS Arunachalam
Excerpts
Nuclear deterrence is essentially a mind game. . . . Deterrence is not about the damage one causes to the adversary. It is about what the aggressive side will consider as unacceptable. It is irrelevant whether the destruction is caused by 150 kt weapons or 25 kt weapons.

Obviously, it is not infra-dig for a 3,500-km range missile to carry a 25 kt warhead. Cost-effectiveness calculations have no meaning since the nuclear war itself has no meaning. In a mega-city struck by a couple of 25 kt warheads, apart from the hundreds of thousands of dead, there will be an equal number of people wounded and more people affected by radiation; all of whom will be envying the dead. One of us is revisiting the calculations involved in predicting the extent of destruction inflicted by nuclear weapons. Our preliminary results suggest that even with 25kt fission bombs, the damages are going to be far more and extensive than what Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered given the higher population densities in the cities of China and South Asia and the urban development of recent years. Therefore, the Indian deterrent posture will not lose its credibility if India is compelled to rely on fission weapons only.


I get a distinct feeling that the authors are conceding the fact that there is no TN weapon in our arsenal.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby John Snow » 21 Sep 2009 07:54

Subbu and Aruna have outlived the utility as strategic experts.

No model of USA and USSR are applicable to Sub continental situation.

Ussr nor USA directly enagaged in terrorist activity in each other territory, but we see it every day happen that to India.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 21 Sep 2009 08:04

John Snow wrote:Ussr nor USA directly enagaged in terrorist activity in each other territory, but we see it every day happen that to India.


Not an exact comparison, but Vietnam and Afghanistan?

In my view, what the two gentlemen are saying is that even if one assumes that we do not have TNs, our deterrence does exist. I thoroughly agree with that.

Having said that, I'll say it for the nth time (lest prejudice overtake someone's cerebral hemisphere), I want India to have TNs.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rudradev » 21 Sep 2009 09:06

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:
John Snow wrote:Ussr nor USA directly enagaged in terrorist activity in each other territory, but we see it every day happen that to India.


Not an exact comparison, but Vietnam and Afghanistan?

In my view, what the two gentlemen are saying is that even if one assumes that we do not have TNs, our deterrence does exist. I thoroughly agree with that.

Having said that, I'll say it for the nth time (lest prejudice overtake someone's cerebral hemisphere), I want India to have TNs.


Mr. Bhatia,

I post this without any intention of offending you or attempting to make fun of your words... but you may have (perhaps inadvertently) summarized the entire trap that Constable Singh has led India into, in that statement of yours.

Imagine a conversation between Constable Singh and his DC interlocutors.
Amroo: Dr. Singh, we would like you to sign the CTBT and put all of your nuclear facilities under safeguards.

MMS: Mumble... er, no. We need, um, uh, a credible minimum deterrent. Because of, um, China, and the...the other place, that have nukes. And might use them. Against us.

Amroo: Hmm, that worries me. Look, we know YOU'RE a fine upstanding prime minister, a responsible peace-loving citizen of the world, and your heart's in the right place. But there are some alarmists in your scientific establishment who want to obstruct the road to nuclear cooperation... they're always coming out with these reports about how the thermonuclear weapon test of 1998 didn't succeed as announced.

MMS: No, no, those people are Hindoo Nationalists! They have no grasp on reality. What nonsense... the 1998 tests were totally successful, we have peer-reviews to prove it! And, umm... even if the peer-reviewers are somehow mistaken... see what our strategists have concluded! Subrahmanyam and Arunachalam are confident that our fission weapons alone would deter any potential adversary.

Amroo: So, Dr. Singh, you feel confident that in spite of what these alarmists have gone to the press with, India possesses a credible nuclear deterrent today?

MMS: Oh yes. Let these scientists say whatever they want. Even if one assumes that we do not have TNs, our deterrence does exist. I thoroughly agree with that.

Amroo: Ok, great! So you have nothing to fear now, and no need to develop your nuclear arsenal any further. Sign the CTBT.

MMS:
Um, er, wait a moment. Having said that, I'll say it for the nth time, I want India to have TNs.

Amroo: What for? Are you flaking out on us, Dr. Singh? You have fission weapons for deterrence... and you're confident that's all the deterrence you need. Even if your peer-review scientists are wrong about the 1998 test being a success, your strategists agree that fission weapons are deterrence enough! So why chase after TNs? What are you, some third-world Strongman?

MMS: But.. but...

Amroo: Come now, doc. You want to be remembered for the 123 agreement don't you? How are we going to make India a superpower if we have to levy economic sanctions against you?

MMS: um... but... but... ok, give me the pen.


