Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby SSridhar » 17 Sep 2009 19:57

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


How did you conclude that the voice-vote in the NSA meeting in Dec. (?) 1998 arrive at a 'failure' ? The Santhanam Op-Ed simply says there was a voice vote and then the NSA stood by RC's assessment.

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.


That's what I believe happened too.

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.

The bluff might very well have come from BARC, we are nowhere nearer the truth because we lack data and most of us the ability to decide one way or the other even if we have data. However, in this context, the buck stops with the political leadership which embarked on a certain trajectory. They had to persist with the bluff even if it emanated from BARC because they had not really thought through various possibilities and/or they foreclosed all their options by their talk of moratorium and converting that into an obligation even before end of May. It is not responsible leadership when it only basks in the glow and points accusing fingers, even if it were true, at others for failures. The failures from the scientific establishment were expected (not lying though) and in a matter as crucial as this, the GoI must have been clear about the alternatives. When there was divergence, the NSA should simply have erred on the conservative side and declared that the result must be considered as a failure. We should not have said anything about our intentions until at least the test team came to a conclusion. After all, nuclear weapon design tests are repeatedly done to prove and refine the design and we had not even planned with sufficient thought for this one-off TN test ?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 20:33

Acharya wrote:
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


I think folks went by J18 and trust. That was the undoing.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Kanson » 17 Sep 2009 20:34

BM interview during N-deal

Right now, what is your stand on the nuclear deal?

As I said two months ago, my main concern has been India's strategic nuclear programme. It came out in the open in 1998 and we pursued it.

The Congress, which was in the Opposition at that time, was not very enthusiastic about India's strategic programme. In fact, in 1998, they criticised the nuclear tests. Obviously, there was suspicion in my mind whether this government is pursuing the strategic programme that we had worked out.

The deal, as it was announced in July 2005, talked about a moratorium on Indian testing (nuclear capability) in a bilateral document between India and the US. Later, in the US Congress there was a discussion about a moratorium on fissile material production.

In March 2006, when President Bush came to India, a separation plan of India's civil and strategic facilities was announced. And, under the plan, 14 out of 21 nuclear reactors were put under safeguards. So, obviously there was suspicion that enough importance was not being given to the strategic programme.

I am not speaking on behalf of the BJP. Personally, I believe that 8% to 9% growth of the economy is very good for us, but if we do not have the bomb, it (the growth of the economy) is not enough. If you want to play a major role in world affairs, that is the key.

I raised this problem two months ago. A number of people from the government have spoken to me and they said to me that, 'We have been and are pursuing the strategic programme' for which the foundation was laid by the National Democratic Alliance. In the light of my concern for the strategic programme being taken into account I said it is okay; let this nuclear deal go through. It is fine if it goes through.

But I am not one of those who think that if the deal does not go through then Indo-US relations will be affected. No, that is not correct. We must never tag Indo-US relations to one item or with a single issue.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby RamaY » 17 Sep 2009 20:37

samuel wrote:What disservice to the nation.
-- negotiate a nuclear deal without a credible deterrent. MMS is directly responsible.
S

That could be the difference between NDA and UPA govts. NDA knew there was no CMD and did not pursue the deal. UPA knew there was no CMD but capitulated to the deal (remeber MMS' histrionics during the deal negotiations?)

NDA, the entire leadership without exceptions, must take the entire blame for bluffing the nation. If they were honest about the fizzile, even if they did not continue with further tests, could have avoided nuke-deal saga. So NDA not only bluffed the nation but paved the way for further bluffing by the same political leadership that it tried to replace. Shame on ABV-ji and BJP leadership.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 17 Sep 2009 20:57

The whole point of a nuclear deterrent is to prevent a nuclear (and not conventional) war. Given that there is no visible mushroom cloud over the Indian landmass, I would say India's nuclear deterrence has worked and is working at present.

While I'm still sitting on the fence with regard to the whole Pokhran II yield issue (though N^3 sir's argument with regard to the damage to the village is pretty much glaring), I cannot deny that Indian nuclear deterrence (or bluff) is working.

Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff: yes, it can. Case in point, the PRC during the Sino-Soviet split.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 17 Sep 2009 21:22

self deleted - OT for this thread.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Gagan » 17 Sep 2009 22:45

brihaspati wrote: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.

Because, a nuclear blast originates at less than a kilometer depth from the earth's surface, while an earthquake originates > 25 Km depth. The frequecny of the wave pattern is completely different.

An earthquake can be quickly distinguished from a kiloton nuclear test.

It is subkiloton tests which can be disguised, and it is possible to test a weapon in parts. But the proof of the pudding lies only in testing the weaponized design to full yield, several times, by the end user (thereby testing for fool-proofness), each time in differing environmental conditions, and accounting for the fact that the warhead has aged or has been undergone servicing (Change of the Tritium cannister / LiD fuel).

