A study on: Exploring U.S. Missile Defense Requirements in 2010: What Are the Policy and Technology Challenges?
From India to North Africa: Sowing A Missile Crop
Across the Southern edge of Asia and along the Northern tier of African states, missile capabilities are proliferating. Some of the states involved in this proliferation are currently considered friendly to the United States, others claim to be nonaligned, and three or four are considered hostile. Unfortunately, as time passes, the political alignment of these states could well change. At this point in time, it is impossible to predict with certainty how these changes will affect future U.S. security interests.
Within the area specified, India, Israel, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Libya are clearly the leading states in the region that either hold or have the potential to develop by 2010 a significant missile-based weapon capability. (Afghanistan, UAE, and Yemen also hold some Scud B's.) As has been discussed in the preceding chapters, technology is flowing around the globe, not only from Russia and China, but from Western states as well. This unprecedented flow of knowledge across state borders makes projecting a definitive trend line for the rate of future missile developments highly problematic. The amount and type of foreign assistance that will be provided to any or all of these states is also an incalculable variable.
Of the states cited, Israel clearly has the most advanced capabilities across the broadest spectrum of missile technologies. Its Jericho I and Jericho II missiles are known entities. In addition, Israel has developed a limited space-launch capability, a satellite production industry, a theater missile defense system (Arrow), and is using its access to both U.S. and Russian scientific expertise to help bolster its overall missile technology base. There is no doubt that Israel could field an ICBM capability by 2010 if it should so choose. Israel's Jericho system, and any future long-range missile systems that it may deploy, clearly will function as nuclear delivery assets since it is an open secret that Israel is an undeclared nuclear power. Indeed, much of the resentment felt in many countries regarding U.S. policies on MTCR adherence and on nuclear nonproliferation is rooted in Israel's immunity from U.S. censure for engaging in the sort of activities that earns other states U.S. condemnation.
Of the other states under consideration in this chapter, India is the nation that has the greatest potential of achieving great power status. It has the size, population, technical potential, and desire to emerge as a major player in the international system during the first half of the 21st century. As such, it will be the primary state considered in this chapter. The other states cited will be briefly reviewed; however, as much of the flow of technology to Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria has already been discussed in the previous chapters, briefer summations of these states will be offered.
India: Great Hopes, Limited Means — A Surprise In The Offing?
Introduction. India is a country troubled by internal dissent and separatist movements, marked by violent class and religious rivalries, over-regulated by a stifling bureaucracy, sensitive to perceived "color" discrimination, and resentful of its 300-year history as a colonized nation. Its sensitivities and resentments are exacerbated by its lack of international stature (as demonstrated by its inability to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and the rejection of its bid to join ASEAN). As one of the world's oldest civilizations, comprised of the world's second largest population, India has long believed that it is entitled to global status with a major voice in international affairs. However, Indians typically complain, "We are a country of over 900 million people, but no one pays any attention to us!" Taken together, these factors have helped to shape India's national identity and to influence its national security policies.
As it looks to the future, many Indian strategists believe that the West has proven itself unprepared to deal with Asia's problems, that the international system as it has evolved is incapable of dealing with the challenges of a potential conflict in Asia.1 They are also convinced that the world will develop into a multipolar security structure during the 21st century, thereby giving India an opportunity to claim its rightful place in international affairs and emerge as a major regional and international power.2
International recognition, Indian leaders have come to realize, will require more than just having a large population. As India's foreign minister noted in an address to the Royal Institute of International Affairs on November 22, 1995, population cannot be the criterion of entry into any grouping — economic strength, military power, and definitive stands are.3 Indian policymakers believe that India should have a role to play in the Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, expanding its influence in a centrifugal manner, expanding out from being a credible regional player to seeking a place on the world stage.4
India holds a major advantage over other states with similar goals. It has no regional rivals in South Asia that could challenge its emergence as a regional hegemon. For example, China is located in a region containing four other major powers (Russia, Japan, the United States, and Korea) that will contest any attempt on China's part to establish hegemonic domination. For India, there are no other states in Southern Asia that could challenge effectively Indian hegemony if India attains its goal of becoming a self-sufficient military power.
Although Indo-Chinese relations have improved since 1987, India still suspects China of being the country most likely to challenge its efforts to emerge as a regional power. Even so, it would be difficult for China to challenge India. While India and China share a 3500 km boundary (referred to as the "line of actual control"),5 the obstacles involved in traversing the Himalayan Mountains make it difficult for these two nations to conduct large-scale warfare against each other by conventional means. It is more likely that any major military conflict between these two states would primarily involve punitive actions using aircraft, missile, and naval forces, coupled with limited border incursions. Thus, for India, missiles and naval forces represent key elements of its future security strategy vis-à-vis China.
As its strategists review India's national aspirations and the country's security situation, they occasionally express a vague irritation over the very existence of Pakistan as a separate nation. They recognize that if the British had not partitioned the country when it granted independence, India today would stretch from the Gulf of Oman to Burma, control the entire northern coastline of the Bay of Bengal, and encompass a population that is greater than even China's. It is clear that if the predominantly Muslim territories of East and West Pakistan (renamed Bangladesh and Pakistan) had not been carved out of British India, India would now be well positioned to gain access to Central Asia, perhaps to obtain oil supplies via a pipeline from Iran or across Afghanistan, and to focus its military efforts on balancing China and increasing India's role in Southern Asia without the distraction of containing Pakistan.
Nevertheless, Pakistan exists and India is forced to contend with it. Since independence was declared in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, conducted hundreds of other skirmishes and artillery exchanges, and supported separatist movements in each other's countries. As such, Pakistan is seen as being India's most immediate security concern, a concern that holds the possibility for nuclear conflict. Nevertheless, in the broader strategic context, China is still viewed as India's major competitor.6
With regard to the United States, most Indian policymakers desire stronger relations with that country. This desire is evidenced by the fact that since the end of the Cold War Indo-American relations have warmed considerably. Yet, this warming has also had its chilly periods. Issues such as India's nuclear test ban stance, missile development, nuclear status, and other like issues frequently strain relations between these states, leading to a flurry of articles in the Indian press about America's "bullying behavior."7 Adding to the air of uncertainty is the gradual re-emergence of Russia as a player in southern Asia, along with the warming of Indo-Iranian relations and the growing role of China in the region.
Thus, the emerging situation has once again provided India with some new avenues to explore as it tries to balance its competing national interests. One concept that is occasionally voiced is the idea that Russia, India, and China should explore the possibility of forming a triple entente as a check on U.S. power.8 In essence, this is an echo of the same idea being voiced by some Russian and Iranian strategic thinkers, but with the addition of Iran to the formulation. Although the future course of Indo-American relations is still to be determined, the evidence indicates that India hopes for better relations with the United States, but also wants to be able to deter United States intervention in India's affairs if it should ever prove necessary. Indian thinkers are also very conscious of the history of Chinese-American relations. The United States changed its behavior toward China only after that state developed a strategic nuclear capability. They believe that model should be viewed as a lesson for India.
India's Apparent National Objectives
In simple terms, India's apparent national objectives are to develop its economy, to maintain its security (to include preventing national fragmentation), and to achieve regional and international recognition and influence commensurate with its size and population. The attainment of these objectives is identified in a number of specific goals that are assessed to include the following:
1. Continue to develop and broaden its economic potential.
India has a two-tiered economy. A minority of its population (150-175 million) is participating in the developing Indian economy that is generating an economic middle-class (primarily composed of upper-caste Hindus some Muslims who live in economically advancing urban areas), while the majority of its population remains locked in grinding poverty. In its efforts to develop its economy, India has put a significant amount of emphasis on developing a self-sufficient economic base. Toward this end, India has, until recently, restricted foreign investment and engaged in highly protectionistic economic practices.