This is how the PMO, taking orders directly from DC, issuing lifafas to its mouthpieces in the scientific and strategic communities, and enjoying the willing cooperation of the media, is busily knotting the noose for our nation to hang itself with.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 21 Sep 2009 09:39

No discussion of whether a bluff can sustain deterrence will be complete without taking into account the delivery mechanism. The deterrence is as good as the delivery platforms in the end. That presupposes what CEPs are possible with our missiles. Whether our doctrine is counterforce or countervalue or a combination of both will be dictated by the accuracy or lack thereof of our missiles (I am discounting aircraft-delivered nukes which will not work against China). If we are talking of counterforce, a few 25 kT fission bombs may yet deter; if we are talking of countervalue, these may not be sufficient deterrence against an adversary with a large population and landmass and who is willing to take that punishment and yet capable of inflicting more devastating damage on us. With such an adversary, we will buckle rapidly even though we may be able to lob a few nukes into his territory that may cause damage he can easily sustain. For such an enemy, we necessarily need a counterforce strike capability that can decapitate his assets rather than just amputate a leg or a hand.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 21 Sep 2009 15:23

amit wrote:
Sanku wrote:I think the entire article bases itself not on any responses to the issues raised but on attacking KS as a person.

NKN says that KS does not know a whit. That's the lynchpin of the argument. If true everything he says is right, if not everything he says is wrong.

As to what KS did during Pokhran, he has told the world, if KS does not know anything despite being in that role, I think I will have a Building to sell, white marble onlee.


Sanku,

I'm sure your a good salesman.

However, the point of the TOI article is not MKN's attack on KS. A lot of people have attacked and directly contradicted KS including Brajesh Mishra.

The main point of the article - and the part I quoted - is that MKN is saying that AEC conducted another peer review after KS' statement and felt that the 1998 test results was what it was stated to be.

Now whether you trust the peer review team of the Atomic Energy Commission of India to do an honest job or not is entirely up to you. I don't want to discuss that. I'm just stating the fact as per TOI quote of MKN - to wit a peer review was conducted recently.


No actually the selling job belongs to the economist commerce types, I am a simple engineer who makes things for a living, when it works I eat when it does not I go hungry. Thats my perspective.

Meanwhile yes the AEC committee was as much a peer review as the most stellar part of that illustrious report, "KS does not anything" is accurate.

I rest my case.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby amit » 21 Sep 2009 17:27

Sanku wrote:No actually the selling job belongs to the economist commerce types, I am a simple engineer who makes things for a living, when it works I eat when it does not I go hungry. Thats my perspective.

Meanwhile yes the AEC committee was as much a peer review as the most stellar part of that illustrious report, "KS does not anything" is accurate.

I rest my case.


Remember your are the one who had a building with white marble to sell?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Philip » 21 Sep 2009 17:45

Sridhar,you are spot on,KS and Co. have let the proverbial cat out of the bag,that our TN test was a fizzle.There would be no need whatsoever for this hilarious article-about the quantum of destruction being immaterial from either an A-bomb or H-bomb.This is akin to qualifying and quantifying rape,whether there was "penetration" or not,it matters little how "deep" the penetration! Their stance is that if even if the tip of a penis however little it might be (probably after taking a good look at their "instruments"), enters into the vagina one teeny-weeny bit,it qualifies as penetration and is therefore "Rape"!
Thus they arrrive at their conclusions based upon the penis penetration "dipstick",pun intended! So these great strategic thinkers have come to the conclusion that even if you drop a pea-pod with some N-material it is a nculear attack!

Our reputed friends KS and Co. have by this perverse ***** logic forgotten that several nuclear states including China have very deep underground nuclear command centres and other facilties immune to "normal" nuclear attack and that only large TN devices can eliminate them.This gives them the confidence that they can ride out an attack from an inferior N-power with their key bases immune from attack.I give here some US stats regarding "bunker-busting" TN weapons.

While penetrations of 20–100 feet (30 m) were sufficient for some shallow targets, both the Soviet Union and the United States were creating bunkers buried under huge volumes of soil or reinforced concrete in order to withstand the multi-megaton thermonuclear weapons developed in the 1950s and 1960s. Bunker penetration weapons were initially designed out of this Cold War context.


The main criticisms of nuclear bunker busters regard nuclear fallout and nuclear proliferation. The purpose of an earth-penetrating nuclear "bunker buster" is to reduce the required yield needed to ensure the destruction of the target by coupling the explosion to the ground, yielding a shock wave similar to an earthquake. For example, the United States retired the B-53 warhead, with a yield of 9 megatons, because the B-61 Mod 11 could attack similar targets with much lower yield (400 kilotons)
[citation needed], due to the latter's superior ground penetration. Thus the fallout of a B-61 Mod 11 would likely be less than that of a B-53. Supporters note that this is one of the reasons nuclear bunker busters should be developed. Critics claim that developing new nuclear weapons sends a proliferating message to non-nuclear powers, undermining non-proliferation efforts.

Critics also worry that the existence of lower-yield nuclear weapons for relatively limited tactical purposes will lower the threshold for their actual use, thus blurring the sharp line between conventional weapons intended for use and weapons of mass destruction intended only for hypothetical deterrence and increasing the risk of escalation to higher-yield nuclear weapons.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rahul Mehta » 21 Sep 2009 20:56

Rodradev,

A suggestion.


Rudradev wrote: ........