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Gagan » 17 Sep 2009 22:47

Merely possessing a loaded gun does not convince, But having a silencer attached to the loaded gun conveys a defenite intent to use. This is from Alistair Mclean's 'fear is the key'.

India has a gun, at this point we are not even sure if its loaded with a blank or a live one.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 23:21

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:The whole point of a nuclear deterrent is to prevent a nuclear (and not conventional) war. Given that there is no visible mushroom cloud over the Indian landmass, I would say India's nuclear deterrence has worked and is working at present.


Indeed, and in fact Indian deterrence is still quite inefficient, I can name 130 countries right now, which have a completely proven deterrence as shown by absence of nuclear cloud over them, and they have done it without having a ton of nuclear material, we still are mucking about with those horrid devices.

I am certain that is as glaring obvious statement about our deterrence working as the argument to Khetolai was -- its funny how BRFites still fail to see such glaringly obvious proofs.

Funny us.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby ramana » 17 Sep 2009 23:39

Sanku, Somewhere you posted about the Mahabharata war and how it was the fanatical element that broke the non-use agreement. Please post here. There is one more lesson to be learnt from that.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Prem » 17 Sep 2009 23:42

Acharya Sir

Looks like many bluffs have been called > UPA,Uncle,Chinkl and various domestic and foreign players have been checkmated. The G2 statement got the ball rolling and it wont stop tillnew equilibrium is achieved at international strategic level, hence the rush in UN etc by supposed Godfather2. We dont yet know about Japanesee and SKorean moves.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 17 Sep 2009 23:48

ramana wrote:Sanku, Somewhere you posted about the Mahabharata war and how it was the fanatical element that broke the non-use agreement. Please post here. There is one more lesson to be learnt from that.


X-posting from the IA thread...

RayC wrote:Grand wars like the WWII will not be fought as there are nuclear weapons. At best, there will be conflicts close to the borders.


I would strongly disagree with the above, a case in the point is the Mahabharata war, despite the presence of Divya-astra's on both sides, a pact was reached to not use the same since that would have finished the earth for which the war was being fought, and thus destroyed the reason for war itself.

The biggest war in the history of mankind was then fought with conventional arms, and only when the war was at a close and one side completely defeated, did the fanatic and then irrational remnants of the one army side use the Celestial weapons.

Tactical nukes were also used in that war.

We should not forget our own history.
Last edited by Sanku on 18 Sep 2009 00:36, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Prem » 18 Sep 2009 00:05

I dont mean to blow my bigule again but it seems wisdom of having 2k nukes is now dawning on grounded Bharti elites.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby ramana » 18 Sep 2009 00:07

And when Arjuna wanted to retaliate on the fanatic the devaloka 'community' forced him not to do so in interests of jan samudhayi! Same way history repeats even now if TSP lets of a nuke on India.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 18 Sep 2009 00:11

Sanku wrote:Indeed, and in fact Indian deterrence is still quite inefficient, I can name 130 countries right now, which have a completely proven deterrence as shown by absence of nuclear cloud over them, and they have done it without having a ton of nuclear material, we still are mucking about with those horrid devices.


How many of these are facing nuclear threats?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 18 Sep 2009 00:35

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:
Sanku wrote:Indeed, and in fact Indian deterrence is still quite inefficient, I can name 130 countries right now, which have a completely proven deterrence as shown by absence of nuclear cloud over them, and they have done it without having a ton of nuclear material, we still are mucking about with those horrid devices.


How many of these are facing nuclear threats?


All? See either they are friendly to US or not, if not then they are game of US, if yes then they are Game for China. If neutral then game for both.

Iran has no cloud over it, neither has Venezuela. Nor Cuba, neither Egypt, nor Syria (and Israel is supposed to have bum in the basement too). Long list...

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 18 Sep 2009 00:56

Sanku wrote:All? See either they are friendly to US or not, if not then they are game of US, if yes then they are Game for China. If neutral then game for both.

Iran has no cloud over it, neither has Venezuela. Nor Cuba, neither Egypt, nor Syria (and Israel is supposed to have bum in the basement too). Long list...


Just because a country has nukes does not mean that it is willing to use those nukes on any other country in the world. Today, only two countries have enough nukes to threaten multiple countries with nukes---America and Russia. China is not even close---France is third in my opinion. Which again raises the question---which country fears French nukes or is actually threatened by them?

Further, would America need nukes to deal with Venezuela or Cuba or Iran or Syria for that matter? Would China need nukes to take pot shots at Vietnam or any of the South East Asian states? What did Georgia feared more---Russian nukes or the 58th Army? Iran is threatened of conventional American might, not its nukes.

Israeli nukes (or their myth) are again meant to deter---prevent nuclear war. If Israel has to use its nukes (if it has any), it has already lost the war---its deterrence has failed.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 18 Sep 2009 01:08

If Israel has to use its nukes (if it has any), it has already lost the war---its deterrence has failed.