Overall, the economic effect of this policy change has been positive, but less positive than had been hoped. The primary brake still dragging on India's rate of economic growth is its overly high tariffs and stifling bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that is able to smother in red tape all but the most stalwart of investors. However, India has some capabilities that make the hassle worthwhile.
From a technological perspective, India has tremendous potential for development. In terms of quantity, India has one of the world's largest scientific talent pools, weighing in at an estimated 3.8 million people.9 Of these, only about three-fourths of them are employed in technical or scientific jobs at any one time, leaving India with a reserve pool of trained manpower for future growth. Qualitatively, India's best scientists are a match for the best anywhere.10 As a result, foreign multinationals have begun to set up R&D laboratories in India to capitalize on India's competitive advantage in engineering services and natural sciences.11
Similarly, one of India's major technological strengths is software development. As of 1994, India had over 250 software development firms, plus another 350 startup organizations.12 Of India's software production, half of it is exported, with the United States accounting for 58 percent of the software exports.13 Since software can be written in India at perhaps one-tenth of the cost of software production in the United States, India is rapidly becoming one of the software capitals of the world as it enjoys a significant competitive advantage in this sector.
Likewise, India has worked to develop and apply its technological potential to solving its energy challenge. Clearly, if India is to achieve its economic potential, it must develop abundant sources of energy for its economy. The current situation that includes frequent electrical black-outs must be remedied. Moreover, by the middle of the 21st century, it is estimated that India will have to increase its electrical-generation capacity by 300,000 MWs (the equivalent of 1000 nuclear reactors of the 300 MW class).14 Toward this end, India began commercial operation of two U.S.-built light water reactors at Tarapur in 1969. These two 160 MW reactors are the only civil reactors in India that require low-enriched uranium fuel. All of its other commercial reactors use natural uranium fuel (U-238) and heavy water (deuterium), both of which India produces indigenously. As a result, India does not yet have large-scale uranium enrichment facilities and must buy low-enriched uranium to fuel its two light-water reactors.
France had been providing the needed low-enriched fuel each of two reactors. However, when that contract came up for renewal, the U.S. coordinated with potential suppliers to make a common demand that India accept comprehensive full-scope nuclear safeguards as a condition of sale, safeguards which would have included India's entire nuclear industry.15 China came to India's rescue and is now supplying the needed fuel under IAEA safeguard that includes only the two reactors involved. It seems probable that if China had not come to its aid, India might have temporarily shut down those reactors until it could have manufactured for itself the fuel needed rather than accept comprehensive full-scope safeguards. As it turned out, China's gesture has helped ease tensions between the two states.
To help meet its current and future electrical needs, India now operates 10 nuclear power reactors (Figure 4-2) and has an additional six research reactors.16 It currently employs about 20,000 scientists and technical people at 16 sites in its nearly self-sufficient nuclear industry (figures include those working on military programs). As it looks to its long-term energy requirements, India has adopted a three-phased nuclear power program to meet its future power requirements.
STATUS OF INDIA'S NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS
|Name and Location||MWe
Commercial start date
|Tarapur 1, Tarapur, Maharashtra||160||10/69|
|Rajasthan 1, Kota, Rajasthan||207||4/81|
|Madras 1 Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu||220||3/86|
|Narora 1 Narora, Uttar Pradesh||220||1/91|
|Kakrapar 1 Kakrapar, Gujarat||220||5/93|
|Kaiga 1, Kaiga, Karnataka||220||1997|
The first and current stage is to deploy a series of pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR), which are modeled on Canada's deuterium uranium reactor (CANDU). In 1983, India commissioned its first indigenously designed PHWR. Since then, five more PHWRs have come on line, four are being constructed (projected completion date of 1997), and twelve more are planned.17 These reactors can be used to generate both electricity and plutonium. PHWR systems are extremely efficient power generators which are also well suited for plutonium production — more so than are U.S. light-water reactors. Tritium can also be produced using HWRs.18
The plutonium generated in India's first stage will be used to fuel the second stage of its nuclear power program when a group of liquid-metal, fast-breeder reactors will be commissioned.19 In preparation for activating this second phase, India began operating an experimental molten sodium 8 MW breeder reactor in 1985. It plans to develop fast-breeder reactors in order to obtain maximum utilization from its limited stocks of uranium, with the design for the first 500 MW reactor planned for construction at Kalpakkam now being finalized.
As for the third stage, India intends to develop a thorium-based fuel cycle to take advantage of India's thorium reserves found in abundant quantities in the monozite sands of the Kerala coast. Toward this end, in 1996 India activated an experimental 30-kWt reactor to learn how to burn thorium 232. This reactor is the first of its kind ever commissioned to burn this exotic fuel.20
Of interest from a potential proliferation perspective, when thorium 232 is radiated it converts to uranium 233. If weaponized, its characteristics resemble plutonium 239 (i.e., in explosive power, quantity required per weapon, etc.). India has recently signed an agreement with Brazil, a country which also has a significant quantity of thorium, to cooperate together on thorium technology development.
On the whole, India has the potential for supplying most of its electrical energy needs for several centuries (Figure 4-3). It has large coal deposits and contains the world's second largest reserves of thorium.21 However, as shown in the accompanying figure, India only has a limited amount of proven uranium reserves (estimated at 67,000 metric tons), and its oil reserves are much smaller than China's.22
It is India's oil requirements that cause concern. India's oil consumption is growing at 9 percent a year; it is critical that India make an effort to ensure that it can supply its future oil needs. (Most of India's oil supplies will be provided by Islamic states. Currently, Iran is India's biggest oil supplier, providing India with four million tons per year, some of which it allows India to pay for by barter and soft currency.)23
Yet, for all of its raw scientific and technological capabilities, India is still well behind in developing the skills needed to integrate technologies into systems and produce those systems using advanced manufacturing techniques. Its industry is "spotty" in that it has the capability to produce world-class products in a few areas, but lacks the complete system needed to compete across a broad array of product lines. India is making a concerted effort to use its defense industries as an engine for development as it works to overcome industrial weaknesses. Gradually, progress is being made, but often its grand plans are implemented very slowly as target dates slip since the available funding is chronically less than that required.
India also has not yet solved the problem of how to elevate living standards for its population as a whole. The problem of rural development, the challenge inherent in overcoming the prejudices of the caste system, and the religious and ethnic rivalries that constantly tear at the fabric of Indian society also hinder its economic development. Considering the challenges that face India, it is difficult to develop much optimism regarding its future prospects as a whole, but in narrow areas of focus (particularly in technology), India has the potential for generating a few surprise developments.
2. Hold the country together and withstand the forces of separatism that would tear India apart.
India is a land of fierce emotions, growing nationalism, marked by separatist movements in Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam, and beset by a weakening political structure as the secular Congress Party, which was designed as a party of unity with appeal to all factions of India's political spectrum, has lost is pre-eminent position in Indian politics. This power shift has been gathering momentum for some time. The passing of the Gandhi family from India's political scene, coupled with a succession of corruption scandals, eroded popular support for the Congress Party. As a result, the parties representing factional interests have grown in strength at the expense of national unity. In the last national election, the strengthening Bharatiya Janata Party24 garnered the largest bloc of votes (less than an absolute majority), but was unable to form a government because other parties shunned coalition with this strongly nationalistic Hindu party suspected of being religiously biased. This hawkish party advocates that India declare itself a nuclear power and proceed with the deployment of nuclear and missile forces.
The resulting situation is difficult to assess. Frequent visitors to India claim that nationalistic fervor is increasing even though India's political unity is fragmenting and its political future is growing more uncertain. Concurrently, domestic violence and armed separatist movements are common facts of life. As a result, military power is seen as important not only for inter-state relations, but also as a force with which to hold the country together.25 Considering India's internal problems, it is likely that much of India's future political energy will remain focused internally as it grapples with the problem of preserving itself as a unified nation.
3. Maintain India's external security and enhance its status in regional affairs and in the international community — perhaps someday to become a superpower.