Amroo: Dr. Singh, we would like you to sign the CTBT and put all of your nuclear facilities under safeguards.

MMS: Mumble... er, no. We need, um, uh, a credible minimum deterrent. Because of, um, China, and the...the other place, that have nukes. And might use them. Against us.

Amroo: Hmm, that worries me. Look, we know YOU'RE a fine upstanding prime minister, a responsible peace-loving citizen of the world, and your heart's in the right place. But there are some alarmists in your scientific establishment who want to obstruct the road to nuclear cooperation... they're always coming out with these reports about how the thermonuclear weapon test of 1998 didn't succeed as announced.

MMS: No, no, those people are Hindoo Nationalists! They have no grasp on reality. What nonsense... the 1998 tests were totally successful, we have peer-reviews to prove it! And, umm... even if the peer-reviewers are somehow mistaken... see what our strategists have concluded! Subrahmanyam and Arunachalam are confident that our fission weapons alone would deter any potential adversary.

Amroo: So, Dr. Singh, you feel confident that in spite of what these alarmists have gone to the press with, India possesses a credible nuclear deterrent today?

MMS: Oh yes. Let these scientists say whatever they want. Even if one assumes that we do not have TNs, our deterrence does exist. I thoroughly agree with that.

Amroo: Ok, great! So you have nothing to fear now, and no need to develop your nuclear arsenal any further. Sign the CTBT.

MMS:
Um, er, wait a moment. Having said that, I'll say it for the nth time, I want India to have TNs.

Amroo: What for? Are you flaking out on us, Dr. Singh? You have fission weapons for deterrence... and you're confident that's all the deterrence you need. Even if your peer-review scientists are wrong about the 1998 test being a success, your strategists agree that fission weapons are deterrence enough! So why chase after TNs? What are you, some third-world Strongman?

MMS: But.. but...

Amroo: Come now, doc. You want to be remembered for the 123 agreement don't you? How are we going to make India a superpower if we have to levy economic sanctions against you?
>>>>>> (see below)

MMS: um... but... but... ok, give me the pen.


>>>> At this point add one more line

Amroo : Do you want us to tell the world how we fixed the EVMs to get you a few extra votes?


And pls replace the word MMS by "MMS IMFwala". Because this guy became FinMin by IMF pressure and he owes his entire career to IMF only.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 21 Sep 2009 21:49

amit wrote:
Sanku wrote:No actually the selling job belongs to the economist commerce types, I am a simple engineer who makes things for a living, when it works I eat when it does not I go hungry. Thats my perspective.

Meanwhile yes the AEC committee was as much a peer review as the most stellar part of that illustrious report, "KS does not anything" is accurate.

I rest my case.


Remember your are the one who had a building with white marble to sell?


Yes and I dont even have to be a salesman to do that in this case. :mrgreen:

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Johann » 22 Sep 2009 21:22

Philip wrote:Our reputed friends KS and Co. have by this perverse ***** logic forgotten that several nuclear states including China have very deep underground nuclear command centres and other facilties immune to "normal" nuclear attack and that only large TN devices can eliminate them.This gives them the confidence that they can ride out an attack from an inferior N-power with their key bases immune from attack.I give here some US stats regarding "bunker-busting" TN weapons.


The deterrence requirements for post-Mao China are very different from Maoist China (or North Korea). Back then the ability to wipe out leadership as well as industry in its entirety was what counted.

The PRC is still an authoritarian state, but it is no longer led by a narcissistic supreme leader with total control.

The post-Mao PRC has avoided conventional war for 30 years now, engaging in not much more than occasional skirmishes, chest-thumping and sabre rattling. Deng Xiaoping set economic growth as the highest priority back in 1979, and war is terrible for the economy.

An effective minimum nuclear deterrent is one that if unleashed will derail the CPC's plans for growth. This would threaten not only the foundation of its international status and power, but the CPC's public legitimacy and hold on power.

The ability to destroy Shanghai and Shenzen's ports, and the rail and road infrastructure that feed them, and contaminate those free trade zones with fallout would be easier and more effective than trying to guarantee the elimination of the Central Military Commission.

The source of the PRC's and the CPC's growing power in the world today is trade and industry. That is the centre of gravity, and that is what deterrence must threaten.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 22 Sep 2009 23:49

Johann wrote:
Philip wrote:Our reputed friends KS and Co. have by this perverse ***** logic forgotten that several nuclear states including China have very deep underground nuclear command centres and other facilties immune to "normal" nuclear attack and that only large TN devices can eliminate them.This gives them the confidence that they can ride out an attack from an inferior N-power with their key bases immune from attack.I give here some US stats regarding "bunker-busting" TN weapons.

Deng Xiaoping set economic growth as the highest priority back in 1979, and war is terrible for the economy.

The source of the PRC's and the CPC's growing power in the world today is trade and industry. That is the centre of gravity, and that is what deterrence must threaten.


What is the possibility that the Chinese economy may itself drastically start going downhill. Which leads to a situation where economy may not be such a big concern for China to worry about if they achieve certain important Geo-political goals against India?