Oh we can make any such convoluted arguments in case of India also, in fact nothing suggests that we would have been nuked till now if we did not have nukes.

Or are you saying that? That we certainly would have been nuked if we didnt have the fission bombs?

Would Israel be attacked for sure without nukes?

Would some one nuke us for sure without nukes?

And if they dont happen that means we dont need nukes?

-------------------------------------

This entire chain of reasoning is like "I am 24 year old, I have never worn a helmet on a motor bike, my brain is still inside my head -- ergo all the helmets were not necessary for me and no helmet policy turned out well"

It works well, till it doesnt.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby ramana » 18 Sep 2009 01:10

X-posted....


dipak wrote:Why Santhanam's Pokhran revelations are too late - B Raman

B Raman does not appear very convincing in his arguments.
But he confirms that Santhanam is not a loose-canon.



That being so, why did he keep quiet for so long? He has been quoted in some sections of the media as saying that he decided to go public now after 11 years because he apprehended a US attempt to force India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. His hint is that India needed to carry out more tests to master the fusion weapon. He should be knowing that after India signed the civil nuclear co-operation agreement with the US and subsequently agreed to the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency of Vienna [ Images ], the question of its carrying out any more tests just does not arise in view of the commitments, which it has already made not to carry out any more tests.

One would have appreciated his action if he had made this disclosure before India signed the agreement with the US. He did not do so. He refrained from joining the other critics of the Indian agreement with the US and the subsequent developments. He thereby gave the impression that he had nothing against the agreement with the US.



The bolded part is not correct. The IUCNA which is a bilateral agreement ceases in the event of an Indian nuke test. As Sri MMS had said in Lok Sabha, India reserves the right to test as the situation warrants. And India decides what warrants the situation. Further the 123 deal also gives the US President right to determine what the situation is with out automatic sanctions. So its not a cut and dry agreement. In some circumustances India could test and the US had the right to impose sanctions.

CTBT is not like that. It is an international agreement where India foreswears the right to test for ever. India is not one of the NPT NWS/P-5 which have that right.

Hence Santhanam was right in being supportive of the IUCNA for it was step in getting rid of NSG restrictions to ease the civlian power agreement.

There is a difference between the nuke deal and signing CTBT.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Masaru » 18 Sep 2009 02:29

From ToI

Damaging fallout: 'Dud' Pokhran II blows up 11 years later

Three former nuclear leaders -- M R Srinivasan, P K Iyengar and A N Prasad -- said in the wake of revelations by K Santhanam, project leader for Pokhran II, the government must order a peer review into the yield of the thermonuclear test of May 1998.


Prasad said: ``If all that Santhanam has written is true, then people occupying high places have misled the country. If all the data about the thermonuclear test has been held by one man (Chidambaram), then how can it be scientifically contested or debated? He has kept it under wraps.'' ... ``If this committee concludes that the thermonuclear test had completely failed then the government has played a major fraud on the people of this country,'


At least the fraud is finally out. In the academic world willful falsification and misrepresentation of data results in life time obscurity with no prospect of gainful employment in academia. One wonders what (if any) will be the repercussions on the actors who perpetrated this fraud which is putting the future of an civilization at risk.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Johann » 18 Sep 2009 02:43

Vishal,

What you have said about nuclear weapons, deterrence and conventional conflicts is not quite right. In many, if not most cases nuclear weapons were meant to offset conventional military disadvantages.

Israel acquired nuclear capabilities most of all to prevent itself from being overwhelmed and overrun by conventional forces. There was a moment in 1973 when they thought they might have to use them tactically (ie against enemy military forces in the field).

It was the same for NATO's (including France's) Cold War nuclear doctrine - tactical weapons were intended to offset the massive Soviet/Warsaw Pact numerical advantage. This ended with the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Eastern Europe and the CFE Treaty.

The Pakistanis believe their nuclear weapons deter India from using its conventional advantage to attempt another 1971 or worse on it.

Mao counted on nuclear weapons as part of the mix to deter and defeat both US backed RoC/Taiwanese invasion and march on Beijing as well as a Czechoslovakian-style Soviet invasion to enforce CPC leadership change.

Russia since the 1990s has depended on nuclear weapons to prevent invasion by NATO, China, etc because of the severe decline of its conventional forces.

The Kim Family mafia in North Korea depends on nuclear weapons to deter invasion and regime change by the US/RoK/Japan, and anyone else, including the PRC and Russia.

In all of these cases, while wars have broken out since nuclear weapons have been introduced (apart from NATO-WP), no one has dared to allow it to go beyond a border skirmish or unconventional warfare. No one is going for the 'jaguar vein'.

Did the Indian state count on nuclear weapons to deter conventional invasions? Would the GoI use nuclear weapons if it looked like it was about to lose Tawang or Arunachal Pradesh to a PLA advance? Perhaps, if the leadership thought the Indian Republic's very survival was imminently threatened. However, as far as anyone can see the IA/IAF counts on conventional capabilities to stop the Chinese in their tracks. That is after all how they've done it since 1962 and before the tests of 1974 and 1998.