India's external security concerns and its desire to increase its stature in the international community are intertwined goals that cannot be easily separated for analysis. As such, they are best examined as part of a whole. India's security goals seem to include:
- the need to contain Pakistan;
- to strategically balance China;
- to dominate events in the Indian Ocean;
- to gain access to and expand its influence in Central Asia;
- to be able, if necessary, to deter U.S. intervention in the region; and
- perhaps, someday, to become a superpower.
Security Goal 1: Contain Pakistan and Gain Access to Central Asia. Pakistan sees itself as a bulwark against Indian hegemony over Southern Asia. Although Pakistan (population 130-140 million) is strategically inferior to India, the bitterness and hatred that exists between these two states increase the chance that a simple political dispute could flair into all-out war regardless of the logic behind the act. With tempers short, it is not surprising to find that India and Pakistan fought two wars (1947-48 and 1956) over the status of Kashmir and a third in 1971 over the issue of independence for East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).26 Indian and Pakistani forces have engaged in sporadic battles over the control of Siachen Glacier in Kashmir, and the Indo-Pakistani border remains heavily militarized, with a possibility that the artillery duels that spring up frequently could ignite a fourth war.27
Although the exact details are in dispute, India and Pakistan reportedly came close to going to war with each other again in 1990. In that confrontation, there is evidence to indicate that if war had erupted, the conflict could well have involved the use of nuclear weapons. According to an investigative report on that incident written by Seymour Hersh, there is reason to believe that Pakistan may have had nuclear weapons uploaded on F-16 aircraft with pilots sitting in their fighters awaiting orders to launch.28
Of particular concern for India, Pakistan is armed with nuclear weapons with most open source estimates now crediting Pakistan with having 12-20 nuclear devices.29 In addition, Pakistan's Chinese M-11 missiles (280 km) and indigenously developed Hatf I (80 Km) and Hatf II missiles (280-300 km?) provide Pakistan the capability of targeting major Indian troop formations. Looking to the future, Pakistan, with Chinese assistance, is currently believed to be developing a 600-1000 km range missile, the Hatf III,30 which will put New Delhi and possibly Bombay in range of Pakistan's missiles. In the short-term, Pakistan's M-11 missile has a two-to-one range advantage over India's Prithvi I. (However, Pakistan's population centers are closer to the border than are India's, which leaves Pakistan in a more vulnerable situation.)
Nevertheless, in terms of all other key measurements such as size, population, resources, and general military strength, India holds an overwhelming advantage. For Pakistan, strength must be acquired by cultivating allies such as the United States and China, capitalizing on its geographic position as an historic route to the sea for the Central Asian republics, and trying to use its Islamic credentials to gain allies. With the end of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the subsequent imposition of U.S. sanctions on Pakistan for developing nuclear weapons, Pakistan began to entertain dreams of establishing a strategic Islamic bloc consisting of Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, and some of the new Central Asian Republics to stand against U.S. pressure and to protect itself against the effects of a U.S. tilt toward India.31
To counter Pakistan's strategy, India has tried to isolate Pakistan somewhat by establishing solid relations and trade links with Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics. Moreover, the Central Asian Republics are potential markets for Indian goods and services and have the potential of supplying India with uranium ore and oil, both of which India has only in limited quantities.32 Facilitating India's achievement of these goals is the growing Southwest Asian rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia (with Pakistani-Saudi ties strengthening); the civil war in Afghanistan, which has become a battleground to determine whether future trade flows of Central Asian commercial goods are funneled through Afghanistan/Pakistan or through Iran (to be discussed in the Pakistan section); and Iran's cultivation of India in response to Western sanctions.
In this regard, Iran has hopes of becoming a viable outlet to the sea for the Central Asian Republics. Toward this end, it engaged India to help build a 165 kilometer rail link to join the Iranian rail network at Masad to the Central Asian rail system at Sarakhs, Turkmenistan.33 This link was opened in May 1996.34 Moreover, in January 1995, India and Iran signed a comprehensive set of agreements on trade and joint ventures, including one to develop multilateral agreements on transit and trade between India and the Central Asian Republics via Iran.35 This agreement was broadened with the signature of The Tripartite Agreement among India, Iran, and Turkmenistan in February 1997, an agreement which specifies the rules for transit of trade goods among the parties concerned.36
Security Goal 2: Balance China as an Equal. China is the "yardstick" against which India measures itself. Both countries are underdeveloped, proud of their ancient histories, have huge populations, occupy large landmasses, and have had first-hand experience with Western imperialism. As countries sharing a common border, both states have a common security concern with the other. Within this relationship, India recognizes that China is the stronger power, especially at the strategic level. Consequently, one of India's aspirations is to develop sufficient military capability, especially in nuclear and missile forces, to emerge onto the world's stage as China's strategic equal.37 (At the same time, it should be recognized that China and India are making progress in solving some of their differences. For example, they are working to resolve their border dispute and to increase trade levels between the two states. If this movement should continue to grow, it could eventually change the strategic outlook in Asia.)
"The establishment of a permanent naval presence in the Andaman Islands on the vital trade routes between Suez and Singapore is a step in that direction."38 The expansion of Indian naval power supports the objective of expanding India's influence in South Asia. However, due to budget constraints, there are indications that India may have to use land-based aircraft and cruise and ballistic missile systems, coupled with reconnaissance satellites and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), to supplement its naval fleet as the rate of expansion of its blue-water naval capabilities may be unable to keep pace with India's national aspirations.39 (Note: India is especially concerned that Chinese access to Myanmar port facilities might allow the People's Liberation Navy (PLN) to operate and confront Indian naval forces in the Indian Ocean.)
Security Goal 4: Develop a Self-Sufficient Defense Industrial Base. In 1958, India established the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to steer India to self-reliance in weapons production through research and development. Essentially, India does not want to be dependent on foreign suppliers for military armaments, suppliers who could use that dependency to withhold parts and components and pressure Indian security policy. Indian policymakers recognize that India cannot be a major power as long as it is dependent on other countries for armaments.
Security Goal 5: If Deemed Necessary, Deter Future U.S. Military Intervention in the Region. India's elite are still smarting from the 1971 deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise and its task force in the Bay of Bengal during the Indo-Pakistani war over the independence of Bangladesh. The Indians repeatedly claim that the deployment essentially constituted a U.S. nuclear threat against India.40 Even today, U.S. diplomats visiting India are reminded of this incident. As Indian strategists look to the future they envision possible contingencies in which India will need the capability of deterring outside intervention. As a result, India's strategic program contains a planning factor that appears aimed at achieving that objective.41
India's General Military Situation
The Indian Army inherited the traditions and professional standards of the British military. However, following independence, the Indian government began to appoint and promote its military officers based on political considerations. After the humiliating showing of the Indian Army against the Chinese in 1962, India reverted to its roots and largely depoliticized its military. Today, the Indian military is a fairly competent and professional organization of 1.2 million personnel, officered by people who gained their positions based on merit.
With 980,000 personnel, the Indian Army is the largest component of the Indian defense establishment. It enjoys the highest priority for defense funding, but often has up to half of its capabilities tied up with internal security operations. Hence, it is not surprising to find that a majority of the Indian Army is composed of low-technology light-infantry units, coupled with a mix of some more capable units, including armored divisions (inventory of 2400 tanks). One of India's major goals is to upgrade its military, which is equipped primarily with Soviet-designed equipment (75-80 percent, most of which is produced in India on license),42 and to develop a greater military power projection capability.
