surinder wrote:You guys have been talking of deterrence in terms in terms of a direct nuclear attack by PRC. But it seems to me that PRC is more likely to use Nuclear weapons on India indirectly, not directly. The indirect route is through TSP. In fact, PRC is the major reason behind TSP's nuke capability. We may be lost on in thinking of deterrence scenarios which envisage a direct PRC strike on India, but we need to think more in terms of an indirect strike. This is much more likely scenario.
PRC has attempted to counter US nukes by an innovative & bold approach of nuclear proliferation. TSP & N. Korea being the more overt examples of that. Iran, Libya are also an indirect result of PRC. THis seems to have worked, as US is made to distract & fritter away its energy fighting nuclear fire in TSP, N.Korea, & Iran.
Given this track record & tendencies, in case there is Indo-TSP war, or an Indo-PRC war, it will encourage TSP to nuke India. It might fool TSP, and embolden it on a path if TSP dithers. What would India do? Will it restrict its nuclear retaliation to TSP? Or will it retaliate against PRC as well? Will it equate an attack on India by TSP to be an attack by PRC itself?
I think Indo-PRC deterrence is more about answering & exploring this indirect path. India's red-lines & nuclear doctrine, and stance must ultimately be designed to deter PRC from even using TSP to attack India. Your comments on this are welcome, Shiv & Johann & others.
Surinder every country other than India seems to have used chamchas and/or proxies to extend their nuclear and/or conventional clout. It's back to that Venn diagram that shows proliferation of nukes from the US to France and the UK, and the USSR to China. Later it was China to Pakistan to Korea, Iran, Libya and KSA
India is definitely up a gum tree. If we allow Pakistani nukes to degrade us, we give China a walkover. China has everything to gain by seeing India nuked by Pakistan. But in my view the US bears part of the responsibility. As you know the common view on the forum is that the US would like to see India down and out which is why they were happy to see Pakistan get nukes from China.
I think India's path forward has not been easy and is not going to be easy either in future. I believe it is most important for India, first and foremost to get deterrence to hold. Our visible and invisible actions are very important.
If we openly start testing and saying the we want to refine our nuclear weapons we are sending the signal to our nearest adversaries that we are looking at breaking deterrence ourselves. That is the excuse they need to start openly increasing their arsenal and start proliferating to others. A "wink wink nudge nudge Al Qaeda" nuke on India can theoretically be done in the same way that terrorism is used. Let me explain. "LeT" explodes a nuke in India. India wants to retaliate while Pakistan says that they know nothing and that it may be an Indian nuke that has accidentally gone off. China supports Pakistan as says that "Poor Pakistan" is being made a victim when incompetent Indian forces have exploded their own nuke. China then reserves the right to nuke India is India chooses to break deterrence and nuke Pakistan.
Whichever way you look at it India is up a gum tree. Testing is not a happy option for the above reasons, but not testing will no guarantee that it will not occur anyway. Is there any way out?
One way out would be to quietly manufacture as many nuclear weapons as possible. India has demonstrated "some capability". I personally have no doubts about capability up to 200 kt given that it is easier to make a boosted fission bomb explode than a pure fission bomb, But I am less concerned about that than total numbers of weapons. India really should end up with at least 400 warheads and means of delivering them, but this development should be deliberately kept under wraps and revealed only as leaks to interested foreign agencies so that the potential receivers of nukes know, while India behaves holier than thou in public.
In other words, in case of breakdown of deterrence India really needs to prepare for a general nuclear war in which India can be expected to be heavily damaged but neither Pakistan nor China will get away. And no question of fooling around and wasting warheads trying to get enemy silos in mountains. They should all be blasted off at cities. Nuclear war is not nice and both China and Pakistan will have to find out just how "not nice" it is.
And of course, development of missile defence is an absolute must.
A rational China will realise that even if 20 Indian nukes fall on China they will have to use up a sizable portion of their arsenal against India leaving them essentially naked against the US. So India bandwagoning with the US is actually a great idea, despite earlier US perfidy.
Whatever happens Pakistan's capacity to keep making nukes needs to be degraded by degrading her economy and Balkanizing Pakistan. Here again bandwagoning with the US is a good idea, because the US does not need a nuclear armed Pakistan to help its cause against anyone. The US has enough nukes to take on the whole world and Paki nukes are only a complication.
Finally - it matters little whether any Indian believes that Indian nukes work or not - as long as the Pakis an Chinese know. In that sense Santhanam is doing some damage. Arun Prakash has tried to set that damage right in a public article - but I suspect that Santhanam is now being sidelined by the establishment (or he is being utilized as a person whose views will be taken for further testing if required.) Even apart from all this he is beginning to look more like a irascible retiree with a chip on his shoulder because the story has now lost steam and those 500 scientists who agree with him are keeping mum after he stuck is neck out.
Just some random impressions...