After all, ours is a second strike capablity, what if China decides to total India (under some circumstances) in the hope that the badly shaken India with 700 KM Arihants with four 25 KT nukes may not really damage China?

After all it is a country which loves pulling down cities to build bigger shinier ones. Why cant they decide that us cleaning up some of their old cities is good for the reconstruction based economic boom, that too of a economy which was already stagnating?

There is a saying, every happy family is identical but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, similarly the scenario that things will not really get to Nuclear war of the TN proportions are but one, but for that there are many other possible scenario which will need TNs.

After all the world is a fluid place, the only thing which ensures survival is constant overwhelming power, you cant bank on others bailing you out all the while.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby negi » 27 Sep 2009 11:21

Cross posting from Indian Interests thread.

I wish to discuss the subject of 'Minimum Credible Deterrence' and its significance.

With a risk of sounding like an EB (something I take a great pride in :twisted: ), I would say this entire concept of MCD reeks of Nehruvian (read compromise) decision making.I would not wish to indulge into 'naming one's enemies' but I am of the opinion that India should aim for a nuclear deterrent which can address future/hypothetical threats from ANY nation which our MCD policy in its current form is unable to address.

The reason why I harp on above is the fact that what separates or distinguishes the current members of P-5 from rest of the world is their ability to retaliate and hit any part of the globe with nukes ; imo it is this capability which is the reason for the P-5's current stature and not because some 3 or 4 letter treaty says so.

I am of the view that India's ambitions of being recognized as NWS are meaningless and of little use unless she too develops such a capability . UNSC membership and other forms of token consolation prizes will follow once we actually have the clout to wield the N stick.

As of now GOI has done very well to handle the global pressure as far as signing the NPT and the CTBT are concerned however this might not be the case in future , in fact preparing for a worst case scenario will be a prudent thing to do in matters of such significance.It is hence advisable to develop our strategic strike package based on whatever capability we have demonstrated and have claimed to achieve after POK-II.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 27 Sep 2009 13:59

Negi, this thread is not the most suitable for such a discussion.

However, since you have posted this here, I would reply and say that MCD is not something etched in stone. It evolves as new threats develop, as our arsenal grows in terms of quantity, reliability and types of weapons available, as our delivery platforms develop in terms of technology, accuracy, and range. It also evolves as our economy grows. It also evolves as we accumulate more fissile material, and more special material like Beryllium etc. I am pretty sure that since 1974, our Nuclear Doctrine and hence the posture have undergone sea change. For example, we made subtle changes in our Nuclear Doctrine in 2003 when we announced our nuclear force command structure formally. One of these changes is that it now includes non-nuclear-weapon states (who are allied to NWS) as also fair game for our nuclear strikes. This has vastly changed the game for us in terms of potential targetting etc. Similarly, we changed the Doctrine to make it clear that we will strike with nuclear weapons even if only chemical and biological weaapons were used against us. Thus, my point is that while none of the P-5 (apart from China) poses a nuclear or even a conventional military threat to us, our MCD has to be defined in terms of PRC & TSP today. This will also calm the nerves of the others. As we develop Agni-4 & 5 and our Arihants become operational, we will automatically acquire the ability to target others even if a nuclear exchange with them is unlikely at all.

I am sure that when that happens, India will certainly be P-6. That was how it happened with China. The first Dong Feng3 capable of hitting nearby American bases was developed in 1971 when Nixon & Kissinger started their historic rapproachement with the Chinese.

One thing that the GoI seems to have been careful about is that they did not want to make the Cold War mistakes.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby negi » 27 Sep 2009 16:16

SSridhar wrote:Negi, this thread is not the most suitable for such a discussion.

However, since you have posted this here, I would reply and say that MCD is not something etched in stone. It evolves as new threats develop, as our arsenal grows in terms of quantity, reliability and types of weapons available, as our delivery platforms develop in terms of technology, accuracy, and range. It also evolves as our economy grows. It also evolves as we accumulate more fissile material, and more special material like Beryllium etc. I am pretty sure that since 1974, our Nuclear Doctrine and hence the posture have undergone sea change. For example, we made subtle changes in our Nuclear Doctrine in 2003 when we announced our nuclear force command structure formally. One of these changes is that it now includes non-nuclear-weapon states (who are allied to NWS) as also fair game for our nuclear strikes. This has vastly changed the game for us in terms of potential targetting etc. Similarly, we changed the Doctrine to make it clear that we will strike with nuclear weapons even if only chemical and biological weaapons were used against us.


Well Sridhar ji.. I could not identify a more appropriate thread for this topic.

Coming to MCD I was merely trying to point out how it handicaps our case for a NWS state.

India's potential and capabilities are hidden from no one (including the P-5) it makes little sense to portray a meek image in the global fora; specially when Unkil has this weird knack of courting rogue states (PRC,TSP,NoKo and in future IRAN ) and at the same time clubbing India alongside these when it comes to talk about proliferation or even disarmament.