India is also pursuing the development of a number of indigenously produced Army systems that will reduce its reliance on foreign suppliers. These efforts include such systems as the Arjun tank;43 the tri-service radar-homing short-range (9 kms) Trishul surface-to-air missile (SAM), which has a 6-8 second reaction time and is effective against low-flying targets (to include sea-skimming missiles); the medium-range (25-30 kms) Akash SAM, which uses a strap-down inertial navigation system to hit aircraft and tactical missiles, and its related phased-array radar system, the Rajendra, which guides the Akash SAM and can track 64 aircraft/missiles simultaneously; the Nag fire-and-forget anti-tank missile, which is guided by a launch-vehicle radar; the Nishant UAV; and the Lakshya unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which with modifications can also be used as a cruise missile.44
As for combat aircraft and naval combatants, India has over 900 air force and naval combat aircraft. While the Indian aircraft fleet includes many obsolete airframes, India is pursuing upgrade programs to make selected models viable delivery platforms for modern munitions as well as procuring Mirage 2000-H, MiG-29s, and Su-30 aircraft, along with an expected purchase of Il-78 aerial refueling tankers.45 Although the quantity of aircraft in India's inventory will decline in the future, their quality is expected to improve significantly. As for naval vessels, the Indian fleet numbers over 100 combat naval vessels, of which 15 are submarines, 2 are aircraft carriers, and another 23 are destroyers and fast frigates. Again, the problem with funding and the lack of spare parts means that only about one-half of India's warships are operable at any one time.46
Turning to cruise missiles, India has a number of foreign-produced cruise systems in its arsenal, to include Exocet, Styx, Starbright, Sea Eagle, and perhaps the feared Russian Sunburn supersonic missile. It also has some indigenous cruise missile systems under development to include the Sagarika and Lakshya variant.
The Sagarika (Oceanic) began development in 1994 as a submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) which will have a range of at least 300 kms (a few claim 1000 kms); it is projected for deployment around 2005. According to one report, this missile will incorporate a terrain-matching guidance system for low-level flight.47 Since none of India's current submarine fleet can test-fire this system, it seems clear that it is being developed for India's new indigenous nuclear submarine project (to be discussed later).48 It is not known if this system will include a nuclear option.
The Lakshya is a turbojet system designed as an RPV; India is also developing it as an air- or land-launched variant cruise missile system capable of carrying a 350 kg payload to a range of 600 kms. It is projected to enter service in 1998.49
It is also claimed that at least one of India's developmental cruise missiles will navigate to its target location using either U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) signals or Russian GLONASS satellites.50
It should be noted that in the conventional realm, India has not been shy in using military force in situations involving its perceived national interests. It is likely that India will continue to follow that pattern in the future. Of greater interest to the United States, however, is the question of how India might view its emerging strategic capabilities.
Apparent Missile Developments
India's Military Doctrine and Missile Requirements. India's security, according to its policymakers, can only be viewed in terms of the international hierarchy in which U.S. and Russian strategic capabilities drive China's nuclear requirements, which triggers a deterrent requirement for India, which, in its turn, drives Pakistan's nuclear development. Increasingly, this strategic hierarchy is spreading to include the Middle East. Thus, India cannot agree to forego its strategic options unless the same remedy is applied to the entire international structure, to include the United States, Russia, and China. Regional arms control that is aimed at limiting just South Asia is unacceptable.
Primarily, Indian policymakers believe that the real value of nuclear weapons is the added international stature that they confer on those states so armed, providing the international respect and influence that India desperately wishes to attain. In short, they see nuclear weapons as the currency of power in the international system. Although Indian strategic thinkers do not believe that nuclear weapons are usable warfighting instruments per se, they do think that the possession of nuclear systems makes other major powers moderate their behavior and limits the nature of any conflict between states that have nuclear weapon systems.
Within this framework, India is not believed to have gone much beyond a rudimentary level of thinking regarding the detailed objectives that it hopes to gain for its investment in strategic forces.51 However, its planners understand that India's strategic deterrent forces will only be taken seriously if India develops a real capability that is credible to other states.52
Toward this end, Indian planners have performed some conceptual work on determining how India's deterrent forces are likely to work against potential adversaries. Currently, India has a strategic doctrine based on non-weaponized deterrence.53 Essentially, India is seeking to maintain strategic ambiguity, hoping to gain deterrent value without subjecting itself prematurely to intense international disarmament pressures. As noted earlier, India has hoped to equal China before it emerges onto the world's stage as a declared nuclear power. However, considering that 62 percent of those surveyed in India expressed support for the idea that India should openly declare itself a nuclear power, future domestic political pressures could eventually change India's strategic objectives and its nuclear posture.54
Under its current non-weaponized deterrent posture, India hides its nuclear capacity while developing the wherewithal of upgrading its strategic forces to a minimum deterrent posture if or when a specific threat should emerge. In short, India does not maintain nuclear forces on alert, but it wants the option of upgrading its forces to a minimum deterrent posture if warranted by a specific threat situation. Under minimum deterrence, India would seek to be able to impose pain and destruction at a level considered to be unbearable by the adversary in relationship to the actions envisioned and objectives sought by the threatening state.55 The authority to upgrade India's deterrent posture or actually to employ India's nuclear weapons is closely held by the prime minister.
It is interesting to note that India has maintained its claim of being a non-nuclear weapons state through the careful use of definitions and semantics. For example, Indian scientists are careful to state that India does not have nuclear weapons; they will only speak of nuclear devices, as they have persistently called the mechanism that created India's "peaceful nuclear explosion" in 1974. They define a nuclear weapon as being a nuclear warhead mated with a delivery system.56 As a result, they can claim that India does not have nuclear weapons since none of its nuclear devices are attached to delivery systems.
At the same time, India has taken action to ensure that it can use its nuclear capability if necessary. For example, in the early 1980s, the Indian Air Force conducted fusing tests to verify that a nuclear bomb could be attached to and successfully released from its aircraft.57 Then, in 1986, the Indian military conducted a large field exercise, code named Brass Tacks, during which it practiced the integration of its special weapons, including tactical nuclear bombs, into the day-to-day field maneuvers of the troops.58 Likewise, as the Prithvi ballistic missile started to become available, the Indian Army began training the 333rd Artillery Group (part of the XIth Corps) in the use of the missile.59 While the Prithvi is expected to be equipped with conventional warheads for day-to-day operations and will likely be so employed for most of its wartime missions, there is little doubt that it is also capable of mounting a nuclear warhead. The Indian military has taken steps to ensure that this weapon system can be used to deliver nuclear warheads if so ordered.
Looking to the future, India sees a requirement for missile systems that can be used to deter China and probably the United States as well.60 In addition, Indian strategists understand that India's forces need long-range targeting capabilities as well as a second-strike capacity if India is to become a major international power. As a result, India sees a requirement to develop RPV systems, reconnaissance satellites, cruise missiles, and submarine-launched missiles. Indian thinkers are also concerned that, at some point, India must prove to the world that it has a viable nuclear capability.61
Strategic Missile Forces. In 1982, India successfully launched its space-launch vehicle-3 (SLV-3), which was "ostensibly carried out to exploit space for peaceful purposes."62 The following year, the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) was established for the purpose of applying the technology acquired for "peaceful" purposes to military use. The IGMDP is a high-priority program within the DRDO. Since 1983, India has made steady progress in developing an extensive space-launch vehicle program that has been used skillfully, both to develop India's commercial space-launch capabilities and as a vehicle for developing a military missile program. It should be noted that in the earlier discussion of indigenous system developments, specific note was made of the Trishul and Akash SAM systems as well as the Nag anti-tank missile. These three developments are products of the IGMDP, as is also the Prithvi, Agni, and possibly the Surya ballistic missile systems, which will be examined in this section.