Nuclear capability has enhanced India's status as a major up and coming economic power with a very large conventional forces, but its military situation has not been fundamentally changed by Shakti. That does not mean the same is true of all other nuclear powers at all other times. Besides the historical cases Israel, Russia, Pakistan, North Korea, and some of NATO's eastern most states still count on nuclear weapons to deter invasion, state collapse and regime change or erasure.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rishirishi » 18 Sep 2009 03:51

Why has this issue popped up now??

Is it about personal Egos in BARC or has this something more to it.

Can it be that the scientists want to test a TN device now?, or do they have another agenda.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 06:42

Prem wrote:I dont mean to blow my bigule again but it seems wisdom of having 2k nukes is now dawning on grounded Bharti elites.


But there is not enough fissile material for that unless you can perfect thermonuclear bums.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 06:46

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:Just because a country has nukes does not mean that it is willing to use those nukes on any other country in the world.


Interestingly the US (which wanted to use nukes against Korea) has not used nukes anywhere and has opted to lose wars rather than use nukes. There is a message here.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby John Snow » 18 Sep 2009 06:50

Losing war in a third world country is entirely different from losing mainland territory, let some one try that to see what US can do....

MMS in starving AEC and BARC is the right course and importing the reactors lock stock barrel and also scraping DRDO is the best thing to do, import Barak, import small arms import pine, import MRCA. That way costs are fixed including commissions, where as trying make them in India is full of fixed costs and never sure of delivery or performance. T-90 in hand is worth two Arjuns in DRDO sheds any day.
MMS is a visionary only I was blind not see his ways.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rahul Mehta » 18 Sep 2009 07:07

anishns wrote: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:


We strengthen our Military and strength to engineer covert operations. And then we use them to get Uranium from African countries. And yes, we citizens do need change regime for all this.

1. 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"

2. 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.

3. 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. ....


1. If we have enough nukes to torch US, UK, China, Saud and Pak, then no one will nuke us. In which case, they will be just show pieces, but at least they protected us.

2. We should NEVER depend on Russia

3. People are fine. Over 99% people I speak to support strong Military and becoming at par with China, US in nuke strength. There is NO need to change people --- we should focus only on changes necessary in GoI to make India a nuclear super power.

3.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby samuel » 18 Sep 2009 07:46

We got a ~15KT fission-sizz that can be scaled up 5 times ~75-80KT, based on existing wisdom I read somewhere, can't remember. So, if we want to deliver ~300KT, we need to test ~60-70KT device and if we want a 1MT capacity that means 200KT test. And all this must be an a deliverable package, so that's gotta be TN. So testing at 0.5KT 1KT 5KT 25KT 125KT 500KT in fiss and TN varieties make most sense to me and should allow for calibrating model (simulation) performance over scales. I would suggest two tests per set point -- one by developer, and one by user. So that's 24 tests. There's no hurry. Please don't drop everything and test now, pay attention to north arunachal right away, but perhaps in the not so distant term, we can do all this. But, that small matter about unilateral moratorium 123 and all that, what happens to all that?

S

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 09:21

John Snow wrote:Losing war in a third world country is entirely different from losing mainland territory, let some one try that to see what US can do....


But we are a responsible. mature nation. We will lose territory if necessary and teach the US a moral lesson. We will_not_use_nukes. We will_not_let vested interests disrupt our electricity supply.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 09:23

samuel wrote:We got a ~15KT fission-sizz that can be scaled up 5 times ~75-80KT, based on existing wisdom I read somewhere, can't remember. So, if we want to deliver ~300KT, we need to test ~60-70KT device and if we want a 1MT capacity that means 200KT test. And all this must be an a deliverable package, so that's gotta be TN. So testing at 0.5KT 1KT 5KT 25KT 125KT 500KT in fiss and TN varieties make most sense to me and should allow for calibrating model (simulation) performance over scales. I would suggest two tests per set point -- one by developer, and one by user. So that's 24 tests. There's no hurry. Please don't drop everything and test now, pay attention to north arunachal right away, but perhaps in the not so distant term, we can do all this. But, that small matter about unilateral moratorium 123 and all that, what happens to all that?

S



Samuel - sorry about the thread proliferation but this needs to go in the fizzle thread in the mil forum.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 10:00

I sometimes feel that deterrence is working in the world (so far) not because of "peer to peer" deterrence (i.e I am afraid of your nukes and you are afraid of mine) but deterrence has worked because of "What will my peer think if I use nukes" i.e Log kya kahenge" deterrence.

I have tried to explain this earlier and will try again.

Everyone knows nukes are very destructive, and while we may be tempted to nuke someone or the other, nobody really wants to be nuked.