Thus, my point is that while none of the P-5 (apart from China) poses a nuclear or even a conventional military threat to us, our MCD has to be defined in terms of PRC & TSP today. This will also calm the nerves of the others. As we develop Agni-4 & 5 and our Arihants become operational, we will automatically acquire the ability to target others even if a nuclear exchange with them is unlikely at all.

Well.. as I said we needn't name our enemies for the said NWS can easily provide support to one of our adversaries if not threatening us directly, it has happened in the past and there is no reason for anyone to assume that it won't happen in the future. However I agree Agni family and Arihant are a step in the right direction.


I am sure that when that happens, India will certainly be P-6. That was how it happened with China. The first Dong Feng3 capable of hitting nearby American bases was developed in 1971 when Nixon & Kissinger started their historic rapproachement with the Chinese. One thing that the GoI seems to have been careful about is that they did not want to make the Cold War mistakes.

I am afraid this is where I would beg to disagree ; events in the past cannot be used to formulate or explain India's position today . The major point of difference in China's case back in 70's from ours is USSR was a MAJOR blip on US radar during the 70's anything which could be used as a counter balance to soviet threat in Asian region was seen as a valuable opportunity which PRC capitalized on ,in fact even to this day US turns a blind eye to the proliferation cartel being run by the PRC .

The Chinese have come a long way since 1971 riding a wave of N-tests and readily available RU and even US help in the areas of missile technology it has become a formidable player in the global fora.We have to realize that times have changed and India simply does not enjoy the same luxury and that is why MCD in its current form is rendered even more less effective .

All in all while I can appreciate the economic and realpolitik angle for such a doctrine I hope that events indeed turn out to be the way you have put them across.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 29 Sep 2009 16:41

How about merging this thread with the deterrence thread now open in Mil forum? Or at least lock this one with a link to the other one?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Philip » 30 Sep 2009 15:35

The truth is (commenting on Johann's post),that just one nuclear strike will have such a cascading effect upon the nation that has suffered it,that common sense "should prevail".But will it? Unless India has a working TN warhead that can hit and destroy any deep bunker of the PRC/PLA,the inability of India's deterrent to do so will only encourage the enemy (China) to launch a massive pre-emptive strike against India,safe in the knowledge that our rsponse will be far less severe.The Clinton book coming out now,has quotes about an Indo-Pak nuclear exchange,where we "win" because we have 500 million survivors while Pak's population gets wiped out.The Chinese could adopt that same insane viewpoint (we will have more men left than Germany has,therefore we will win) made infamous by Field Sir Douglas Marshal Haig in WW1,architect of the slaughter of the Somme,the war's worst general.

In Churchill’s devastating judgment, Haig “wore down alike the manhood and the guns of the British army almost to destruction.” Keegan is also merciless: “On the Somme, [Haig] had sent the flower of British youth to death or muti­lation; at Passchendaele he had tipped the survivors in the slough of despond.”

Of the final assault that carried the ruined, pointless little village of Passchendaele, British military historian J.F.C. Fuller, wrote, “To persist…in this tactically impossible battle was an inexcusable piece of pigheadness on the part of Haig.”

The country was now, in Churchill’s chilling phrase, “driving to the shambles by stern laws the remaining manhood of the nation. Lads of 18 and 19, elderly men up to 45, the last surviving brother, the only son of his mother (and she a widow), the father, the sole support of the family, the weak, the consumptive, the thrice wounded—all must now prepare themselves for the scythe.”



Nothing has changed since Haig made that statement.The "pigheadedness" of the Pakis and their Chinese Middle Kingdom monkeys remains true to Haig's philosophy.China is rapidly modernising and increasing its forces (7% of GDP for the military every year) so that when the time comes to "do a Haig" China will not be found wanting!

India must keep its radioactive powder dry.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Johann » 05 Oct 2009 05:46

The CPC after 1979 have been first class sabre rattlers - but they have backed down from 'real' war with even non-nuclear foes in every case because they are politically intelligent survivors.

Maximising and maintaining growth is the bottom line - it is well understood by all concerned that is the *number one* thing that keeps the public on the Party's side. That and the fear of political breakdown and chaos.

The CPC and PLA can not waste waves of human soldiers like the Maoist era. Parents dont want to lose their only children, and will not stand loyally by as the state squanders those lives.

Pakistan is a different matter. Like North Korea but unlike the post-Mao China their economic growth has come not from production and trade, but from being a scary problem, and they have lots of hungry young men whom they need to get rid of.

The real issue with the Chinese is never the size of the weapon/force, or whether its nuclear or conventional, new or old.

It is a question of whether they think you have the political will and the intention to retaliate and cause them very expensive and dangerous problems where they are weak.

Its like playing chicken - it doesn't really matter how big or small your car is. Its the look in your eyes that makes all the difference.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 05 Oct 2009 09:43

Johann wrote:The CPC and PLA can not waste waves of human soldiers like the Maoist era.

True.

Pakistan is a different matter. Like North Korea but unlike the post-Mao China their economic growth has come not from production and trade, but from being a scary problem, and they have lots of hungry young men whom they need to get rid of.