In the development of its missile forces, India received a quick start through technology transfers in the fields of satellite-launching vehicles and guidance systems from Germany, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union, then built on that technology.63 In addition, there is reason to believe that Israeli firms have been deeply involved in assisting Indian space industries.64 This foreign assistance is complemented by India's extensive software development capabilities. As a result, it is reported that Indian scientists are working to integrate the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) data (and perhaps data from the Russian GLONASS as well) into its missile guidance packages, which suggests that India may be able to produce future missile systems that are quite accurate, to include development of the advanced software algorithms necessary to maneuver a warhead while in flight.65 Currently, India's ballistic missile developmental efforts include the following systems:
Prithvi (Earth). The 8.55 meter-long single-stage (containing two engines), liquid-fueled Prithvi is a road-mobile ballistic missile being developed in three models. The first, the Prithvi I, is now in production. At least 30 units are believed to have been built as of January 1996, but manufacturing and training difficulties involving the liquid fuel and guidance package were delaying the fielding. This missile can carry a 1000 kg warhead to a range of 150 kms. Five types of warheads have been reported, to include conventional high-explosive, prefragmented explosive, cluster munitions, fuel-air explosive, and nuclear. Its inertial navigation system reportedly guides the missile to target within a Circular Error Probable (CEP) equal to .01 percent of its range; however, one test may have achieved an accuracy of a 10-meter CEP, leading to speculation that the guidance system may also include the capability of feeding GPS inputs into the inertial navigation system. Its guidance system can be programmed to follow up to six different trajectories so as to avoid intercept by most missile defense interceptors. Likewise, India is applying a radar-absorbing coating to its aircraft and missiles in an attempt to reduce their radar signatures.66
The second system, the Prithvi II, is designed for use by the Indian Air Force. It will have a range of 250 kms carrying a 500-750 kg warhead. It is also reported that a Prithvi III, with a range of 350 kms carrying a 500-750 kg warhead is in advanced development.67 As the liquid fuel for the Prithvi is very toxic and must be uploaded just prior to launch, there are a few speculative reports that indicate the Prithvi III may be a solid-fueled version of the missile.68 If so, it could be that India wants the solid-fueled version for its naval forces as Indian sources have noted that the Prithvi could also be deployed on ships.
Agni (Fire). The Agni is planned to be a mobile two-stage solid/liquid-fueled IRBM launched from a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL), carrying a 500 kg warhead to a range of 2500 kms or a 1000 kg warhead to 1600 kms. It is an 18.4 meter-long by 1.3 meter-wide missile which uses as its first stage the same solid-fueled booster as that employed on India's SLV-3, while its second stage consists of a modified liquid-fueled Prithvi missile.69 The missile is fitted with a single re-entry vehicle employing a carbon-composite ablative shield that Indian sources claim heats to 3000° C, while keeping the interior cooled to not more than 40° C.70
The Agni's first stage is guided using a secondary injection thrust vector system and a hydraulically actuated fin system. The second stage, like the Prithvi, uses gimbaled engines for thrust vector control (i.e., engine nozzles swivel to change the direction of the thrust). It has an advanced inertial navigation system that may include a stellar update capability, mid-course correction using GPS, and a terminal guidance system that will allow its re-entry vehicle to use its maneuvering fins to "porpoise" the warhead to avoid missile defenses while maneuvering to its target employing a terminal guidance radar operating in the C and S bands, patterned after the type used by the U.S. Army on the Pershing II missile.71 The Indian press claims that the Agni may be able to achieve a CEP of about 60 meters.72 (The accuracy claim is probably a gross exaggeration.)
The Agni missile was flight tested three times between 1989 and February 1994, with a fourth test scheduled for November 1994. The second and third flights involved testing re-entry and maneuvering characteristics of the warhead. As U.S. pressure against the Agni program mounted, the Indian government officially relegated the missile to the status of a technology demonstrator. Then, in August 1994, U.S., British, Swiss, and Australian MTCR officials met with Indian officials in an effort to try to persuade the Indians to cancel the Agni. Although the appeal was officially rejected, the government of Prime Minister Rao later formally suspended the program (the fourth Agni test was not conducted).
Subsequently, a series of public statements made during August and September 1996 by India's new government, led by Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, indicated that the Agni program would once again be pursued. It is believed that at least five or six more test flights will be needed before this missile will be ready for production. At least four warhead variants have been discussed for use with the Agni. The first, developed in 1994, consists of a conventional warhead containing about 1000 bomblets (1 kg each), which will rain down on a target area one kilometer in diameter. The second, reportedly under development, is a warhead believed to contain an unspecified type and number of guided submunitions. The third is a fuel-air explosive (FAE) warhead,73 while the fourth and primary warhead is generally believed to be a nuclear device, possibly using a thermonuclear design. Although the Indian government denies that the Agni will be nuclear-armed,74 nevertheless, as many Indian publications point out, the Agni costs too much to develop for the sole purpose of delivering conventional payloads.
However, on December 5, 1996, India apparently again reversed direction, bowing to U.S. pressure. It announced that it was suspending the Agni program. 75 After a series of conflicting reports, Indian Prime Minister Dave Gawda indicated in March 1997 that work on the Agni would proceed. His statement was subsequently expanded upon and reinforced by the Indian Minister of Defense. 76
Surya (Sun). While the status of the Surya ICBM program is unclear, there are many reports that indicate that the development of this system is underway, with development probably being initiated in 1994.77 According to one Indian source, the Surya could be ready to begin flight testing as early as 1997. At this point, there are still several conflicting reports regarding the Surya's configuration. The most plausible report claims that the Surya will probably be based on the components of the polar space launch vehicle (PSLV).78 As for its armament, the Surya's warhead is likely to be composed of essentially the same technology as that used in the maneuvering warhead of the Agni. In short, the only thing that seems to be agreed upon is that the Surya will be composed of components perfected for the Agni IRBM and for India's space-launch vehicles and that it will have a range between 8000 and 12,000 kms.
India's geography would also allow it to launch the missile 500-600 kms north of New Delhi and push the U.S. range-arc that much further towards the south or allow it to compensate somewhat for a system that may not be able to achieve a 12,000 km range. If the Surya should prove to have a range of 12,000 kms, its unveiling will pose problems for India since initially the United States can be expected to react harshly to its existence. Therefore, a pacing item for India's unveiling of the Surya likely hinges on the status of India's nuclear warhead development and the perfection of the Agni missile system. Once it has confidence in its thermonuclear warhead and the Agni's re-entry vehicle,79 the Surya could be unveiled and tested quickly if Indian policymakers judge that it is needed and are prepared to accept the international heat for such a development. At that point, India would not require very many years before it could field a small ICBM force. Obviously, the development of the Surya is tied to the Agni. As long as the United States can keep Agni's test program in a state of suspension, the development of the Surya will also be slowed.
Related Commercial Space Programs.
As discussed earlier, India's commercial space program portends the future of its military missile developments. As such, three programs are of specific interest.
Polar Space Launch Vehicle (PSLV). India has developed a four-stage PSLV. Of note is that its first stage consists of a one million pound thrust solid-fueled booster (claimed to be the third-largest solid booster in the world)80 augmented by six solid-fueled strap-on boosters that were developed from the SLV-3 missile. The last two launches of this system have been successful. In the first successful launch, the PSLV boosted an 804 kg remote-sensing satellite into a polar orbit at an altitude of 825 kms above the earth on October 15, 1994; it repeated that success on March 21, 1996, putting a 939 kg satellite into a 817 km high sunsynchronous orbit, completing the missile's developmental test program.81 The handlers of the system are now planning to make a few adjustments so as to increase the PSLV's throwweight slightly to qualify it for launching future Iridium low earth orbit communication satellite replacements.82 It will be offering launches for $10-$12 million each.83 Of particular interest, the PSLV is also believed capable of carrying a 1000 kg warhead to a range of 8000 kms.84 By reducing the weight of the payload and making the improvements planned, this missile may be able to strike targets in the northernmost regions of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska.
Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). India is developing a three-stage GSLV (of the Ariane class) that will allow payloads of 2500 kgs to be lifted to geo-transfer orbit (22,000 miles high) for about $70-80 million per launch. The GSLV is expected to provide India with a major competitive advantage in the space launch business.85 The missile will use the first and second stages of the PSLV, but rather than use the six solid-fueled strap-on boosters used by the PSLV, it will have four more-powerful liquid-fueled strap-on boosters (adopted from the PSLV's second-stage) that will each provide 145,200 pounds of thrust. The third stage will be powered by a cryogenic engine, the first seven of these being provided by Russia, with India's Trivandrum Center developing indigenous cryogenic engines for subsequent launches. The GSLV is expected to conduct its first flight test in late 1998, with the first launch of a commercial satellite occurring in 2000.86 Although not an ideal ICBM due to the time required to fuel its third-stage cryogenic engine, it could achieve a range of 14,000 kms carrying a payload of 2500 kgs.87 (This missile could range all of the United States.)
Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellites. India has developed four IRS satellites, each of which has become increasingly more sophisticated.88 These satellites download their data to a growing network of ground stations that then forward the information to the National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad for processing. Although these sensing satellites are designed for commercial uses (agriculture assessments, water management, deforestation alerts, etc.), the newest also have the capability of providing militarily significant information as they orbit the earth 19 times a day, revisiting the same track every 22 days. This data can also be purchased as the Indian company, Antirx, has arranged for a U.S. company, EOSAT, to market the data from these satellites on a global basis.
Of particular interest are the second-generation IRS-1C (operational) and IRS-1D (soon to be launched) satellites which can provide images in the visual and near-infrared bands. Indian reports claim that objects as small as 5.8 meters can be seen with this system, while the panoramic coverage includes a swath 810 kms wide.89 More specifically, an improved camera operates in three spectral bands of visible light (20 meter resolution) and in the near-infrared band (70 meters resolution). A separate camera provides panchromatic coverage of less than 10 meters resolution, along with a wide-angle coverage operating in visible and near-infrared colors with a resolution of 188 meters.90 The satellite can be tilted 30 degrees to each side to improve its coverage of adjacent areas of interest.91 In short, the second-generation systems are capable of providing India with targeting data for large targets such as ships, troop units, ports, bridges, etc. Although India's space reconnaissance capabilities are far behind those of the United States, they are improving and are likely to be considerably better by 2010.
Nuclear Submarines. India has been working since 1985 to develop an indigenously constructed nuclear-powered submarine, one that is based on the Soviet Charlie II-class design, detailed drawings of which are said to have been obtained from the Soviet Union in 1989. This nuclear submarine project provides a good example of India's industrial capabilities and weaknesses. Although India has the capability of building the hull and developing or acquiring the necessary sensors, its industry has been stymied by several system integration and fabrication problems in trying to downsize a 190 MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) to fit into the space available within the submarine's hull. To finish this project, India is depending on Russian assistance to help solve this problem.92 Once the vessel is completed, around 2001-2005, it will be equipped with Sagarika cruise missiles and an advanced sonar system.93
The Nuclear Warhead Issue. India has conducted only one nuclear test (1974), a test which may have only been partially successful with a yield of perhaps 12 kt or less. In the intervening 22 years, India is believed to have produced some 60-200 nuclear devices and made significant progress in refining its bomb-making technology, to include overcoming the problems of miniaturization and boosted fission design (see Figure 4-6). Moreover, since at least 1989, it has been public knowledge that India was working on the development of a thermonuclear explosive device, but the program probably was started prior to 1980.94
For example, in 1989 William H. Webster, then director of the CIA, testified before a Senate subcommittee that there were indicators that India was interested in developing a thermonuclear device. One indicator Mr. Webster specifically cited was India's effort to isolate and purify the lithium-6 isotope, a key requirement in the production of a thermonuclear system. He also testified that India had purchased beryllium from West Germany, a key indicator that India was producing advanced fission device designs that incorporated the use of a neutron reflector (important for miniaturization).95 Since then, there have been recurring reports that India has developed a thermonuclear weapon.96 Considering the likelihood that the Indian thermonuclear device in question was indigenously designed, Indian leaders and strategists are facing a dilemma: they cannot be certain that their thermonuclear design works, nor will India have much credibility as an international nuclear power unless it demonstrates its nuclear capability.97 Furthermore, comments by Indian strategists and nuclear scientists make it clear that they would feel more secure if their improved fission devices were also tested to prove their capabilities.98 On the other hand, a nuclear test will undoubtedly trigger U.S. economic sanctions, which would hurt the country economically.
Regardless of the economic concerns noted above, India came close to conducting a nuclear test in December 1995. Apparently the test hole had been dug and the required instrumentation wiring had been completed at the Pokran nuclear test site in the Rajasthan desert.99 According to one report attributed to a ranking Indian official, India had been planning to conduct a test of a "hydrogen" device on December 7, 1995, but that test was postponed until mid-December due to last minute snags.100 In the meantime, U.S. intelligence discovered the preparations and apparently leaked the story. Washington put pressure on India, using threat of economic sanctions, not to conduct the test. Prime Minister Rao canceled the test, but still faced intense public and military pressure to declare India a nuclear power and to proceed as planned in testing its nuclear design.
Although it is believed that the test has not been rescheduled, this issue is not yet over. The pressure to test will grow as India's missile capabilities mature since there is a clear link between India's strategic missile programs and its nuclear capability. India's missile development is fast reaching the point where it must have a reliable nuclear warhead for its strategic missile systems if it is to proceed with the development and fielding of its missile program, a program that is important to achieving its national objective of becoming a major power.101
Although a fission device will work well against potential targets in Pakistan, the sprawling urban areas of China warrant thermonuclear warheads that can deliver the big blasts needed to make India's missile program cost effective. Moreover, thermonuclear weapons have much lower weight-to-yield ratios than do fission devices because thermonuclear systems use a small 10-15 kt primary fission device to trigger a fusion secondary pit that can be built to produce blasts in either the kiloton or megaton range.102 Since the deuterium-tritium fusion reaction gives 3.4 times more energy per unit mass than fission,103 a thermonuclear warhead is ideal for missile systems due to their lighter relative weights and higher yields. Without a reliable thermonuclear warhead, India's nuclear capability could be limited to heavier weapons that use larger amounts of fissile material to produce yields below a maximum limit of about 500 kt.104
Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. India has the infrastructure required to develop chemical weapons (CW) and biological weapons (BW), but probably has conducted only research associated with defensive measures.105
Missile Defenses. India is concerned with establishing defenses against Pakistan's missile systems. Although the Indian Akash surface-to-air missile is being developed with an anti-missile capability incorporated, India is seeking a more advanced system. Consequently, it has been negotiating with Russia for an initial purchase of six S-300V (U.S. SA-12B Giant designation) missile systems. The deal apparently will include subsequent licensed production of some additional systems. India claims to want these systems for the defense of New Delhi and Bombay.106
India's Potential As a Source of Proliferation
India is interested in selling defense goods and services, space access (and derived products), and nuclear power plants. In seeking these sales, India has taken action to strengthen and better organize its export operations. As a result, several new organizations have been recently established and charged with the task of increasing India's exports in their respective areas of responsibility. These organizations include:
India Nuclear Power Forum. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India launched this new consortium with the intent of building nuclear power projects in India and abroad.107 As was explained earlier in Figure 4-5, India is not an NPT member, and its PHWRs are excellent plutonium producers that can be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium without detection from collection assets located outside of the power plant (unless special safeguard provisions are established). On the other hand, India's nuclear power plants also are plagued by quality control problems and safety concerns which may limit the appeal of these reactors abroad.108 Unanswered is the question of how India might handle the nuclear safeguard issue on the nuclear reactors and related nuclear fuel-cycle technologies that it might export.
Antrix Corporation of Bangalore. This autonomous organization is the commercial division of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Antrix was created to export space technology. An example of one of its operations was noted earlier with regard to its deal with EOSAT to market Indian satellite photography. Unanswered is the issue of how Antrix (and India) will handle the MTCR guidelines. Considering that India has been a bitter opponent of the MTCR and has had its own missile development program slowed by MTCR restrictions at considerable cost to the Indian government, the possibility exists that India may be willing to export missile technologies restricted under MTCR guidelines — either openly or covertly.