So here I am with my nukes feeling that I am scaring you with them, and in turn I am scared (or maybe not scared) of your nukes or fizzles. But you are not the only one in the neighborhood. There are a few others too with proven working nukes and i don;t want them to nuke me either.

Now suppose I get into a war with you and decide that your stupid fizzles don't scare me, I could decide to nuke you and finish you off. But the problem is that all those guys around with proven nukes have so far imagined that I am scared of their nukes. Now when they see that I am not scared of nukes and I am willing to nuke you, they will understand that I may be insane enough to nuke them too.

That will make them more willing to nuke me - because they will be scared of the fact that I am a nuke user - rather than a person who fears nukes. I am such a danger to them that I will have to be nukes early and first - because I have proved my willingness to use nukes.

The point I am trying to make is that if China nukes India or India nukes China - it signals not just the breakdown of India-China deterrence - but it also signals the breakdown of global deterrence. Any nuclear war between any two parties indicates that both those parties are willing to use nukes. If any party survives with nukes after such a war - it will be seen as a "dangerous party" that will use nukes and will have to be punished and even nuked early on in any future war. That would be a real breakdown of deterrence.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Rudradev » 18 Sep 2009 11:04

Shiv,

All...I mean *ALL* deterrence is based on a bluff. Once (if ever) the bluff is called, "deterrence" has failed and the calculus has moved on to other things. If I say I have nukes and will use them if you attack me, but then you attack me anyway... you have called my bluff, what I was seeking to "deter" has not been deterred... so regardless of what action I actually take in response to your attack, deterrence has failed. QED.

Since all deterrence is based on a bluff, its quality has much to do with the credibility of the bluffer. There is one instance in history I can think of, where "deterrence" was undermined and in fact turned against the one who sought to use it, because he was a terribly poor bluffer and overplayed his hand many times over. I speak of the late Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

Saddam was very funny. He was one of the first Arab leaders to try to acquire WMDs in a very open fashion, getting the French to build a great big nuclear facility in the desert where it presented a clear target for Israeli bombers. He actually used chemical weapons against Kurdish separatists and against Iran, demonstrating his willingness to deploy his "deterrent" at very low thresholds of provocation. He got into a fight with the Americans over Kuwait, bluffed his way into the first Gulf War, and then tried to "deter" the US by deploying chemical warheads based on Scud missiles against Israel (ineffectually, as it turned out).

Over the next decade, systematic and deliberate sanctions applied by the Anglo-American axis caused a half million Iraqi children to die from starvation and lack of medicine. The Americans knew, the British knew, the Israelis knew, the UN knew... everybody knew by the end of that decade that Iraq was incapable of manufacturing any kind of deterrent, and that its military-industrial complex had been completely crippled for a long time. And yet Saddam continued to bluff... kicking out inspectors, maintaining a (by then laughable) ambiguity about what deterrents Iraq may or may not possess, making veiled threats about the use of nonexistent WMDs right up to the eve of "Operation Iraqi Freedom".

There are two morals to this story. One, your credibility is all-important to effective bluffing, and since your deterrent is 100% based on your power of effective bluffing, credibility becomes worth its weight in gold. (As an aside, consider what this means for Pakistan's deterrence, given the great credibility TSPA enjoys the world over). Anyway.

Our credibility is injured every time some Karlos Santanam comes out of the woodwork making claims about how nothing worked in 1998 even though we always claimed it did. This is true even if Karlos Santanam is telling the truth and the GOI is lying, or vice versa... either way, the blow to institutional credibility of our national strategic defense and policymaking apparatus is arguably more damaging to our deterrence posture than an actual fizzle of the TN device might have been.

Our credibility (and hence deterrence posture) will be further eroded, should we openly go back on the very-ill-advised moratorium of 1998, on the pretext of an Operation Shakti fizzle or any other excuse. Liars and prevaricators inept enough to be obvious about their lies and prevarication have badly damaged their chances of being able to bluff effectively, and hence undermined their own "deterrent" capacity. If we allow ourselves to get "caught in the lie" of 1998's TN fizzle... and it may already be too late... we may actually be in a worse position, deterrent-wise, than before 1998.

The second moral of this story has to do with the "Log Kya Kahenge" deterrence you referred to. Saddam Hussein openly, viciously flouted the norms of "Log Kya Kahenge" deterrence when he used weapons of deterrence as weapons of terrifying intimidation and coercion. That he could use mustard gas against unruly villagers, not only removed any cover of "Log Kya Kahenge" deterrence he might have otherwise availed of when the most powerful nations on earth got together to lynch him and rape his country. It actually gave the aggressors... USA and UK... a pretext on which to launch a war for the conquest and recolonization of Iraq. Witness Al-Quolin Bin Powell's slideshow of "chemical weapons factory trucks" at the UN. The irony there was that Saddam's own ineptitude at bluffing had been turned 100% against him.