True. However, being a 'scary problem' is a strategy that Pakistan uses against others. When it comes to India, Pakistan is not a 'potential' problem, it is 'the problem'. It is irrational in its dealings with India for a host of reasons we all know.

The real issue with the Chinese is never the size of the weapon/force, or whether its nuclear or conventional, new or old.

It is a question of whether they think you have the political will and the intention to retaliate and cause them very expensive and dangerous problems where they are weak.

Its like playing chicken - it doesn't really matter how big or small your car is. Its the look in your eyes that makes all the difference.

However, political will and the 'steely look in the eyes' comes from the knowledge that we too have the weapons to hit the Chinese, not only their cities and industrial clusters, but also their weapon sites, silos. Without a heavy-duty weapon, that is not possible.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby ramana » 05 Oct 2009 10:36

Sanku wrote:How about merging this thread with the deterrence thread now open in Mil forum? Or at least lock this one with a link to the other one?


That would defeat the aim of those who started these threads which is to confuse the issue with red herrings.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Johann » 05 Oct 2009 12:52

For most of the Cold War the PRC was unable to threaten either Soviet or American major population and industrial centres.

Its arsenal was a tiny fraction of the size of that available to the superpowers

The majority of its small nuclear arsenal in this time were also extremely vulnerable to a first strike given its small size and reliance on liquid fuels and pre-surveyed, prepared sites

On top of this it had an official no-first use policy

Yet the PRC was able to deter both superpowers.

For that matter the Soviets who used nuclear threats against Israel in 1956, did not repeat them in 1967 or 1973, despite the weaknesses of the developing Israeli deterrent.

How did India deter a repeat of 1962 for all the years it lacked an operational nuclear deterrent after the Chinese test of 1964?

There's no shortage of examples of asymmetric deterrence - now states usually want to even the odds and make it more symmetric, but the pace and the extent at which that occurs is a politically and materially expensive question.

The Chinese since 1979 have always been careful about when and where they've been pushy. How often, and how hard have they kept it up when others pushed back?

China's minimum acceptable threshold for damage since 1979 is no larger than that of the Soviets was during the Cold War. The speed with which their nuclear forces have been modernised has been slow, perhaps because of cost-benefit issues. How much better does their deterrence need to get given how it performed in the Cold War?

Post-Maoist China has in reality consistently avoided serious, prolonged direct confrontation. They are afraid of what it will cost them. Instead they have relied on client failed states, and undermining the will of opponents through a variety of political strategies.

Any state that fears escalation when faced with Chinese threats because its worried about the correlation of forces has already lost the political battle.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Luit » 05 Oct 2009 17:20

Reading the last few posts by Johann Sir, I infer that status quo is what the USA needs. India’s present deterrence or the lack of it does not affect the security dynamic of the USA. However, in the event of a nuclear exchange between India and the PRC – it degrades the international status and power of the PRC to acceptable levels. The problem is that the quantity/quality of India’s present deterrence is desirable for Americans (unfortunate that Indians are being systematically brainwashed to accept this as ‘in their best interests’) but suicidal for Indians.

Just as I was typing the above, another thought came to my mind. Thinking of suicide – I think 2nd class status is a better option. I am thinking if we seriously need to explore the possibility of comprehensively eliminating whatever is left of the Indian ‘MCD’ and shamelessly approach Mr. Hussein for an umbrella, nuclear one onlee, in lieu of CRE of the military program. Edited

In this context, I would like to ask Johann Sir - hypothetically speaking, if India agrees to CRE, will the Americans consider giving us an umbrella?

Warm Regards,

Luit.
Last edited by RayC on 05 Oct 2009 19:17, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Please do desist from being crass!

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 05 Oct 2009 19:01

Johann wrote:For most of the Cold War the PRC was unable to threaten either Soviet or American major population and industrial centres.

Its arsenal was a tiny fraction of the size of that available to the superpowers

The majority of its small nuclear arsenal in this time were also extremely vulnerable to a first strike given its small size and reliance on liquid fuels and pre-surveyed, prepared sites

Johann, we have to look at this from two different perspectives. For China vis-a-vis US, the continuing good relationship of the USSR with China at least until early 1960s was a major deterrence for the US. By circa 1964, China had exploded a nuke. Eventhough the USSR-China relationship began to be frosty from early 60s, it was only to be expected that the USSR would still not have kept quiet had the US attacked China with nukes. Anyway, in early 60s, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the consequent Missile Crisis taught the US a big lesson and they could not have contemplated any attack on China at all. The Ussuri river clash between USSR and PRC in c. 1969, emboldened both China and the US to re-appraise their mutual relationships and as a result of which the thaw happened when Kissinger secretly visited PRC. So, there was no question of any fear for PRC from the US. In essence, the fear for China existed for a short while perhaps after Mao drove Chiang Kai Shek to Taiwan.