Defense Exports Board. The creation of this board was approved by the Indian Cabinet in September 1995. The new board will be modeled on the Antrix Corporation (discussed above). The board's purpose is to sell weapons and technology produced by the DRDO, state-owned defense manufacturers, and ordnance factories.109
Joint Secretary (Exports), Ministry of Defense. This post is believed to have been created in the early 1990s to coordinate the export of indigenously manufactured weapon systems.110
In an effort to better advertise its defense wares, in September 1994 the Indian Ministry of Defense published the first edition of a new catalogue entitled Indian Defence Products. In the forward, signed by the Defense Minister, prospective customers were directed to address requests for complete information on products to the Joint Secretary (Exports). Of interest is the entry on page 52 of the catalogue lists all of the Prithvi's ancillary equipment and missile fuel as being available for export.111 It is generally believed that the missile itself will be offered for export. Although the Prithvi I's range is probably below the MTCR guidelines (of which India is not a member state), the reported sophistication of its guidance system and the maneuverability of its trajectory may make it an item of interest to other states with indigenous missile development programs. (Note: although the Trishul SAM system was listed as being available, the Agni was not mentioned.)
Long-term, India could prove to be a troublesome source of proliferation. Most of the defense goods that it manufactures are either not in demand, as they represent low-technologies that are available from many sources in excessive quantities, or they are sensitive technologies that the United States is trying to control to slow proliferation. In this sense, India will likely face the same problem that China is facing. If it wants to export defense industrial products, the greatest demand likely will be for missile and nuclear technologies.
Of particular concern is the growing relationship between India and Iran. Both countries have felt abused by the United States; both have needs supplied by the other. Iran needs and is receiving Indian assistance in maintaining its Russian-built Kilo submarines and the other $5 billion in weapon systems that it obtained from Russia under a 1989 agreement.112 On the other hand, with Iran providing India access to Central Asia as well as being India's biggest supplier of oil, Iran is well-positioned to bargain for Indian assistance in missile and nuclear technology. Exacerbating the situation is the simple fact that India has a problem with corruption. Thus, a close relationship between these two states will also provide Iranian officials with added opportunities to gain unofficial access to some of India's more sensitive technologies, technologies they have already shown an interest in obtaining.113
While a number of these potential concerns are but suppositions at this point in time, it cannot be denied that India has a number of technologies that are fast becoming sufficiently advanced to attract the interest of the world's would-be proliferators. It is very possible that leakage of Indian technology could well become a growing issue for future Indo-American relations; it could also prove a very challenging situation with which to deal. Although India is vulnerable to U.S. threats of economic sanctions, this tool may only be effective if it is not actually used. The possibility exists that if the United States should ever impose blanket sanctions, India might assume that it no longer had anything to lose, declare itself a nuclear power, and begin nuclear testing.
India, a land rife with serious internal problems, appears capable of surprising the world by emerging as nuclear capable nation with ICBMs in the 2000-2010 time frame (depending on how much time the program is delayed due to U.S. diplomatic pressure and MTCR impediments). Even if the indigenous development effort is slowed, India has the technological capability of emerging as a nuclear armed power with ICBMs in a window of about 5 to 8 years from the time it makes a decision to do so. In addition, as discussed in Chapter 2, there seems to be some possibility that India might in the future be able to obtain the mobile Topol M ICBMs (SS-X-27s) from Russian sources.
Although it is not believed that India intends to use missile capabilities actually to strike the United States, it may be tempted to wave it as a deterrent gesture in cases where it feels the United States is interfering with its vital national interests. At the same time, India is a poor country that needs economic ties with the United States. Consequently, India would have to feel hard pressed before it engaged in direct confrontational actions. Of perhaps greater concern is the fact that India needs cash, but its options for exporting defense goods to help offset its security costs are limited.
Missiles, software, nuclear technology, and related products are among the most salable defense items that India will soon produce. Although India is not likely to act in a totally irresponsible manner in transferring these technologies, it is conceivable that its definition of acceptable transfers may well differ from that held by the United States. As a complicating factor, corruption in India is a significant problem, which raises the possibility that some of this sensitive technology could be transferred to other parties outside of official channels. Consequently, India could well become a contributing source to the spread of proliferation-related technologies. While the case should not be overstated, there is some risk that the Indo-American friction that may result from this situation could sour relations and push India into aligning its foreign policy with other states that are actively seeking to frustrate U.S. interests in Asia.
— — — —
UNDERSTANDING INDIA'S PLUTONIUM STOCKS: WEAPONS-GRADE VERSUS REACTOR GRADE?
India has two research reactors located at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) that produce weapons-grade plutonium. One is a Canadian designed CIRUS 40 MW heavy water reactor (HWR) that began operation in 1960, while the second, the Dhruva, is a 100 MW heavy water reactor of Indian design that began operating in 1985. These two reactors are of the same type that the United States used for plutonium and tritium production at Savannah River. For calculation purposes, a 30 MW reactor roughly produces enough plutonium to make one nuclear weapon per year. These two reactors provide India with perhaps 30 or more kgs of plutonium each year, enough for an estimated 4-5 nuclear weapons, depending on weapon sophistication, design yield, and degree of purity of its plutonium-239. Using moderately advanced designs, 4.5 to 5 kgs of weapons-grade plutonium with a beryllium reflector can generate the critical mass needed for a nuclear explosion; less advanced designs might require 8 kgs.
Most analysts credit India with having 60-85 nuclear weapons, but a few claim that India holds up to 200 nuclear devices. The difference in estimates is attributable to the unknown status of the plutonium extracted from India's six unsafeguarded heavy-water nuclear power plants.
Uranium fuel rods used for electrical power production are burned in a reactor for three to four years. The plutonium produced is radiated to the point where significant amounts of the Pu-239 initially created absorbs additional neutrons (instead of fissioning). As a result, the residual plutonium mix will consist of 60 percent or less Pu-239, 25 percent or more Pu-240, 10 percent or more Pu-241, and a few percent Pu-242. Since weapons-grade plutonium is at least 93 percent or more Pu-239, with the amount of Pu-240 not exceeding 6 percent, the fuel rods in a reactor have to be changed frequently, about every four months or less, to produce weapons-grade material.
The problem with reactor-grade plutonium is that the Pu-240 spontaneously engages in a high rate of fission (i.e., it is unstable and throws off neutrons). In a kilogram of reactor-grade plutonium the average time between spontaneous fissions is less than a micro-second (one-millionth of a second). When several kgs of reactor grade material are inserted into a nuclear device, the mean time between spontaneous fissions is a fraction of a micro-second, thus introducing a high risk that during implosion, the weapon will begin a nuclear chain reaction sometime after it reaches the prompt-critical state, but before it reaches the optimum implosion state. Consequently, a nuclear weapon with a high percent of Pu-240 will achieve an unpredictable yield that falls somewhere between a low of 1 kt and its calculated expected design yield (since the spontaneous fissioning of the Pu-240 will tend to trigger the nuclear chain reaction prematurely).
The United States sells light water reactors for commercial use. In contrast to heavy water reactors, light water reactors have to be shut down to change their fuel rods. Usually, one-third of the fuel rods are changed during each annual shutdown. Consequently, national intelligence assets are provided with visible evidence that fuel rods are being changed. Due to the shutdown requirement, changing fuel rods in light water reactors is expensive as the system is off-line during fueling operations. As a result, the design provides an its own incentive for keeping the rods in place as long as possible, thus producing reactor-grade plutonium.