If indeed the TN test was a fizzle, and we need to develop a real TN deterrent, re-testing by "backing out" of the 1998 moratorium must be recognized as an option that taxes our credibility... which, we have established, is key to "deterring" anything because our ability to bluff convincingly is based on having good credibility.

If we must test again we must do it the Chinese way. We have to find someone, somewhere, who will let us test the damn thing on their soil and claim that it is THEIR thermonuclear bomb. Win-win situation.

Maybe Iran?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 18 Sep 2009 11:52

Sanku wrote:Oh we can make any such convoluted arguments in case of India also, in fact nothing suggests that we would have been nuked till now if we did not have nukes.


Suppose we had no nukes, and war erupts between India and Pakistan. Would Pakistan hesitate if one of her corps is destroyed and the gates to Lahore are open?

Sanku wrote:Or are you saying that? That we certainly would have been nuked if we didnt have the fission bombs?


All I'm saying is that our deterrence (even if it is a bluff) is working.

Sanku wrote:Would Israel be attacked for sure without nukes?


Nukes are meant to deter nuclear wars and not border skirmishes. As far as the answer to your question goes, Israel's conventional might is its protector against its neighbors.

Sanku wrote:Would some one nuke us for sure without nukes?


I'll cite the same Pakistani example.

Sanku wrote:And if they dont happen that means we dont need nukes?


If PRC had not developed nukes, would we have proceeded?

Sanku wrote:This entire chain of reasoning is like "I am 24 year old, I have never worn a helmet on a motor bike, my brain is still inside my head -- ergo all the helmets were not necessary for me and no helmet policy turned out well"

It works well, till it doesnt.


Stupid analogy, but the conclusion you draw is correct. Nuclear deterrence works well till it doesn't.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 18 Sep 2009 12:41

Johann wrote:What you have said about nuclear weapons, deterrence and conventional conflicts is not quite right. In many, if not most cases nuclear weapons were meant to offset conventional military disadvantages.


True Sir, but my point is nukes do not prevent conventional wars. I do agree that in situations where the conventional capability gap is very high, nukes do step in (as a cost efficient alternative).

Johann wrote:Israel acquired nuclear capabilities most of all to prevent itself from being overwhelmed and overrun by conventional forces. There was a moment in 1973 when they thought they might have to use them tactically (ie against enemy military forces in the field).


Sir, my belief is that the threat of a Soviet invasion crapped the daylights out of the Israelis, and convinced them to "explore" the nuclear path. Against her adversaries, Israel's conventional military strength suffices.

Johann wrote:It was the same for NATO's (including France's) Cold War nuclear doctrine - tactical weapons were intended to offset the massive Soviet/Warsaw Pact numerical advantage. This ended with the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Eastern Europe and the CFE Treaty.


Sir, the 1967 Soviet warplans called for 200+ (probably more) nukes within the first hour of the war itself. One of the targets was Lyon. Won't the French go for Moscow? The bottom line is that both sides knew that there are no tactical nukes, strategic nukes will follow.

Johann wrote:The Pakistanis believe their nuclear weapons deter India from using its conventional advantage to attempt another 1971 or worse on it.


Sir, that can be one of the conclusions. But orbat.com has stressed (at least) on one occasion that IA does not consider Pakistani nukes to be that much of a factor. Also, did Pakistani nukes help during Operation Parakram?

Johann wrote:Mao counted on nuclear weapons as part of the mix to deter and defeat both US backed RoC/Taiwanese invasion and march on Beijing as well as a Czechoslovakian-style Soviet invasion to enforce CPC leadership change.


And Mao was bluffing. Mao did not have enough nukes to deter the two superpowers and neither did he have nukes capable of being fit into a missile. It was the Soviets (a nuke power) who first protected Mao from an American (the other nuke power) nuke strike; later, this destroyer-protector order was reversed. Had the Soviets and the US decided to "take care of" PRC once and for all at the same time, lovely mushroom clouds would have been visible all over the Middle Kingdom regardless of what or how many the Chinese nukes were.

Johann wrote:Russia since the 1990s has depended on nuclear weapons to prevent invasion by NATO, China, etc because of the severe decline of its conventional forces.


I doubt that Sir. Yes, Russia used her nukes to preserve her influence as much as she could, but there was no intention to invade Russia on part of the West and PRC. Also, why would then Russia go down from 60000 nukes to under 20000?

Johann wrote:The Kim Family mafia in North Korea depends on nuclear weapons to deter invasion and regime change by the US/RoK/Japan, and anyone else, including the PRC and Russia.


Sir, the artillery guns over Seoul and the bio-chemical shells they can throw are a bigger threat than Kim's wannabe nukes.

Johann wrote:In all of these cases, while wars have broken out since nuclear weapons have been introduced (apart from NATO-WP), no one has dared to allow it to go beyond a border skirmish or unconventional warfare. No one is going for the 'jaguar vein'.


Spot on Sir.