As for the China-USSR relationship, that was not threatening until mid-60s. It was the Ussuri clash in early c. 1969 that really threatened to escalate. However, by end-1969, the two appeared to have reached some understanding and the threat receded. There was again, a small window like in the case of the US, when PRC was vulnerable to a nuke attack from the USSR. PRC decided to enhance its security by normalizing its relationship with the US soon thereafter with the help of Pakistan.

So, though PRC's arsenal was a tiny fraction of the US or the USSR, and though it had only liquid-fuelled engines for its missiles which were incapable of long distances or accuracy etc., there was no major threat it faced for a sustained period. It was either the US or the USSR it faced at any one time. It did not face continuous and high-pressure jihadi terrorist attacks from a proxy of either of these superpowers. The pressure on PRC eased considerably after it was accorded status as a NWS (in 1968), and in c. 1971 it completely evaporated after US-PRC relation thawed and technology transfers began to take place soon between them and PRC was accepted not only into the UN but even the UNSC.

On top of this it had an official no-first use policy

Yet the PRC was able to deter both superpowers.

All NWS states start with a countervalue and a NFU posture because that is all the luxury that their nuclear weapons and missiles would allow them to be. The NFU declaratory policy is always a ruse by a weaker nuke power to calm the nerves of stronger ones.

For that matter the Soviets who used nuclear threats against Israel in 1956, did not repeat them in 1967 or 1973, despite the weaknesses of the developing Israeli deterrent.

Israel's case was very different. It had the complete support of the US and the UK.

How did India deter a repeat of 1962 for all the years it lacked an operational nuclear deterrent after the Chinese test of 1964?

PRC was fighting for prestige, power and acceptance among the comity of nations during the period after 1962. It could not do something foolish like attacking a NNWS like India and cause millions of deaths, especially after its NFU for whatever it was worth. Besides, the rift in China-USSR relationship and the extraordinary warmth in India-USSR relationship precluded such a blatant use of nukes by PRC. The credit should not go to India for the deterrence it achieved, except perhaps to the extent of cultivating and maintaining a close relationship with the USSR.

There's no shortage of examples of asymmetric deterrence - now states usually want to even the odds and make it more symmetric, but the pace and the extent at which that occurs is a politically and materially expensive question.

True. Politically, I doubt if the present dispensation wants to go any further than May, 1998. Its priorities and approaches are different. As for being 'materially expensive', the usual and well-worn out 'advice' to India not to go any forward and freeze as-it-is is because a 'poor country' like India can ill-afford such expenses. I am sure India has never listened to such an argument due to sound reasons.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Johann » 06 Oct 2009 00:49

SS,

+ As far as symmetric vs. asymmetric deterrence, and the differences in cost, I was not referring specifically to India.

However, from everything that has been put out about the 'minimum credible deterrent', the choice early on seems to have been to define the MCD as one that would offer Pakistan 'assured destruction', while simultaneously challenging China with asymmetric deterrence.

The maximalist position on the other hand is that unless India is able to inflict as much damage (in relative) on China as it able to on Pakistan, it can not deter China. In other words asymmetric deterrence will not work on it.

Can asymmetric deterrence work against the post-Mao PRC?

All I'm saying is that the PRC's historical record in the last 30 years is of a devious, dangerous, persistant, but *extremely* cautious state. Asymmetric deterrence, when backed by consistent political will works against it.

Building national consensus about standing up to China, and building relationships that frighten them will deter the Chinese far more than even a Soviet sized arsenal.

+ The Soviet-Chinese relationship turned openly hostile in 1963 over the PTBT; this is because both Khrushchev and the Kennedy (later Johnson administrations) could now agree they didnt want to see China with the bomb.

The Soviets began to redeploy troops to face the PRC in 1966, stationing them in Mongolia and the Far East.

The Johnson administration's decision to bomb North Vietnam destroyed the possibility of Soviet cooperation with the US on attacking Lop Nor, something the US was actively planning for. However the Brezhnev government put out active feelers to the US about this option in 1969.

The Mitrokhin archive shows the extent to which the KGB were actively supporting Muslim separatists in Xinjiang at this time, while the CIA and IB supported Tibetan rebellion. In the east the RoC threat from Taiwan remained, and from within Mao faced deep enmity from those in the party he had purged, and who might seek Soviet or even American support.

Mao *actively* anticipated a joint US-Soviet attack (hence the construction of the massive 'Third Line') with good reason; that was what led to his decision to end the cultural revolution and court the Americans in 1969. Nixon took up that offer, but China still needed to deter the Soviets, and tensions continued to build until 1984.

+ Israel had no nuclear guarantees from any state in 1967 (1973 was a different matter). Yet the Soviet leadership despite being virulently anti-Israeli exercised caution in its nuclear rhetoric (unlike 1956 when it used nuclear threats) in part because it was clear that the Israelis had some sort of nuclear capability, and the leadership exhibited a clear sense of purpose backed by national consensus.

In fact it is interesting that Khrushchev used nuclear threats in 1956 at all, given that the UK had an operational nuclear deterrent, and with its new V-series bombers, the means to strike Moscow, while the Russians had a very small number of missiles capable of reaching the UK. What emboldened Khrushchev was the political divisions, with the PM, Eden having committed to war against Egypt against the advice of his cabinet and senior civil service, and the Americans uncommitted. In the end as in most nuclear calculations, the political trumped technical and military factors.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 06 Oct 2009 18:43

Johann, deterrence is a combination of several things, not the least of which is the arsenal itself. Of course, the determination to use it if the need arises is another factor. IMO, more than the determination of a nation, whether the adversary perceives it as having that steely determination to exercise the nuclear option is important. That perception comes from past actions and reactions to situations shown by the nation as well as how the nation has progressed since then. In the case of India, we have not shown sufficient determination in dealing with Pakistan in spite of grave attacks and provocations. The Indian approach has been always softer thereby leading India to sustain greater damage than what was necessary and also somewhat blunting its prestige. Again, with China, the Indian bluster of the late 50s and early 60s was not backed up with military preparedness. These factors enter into the deterrence calculations of an adversary.

A bolt-out-of-the-blue kind of attack can be reasonably ruled out for rational nuclear powers. In a situation where step-by-step escalation of hostilities between two NWSs takes place, there are sufficient opportunities to defuse the tension. Except during the Korean War, the Sino-US rivalry never threatened to lead to a nuclear exchange. The Sino-Soviet threat was also short-lived and there were many milestones to be crossed for a conventional threat (which no doubt existed for a long time between China and USSR) to escalate into a nuclear war and I do not think it ever reached even half-way stage. Most definitely post-Mao PRC is not willing to take the same punishment as the pre-Mao PRC. The world will also be affected by such a punishment to PRC because of China's manufacturing industries. So, one can expect interventions from other interested parties to prevent an escalation. That is certainly another component of deterrence that will work in India's favour. However, as I said elsewhere, deterrence is a peace-time activity indulged in by analysts and planners. When it reaches the break-point, the reactions can be wildly off the mark. Nobody knows. That's why a country needs to be prepared, however much deterrence analysis may predict zero possibility of a nuclear attack under existing conditions. Countries might need to err on the safer side.

However, the usefulness of being a far bigger power in an asymmetric equation comes from the ability to coerce the less strong nation under nuclear blackmail. Even if a country may not resort to nuclear blackmail per se, it helps the leaders of the nation enormously when they know that their retort to such a blackmail is backed up by their arsenal. IMHO, no country can say that it deters another; it is how the 'deterred' country feels about the opponent's deterrence that matters. For rational countries, this can be gauged to a certain extent by how they conduct their business with the other. Reckless countries may never truly be deterred and post-Mao China doesn't certainly belong to that category.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Johann » 07 Oct 2009 02:02

S Sridhar,

+ Just how asymmetric can asymmetric nuclear deterrence be? Can a large nuclear power stare down a small nuclear power using their nuclear strength? Is there really any such thing as a 'small' nuclear power?

We have had over a dozen nuclear crises, or nuclear tinged crises after 1945, and no usage because most leaders dont want to gamble wrong. No political leader since then has been convinced so far that there is such a thing as a winnable nuclear war.

North Korea, with its weak nuclear capability does in fact deter the US, and has done so through serious crises.

The Soviet Union deterred the US from *very* seriously considered nuclear weapon employment even though its nuclear deterrent was tiny, and its delivery capacity limited compared to the US.

For that matter Pakistan has not dared start a war like either 1965 or 1971 with India since Pokhran '74. The most its been willing to do is grab uninhabited bits covertly when India isnt looking - Siachen, and then Kargil.

Even in the 1980s when Zia was aggressive and India had very small nuclear weapons store, limited means for aircraft delivery, and no ballistic missile delivery. Pakistan felt bold enough to posture during the Brass Tacks crisis, but not enough to strike.

I dont think the Soviet factor explains things; US guarantees to Pakistan in the 1980s were far stronger than Soviet relationship with India. Even in 1971, while Soviet diplomatic pressure helped India, it also discouraged Indira Gandhi from escalating the war with W.Pakistan.

My point is not that political will does not prevent crises turning in to nuclear war. Political will when coupled with clear sight decides on *whose terms* a crisis will be defused.

- Re. Sino-Soviet confrontation;

The Soviet Union and Vietnam signed a mutual defence treaty in November 1978. China invaded Vietnam four months later. This was at a time when Soviet forces (including nuclear forces) in the Far East were at an all time high, when only three years earlier Brezhnev and Defence Minister Ustinov had declared the PRC 'the main enemy'. The only analogy would be if the Soviets had invaded Taiwan or Japan. The Chinese had chosen their moment well - the Soviets were already reeling from the global (not just Western) reaction to the invasion of Afghanistan, but nevertheless, they were prepared for the possibility that the Soviets would honour their treaty obligations and defend their ally Vietnam by attacking China, with attendant nuclear escalation.

The 1983 crisis between the US and USSR, which was taken very seriously by the Soviet leadership who feared a nuclear bolt from the blue from Reagan also created a crisis on the side between the PRC and USSR.


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