Johann wrote:Did the Indian state count on nuclear weapons to deter conventional invasions?


I do not think so Sir; India has been capable of successfully dealing with a two-front war for a long time now. This raises an interesting question Sir, why did we develop nukes? Would love to discuss that with you.

Johann wrote:Would the GoI use nuclear weapons if it looked like it was about to lose Tawang or Arunachal Pradesh to a PLA advance?


No Sir, GoI would not. (This is purely a speculative opinion of mine.)

Johann wrote:Perhaps, if the leadership thought the Indian Republic's very survival was imminently threatened.


Given our capabilities, Sir a land invasion of Delhi or any of our other major nerve-centers (Assam and Punjab come to mind) is out of the question. The only way to threaten Indian Republic's survival is a decapitating nuke strike. This, then, raises another interesting question: Did somebody (US or PRC or both) threaten to turn Delhi into a radioactive marsh, which then compelled India to weaponize her nukes? Or is it that our big-power ambitions (which are completely just in my opinion) mandated nukes?

Johann wrote:However, as far as anyone can see the IA/IAF counts on conventional capabilities to stop the Chinese in their tracks. That is after all how they've done it since 1962 and before the tests of 1974 and 1998.


True, but then why did we decided to develop nukes? Was there a need other than "reputation"?

Johann wrote:Nuclear capability has enhanced India's status as a major up and coming economic power with a very large conventional forces, but its military situation has not been fundamentally changed by Shakti. That does not mean the same is true of all other nuclear powers at all other times.


Spot on Sir. But how big a role did nukes play? I’m not being sarcastic, genuinely curious.

Johann wrote:Besides the historical cases Israel, Russia, Pakistan, North Korea, and some of NATO's eastern most states still count on nuclear weapons to deter invasion, state collapse and regime change or erasure.


Sir, out of the abovementioned states, only Pakistan seemingly fits the bill.

PS: Sorry to have broken down your argument into bits; it is just that this is the only way I'm able to address all the counter-points raised.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 18 Sep 2009 12:44

shiv wrote:Interestingly the US (which wanted to use nukes against Korea) has not used nukes anywhere and has opted to lose wars rather than use nukes. There is a message here.


... that there are no tactical nukes.

And in one of your latter posts, you have captured very well that a deterrence fail is a deterrence fail throughout. An Indo-Pak nuclear exchange will not remain an Indo-Pak only nuclear exchange.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 18 Sep 2009 14:14

Vishal_Bhatia wrote:Suppose we had no nukes, and war erupts between India and Pakistan. Would Pakistan hesitate if one of her corps is destroyed and the gates to Lahore are open?

All I'm saying is that our deterrence (even if it is a bluff) is working.


But what you have "supposed" has not happened. So how does 1 follow from 2. It cant.

Our bluff isnt working, its just that the right scenario to test it has not happened till now luckily.

Sanku wrote:Nukes are meant to deter nuclear wars and not border skirmishes. As far as the answer to your question goes, Israel's conventional might is its protector against its neighbors.


Poor answer the same answer can apply for India, ergo we dont even need Fission.

Sanku wrote:I'll cite the same Pakistani example.


No example

Sanku wrote:If PRC had not developed nukes, would we have proceeded?


But it has hence that is irrelevant.

Sanku wrote:Stupid analogy, but the conclusion you draw is correct. Nuclear deterrence works well till it doesn't.


Stupid analogy but right conclusion? Hmm I see some issues in basic logic here. Meanwhile frankly, this entire discussion is stupid because its basic starting point was such.

My friend, you are dreaming period, plain and simple, there is no 0 deterrence or 1 deterrence. TNs are needed to deter some things from happening "if the need arises" fissions would deter something else.

Because the need has not arisen for TN it does not mean that Fission has worked.

Johann has a good detailed reply to this, much better than this conversation needed frankly but excellent never the less.

Meanwhile please read what India draft doctrine suggests for deterrence posture.

Problems of extrapolating case B from data for A.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 14:23

Rudradev wrote:
If indeed the TN test was a fizzle, and we need to develop a real TN deterrent, re-testing by "backing out" of the 1998 moratorium must be recognized as an option that taxes our credibility... which, we have established, is key to "deterring" anything because our ability to bluff convincingly is based on having good credibility.

If we must test again we must do it the Chinese way. We have to find someone, somewhere, who will let us test the damn thing on their soil and claim that it is THEIR thermonuclear bomb. Win-win situation.

Maybe Iran?


Rudradev that was an outstanding post, but I quote the paragraphs that I have trouble with, and I will try and explain.

Backtracking on the 1998 moratorium sends out the signal that we somehow feel that our existing deterrent is inadequate. For any nation that has to face another country with one hundred 25 kt warheads the idea that this is not frightening enough is absurd. The only conclusions can be that either India does not really have its one hundred 25 kt warheads or it is deliberately upping the ante by testing again.

Now every country that has a modicum of nuclear capability on earth understands that the only thing that keeps them away from a working fission bomb is the availability of weapons grade fissile material (and any treaties they have voluntarily signed). No country on Earth that looks at India will believe that India's 100 x 25 kt warheads do not work and hence the poor Indians need to test

The only conclusion that others will reach about India wanting to test again despite having a credible arsenal of 100 x 25 kt warheads is that India is, for some reason upping the ante and indulging in international nuclear gaaandmasti.

Iran is one country that needs to water down its own rhetoric lest it gets treated like Iraq. Collaborating with Iran for nuclear test of an India device is IMO not a good idea. We have more to lose than gain.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Vishal_Bhatia » 18 Sep 2009 14:44

Sanku wrote:But what you have "supposed" has not happened. So how does 1 follow from 2. It cant.


So how exactly do you simulate stuff?

Sanku wrote:Our bluff isnt working, its just that the right scenario to test it has not happened till now luckily.


This is what you are missing out on: The point of a deterrence is to prevent a mushroom cloud. No mushroom cloud implies that the deterrence (even if a bluff) is working. If a mushroom cloud is inevitable, it is deterrence fail. Even if you have a 2000-nuke "deterrent", if a nuclear war erupts, your deterrence has failed.

Sanku wrote:Poor answer the same answer can apply for India, ergo we dont even need Fission.


So we acquired nukes to prevent Chinese intrusions and to foil Pakistani terrorism?

Sanku wrote:No example


Again, how does one simulate stuff if one cannot make a supposition?

Sanku wrote:If PRC had not developed nukes, would we have proceeded?


You asked: "And if they (states who would have nuked us) dont happen (to have nukes) that means we dont need nukes?"

If I have misunderstood your question, let me know.

Sanku wrote:Stupid analogy but right conclusion? Hmm I see some issues in basic logic here.


The whole comparison of wearing helmets and nukes wasn't apt from a logical point of view; that is what I meant. Your conclusion is right.

Sanku wrote:Meanwhile frankly, this entire discussion is stupid because its basic starting point was such.


Then, why bother arguing? I have no problems with agreeing to disagree.

Sanku wrote:My friend, you are dreaming period, plain and simple, there is no 0 deterrence or 1 deterrence. TNs are needed to deter some things from happening "if the need arises" fissions would deter something else.


A nuke goes off in Mumbai. Is this the first thing you ask: Was it a TN or boosted-fission?

Having said that, when did I say or imply that India does not need TNs?

Sanku wrote:Because the need has not arisen for TN it does not mean that Fission has worked.


So you are saying that we have no deterrent---all bluff?

Sanku wrote:Johann has a good detailed reply to this, much better than this conversation needed frankly but excellent never the less.


Why bring him in between?

Sanku wrote:Meanwhile please read what India draft doctrine suggests for deterrence posture.


That India's nukes are meant to deter a nuclear adversary---prevent a nuclear war?

Sanku wrote:Problems of extrapolating case B from data for A.


Didn't quite get this one.
Last edited by Vishal_Bhatia on 18 Sep 2009 14:49, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 18 Sep 2009 14:46

Vishal B let it be, if you think that not having TN is enough deterrence, good for you. The rest of Indian strategic community does not agree of course, but that is not an issue, you have your own PoV which you are entitled too, I have no issues.

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby Sanku » 18 Sep 2009 14:53

shiv wrote:1> For any nation that has to face another country with one hundred 25 kt warheads the idea that this is not frightening enough is absurd.
2> The only conclusions can be that either India does not really have its one hundred 25 kt warheads or it is deliberately upping the ante by testing again.


Strongly disagree with the above. It has been discussed many a times how 200 KT range TNs are needed for a CMD against many nations -- BK, BC, Adm Menon, etc etc.. have long maintained the need for the same etc. The reason I dont post any of that is because it will be all a repeat of articles I am sure you know very well.

Thus though you may have your PoV that TNs are not needed, to call this idea "absurd" would I think be "absurd" given the large body of thought behind it.

It thus follows that since there are multiple thoughts for 1, 2 is clearly wrong, many conclusions can be drawn and the only possible conclusion that I would draw is that India is correcting a past mistake.

Of course in one view everything can be viewed as escalation including buying Hawks instead of Mig 21 trainer, but we dont really worry about that do we?

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Re: Can nuclear deterrence survive on a bluff?

Postby shiv » 18 Sep 2009 15:58

Sanku wrote:
shiv wrote:Thus though you may have your PoV that TNs are not needed,


You are not the only one to make this absurd second-guessing of my thoughts - but this is a convenient time for me to say it and set this particular misreading of my statements right.

In no thread at any time have I said that India does not need Thermonuclear weapons.

All I am saying is that the absence of thermonuclear weapons does not mean that deterrence cannot exist. You are welcome to join the entire bunch of people you have named in disagreeing with me - but kindly do not misquote me to disagree with a strawman that you have created.


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