However, the Indian reactors are based on the CANDU heavy water reactor design, which do not have to be shut down in order to change fuel rods, nor is there any signature visible outside of the reactor that indicates the fuel rods are being changed. Consequently, it cannot be determined with certainty the size of India's nuclear stockpile, since India could be harvesting weapons-grade plutonium from its commercial power plants by changing some of the fuel rods often.
1 K. P. Nayar, "Article Views U.S. Nuclear Apartheid Policy," Indian Express, transcribed in FBIS-NES-95-244, December 20, 1995, pp. 61-62. Reportedly, the inner circle of the Prime Minister Rao's office had adopted that viewpoint.
5 For a detailed history of the boundary disputes between India and China, see Francis Watson, The Frontiers of China: A Historical Guide (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1966). It appears that India and China may be settling this dispute if the November 1996 agreement between the leaders of these two countries to resolve the issue bears fruit.
8 Hiranmay Karlekar, "Article Views Ties With PRC, U.S. Design," Indian Express, transcribed in FBIS-NES-95-250, December 29, 1995, pp. 52-54. The key issue for such a consortium of powers would be the Indo-Chinese axis. It is questionable that if two states could long cooperate together.
15 R. Ramachandran, "PRC Uranium Sale Seen as Significant Development," Delhi All Indian Radio Network, transcribed in FBIS-NES-95-004, January 6, 1995, p. 37, and Amitabh Mattoo, "India: Strategy on Nuclear Issue Examined," The Telegraph, transcribed in FBIS-NES-97-038, February 24, 1997.
16 Nuclear Proliferation Fact Book, op. cit., p. 502; Office of Technology Assessment, Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction, OTA-BP-ISC-115, (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 1993), p. 182.
20 For more information on India's nuclear program, see Ibid., p. 38; and Biman Basu, "India: Commentary Views Breakthrough Achieved in Nuclear Field," Delhi AllIndia Radia, transcribed in FBIS-NES-96-215, November 3, 1996.
21 India has an estimated 300,000 metric tons of thorium reserves, second only to Australia. Other major deposits are found in the United States, Canada, Norway, Brazil, South Africa, and Malaysia. See U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines, Mineral Commodity Summaries, 1993, p. 181.
28 Seymour M. Hersh, "On the Nuclear Edge," The New Yorker, March 29, 1993, pp. 56-73. Although some Bush administration officials have downplayed the seriousness of the confrontation, the Hersh article contains a report of an interview with Robert Gates (President Bush's on-the-scene representative charged with defusing the situation) that indicates the situation may have been closer to nuclear war than was publicly acknowledged at the time. In addition, follow up findings described by Amitabh Mattoo, "India's Nuclear Status Quo," Survival, Autumn 1996, pp. 44-45 (to include footnotes 22 & 23), seems to substantiate that a crisis occurred, but it may have been less serious than that described by Hersh.
33 "India: Radio Sums Up Vice President's Visit to Iran," All India Radio Network, transcribed in FBIS-NES-96-209, October 27, 1996; and "India: Opening of Ancient Links With Central Asian States Viewed," The Hindu, transcribed in FBIS-NES-96-101, May 21, 1996.
40 For an example of typical Indian comments regarding the 1971 incident and U.S. policy toward India, see Amulya Ganguli, "U.S. in South Asia Tilt Against Democracy," Indian Express, transcribed in FBIS-NES-95-250, December 29, 1995, p. 54.
43 Not all of India's attempts to produce its own weapon systems is turning out successes. Apparently, the Indian Army is very unhappy with the Arjun tank. They claim it is too heavy and that technically it is only about as sophisticated as the Russian T-72 tank, thus not equal to current systems (e.g., the Russian T-80 and the U.S. M-1 Abrams).
44 "India: 1/28/96," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring/Summer 1996, p. 141; and Ali Abbas Rizvi, "Indian Missile Programme," Asian Defence Journal, May 1995, p. 20-23. Most of these systems are 2-4 years or so from being fielded.
48 Duncan Lennox, Editor, Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems, in presentation to George C. Marshall Institute, Washington, DC, July 29, 1996; and "India Developing Sea-Based Missile System," Military and Arms Transfer News, October 7, 1994, p. 12.
54 K.P. Nayar, "Rao Under Pressure To Declare Nation Nuclear Power," Indian Express, transcribed in FBIS-NES-95-250, December 29, 1995, pp. 51-52; and "Political Pressure May Change India's Course On Disarmament," Jane's Defense Weekly, January 31, 1996, pp. 27-28.
64 In a private conversation with a ranking Israeli industrialist, a Washington-based defense analyst was told that the Israeli company was working in India, with indications that the work was extensive, and that Indian satellites have many Israeli components and labor included in their construction. This information was provided to the author on a nonattribution basis.
65 "India," Ballistic Missile Threats: National Briefings," Internet http://www.cdiss.org/countrya.htm#INDIA, September 27, 1996, p. 3. There seem to be hints in many of the publications that, in addition to GPS, India may also be using a "system similar to GPS," i.e., GLONASS?
68 The information on the Prithvi is extracted from Ibid.; "Editorial: India's Missile Program Not Destabilizing," The Times of India, transcribed in FBIS-NES-96-022, February 1, 1996, p. 43; "10/15/95," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring/Summer 1996, p. 171; "India: 2/4/96," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1996, p. 157; John Cunningham, "Third World Missile Proliferation Poses New Threats," The Journal of Social, Political, & Economic Studies, Summer 1994; Ali Abbas Rizvi, "Indian Missile Programme," Asian Defence Journal, May 1995, p. 21; and "India Puts Agni Program On Ice," Jane's International Defense Review, January 1996, p. 5.
72 Ali Abbas Rizvi, "Indian Missile Programme," op. cit., p. 27. "The Nuclear Bomb and the Security of South Asia," Asian Defence Journal, April 1995, p. 27. An Indian report claims that in the last test of the Agni, the missile landed within a 50 meter radius of its intended impact point. See M. Ahmed, "India: Agni Far From Capped, Can Be Deployed in 3 Months," Delhi Business Standard, transcribed in FBIS-NES-96-241, December 12, 1996.
74 See "Missile Forecast, Agni," op. cit., p. 3; "India Puts Agni Program On Ice," op. cit.; Ranjit Kumar, "India: Article Views Necessity for Agni Missile," Navbharat Times, translated in FBIS-NES-96-170, August 28, 1996; and "India," Ballistic Missile Threats: National Briefings," op. cit., p. 3. Note: recently there have been a few vague Indian and Pakistani references to an Agni II system that may have a range of 4500 kms. No other open source information has been yet published on this potential development.
75 "India Vows Not to Deploy Mid-Range Agni Missile," International Harold Tribune, Reuters, December 6, 1996, p. 8; and "India Will Deploy Ballistic Missiles if Threatened," FBIS-NES-96-235, December 6, 1996.
76 "Gawda Assures Full Support For Missile Development, Delhi All Indian Radio Network, transcribed in FBIS-TAC-97-063, March 4, 1997; and "India: Defense Minister: Agni Missile Won't Be Abandoned," The Hindu, transcribed in FBIS-TAC-97-077, March 18,1997
78 See "India," Ballistic Missile Threats: National Briefings," op. cit., p. 3; Ali Abbas Rizvi, "Indian Missile Programme," op. cit., p. 22; "India's Intercontinental Missile Program Criticized," Jang, translated in FBIS-TAC-95-004, July 28, 1995; and "Missile and Space Launch Capabilities of Selected Countries," Nonproliferation Review, Spring/Summer 1996, p. 193.
89 Gayatri Chandrashekhar, "TV On Salient Features," Delhi Doordarshan Television, transcribed in FBIS-NES-95-249, December 28, 1995, p. 37; and K. Kasturirangan, "Aerospace Technologies: A Terrestrial Focus," IEEE Spectrum, March 1994, pp. 39-42.
93 Vivek Raghuvanski, "Technical Snags Frustrate Indian Nuclear Sub Program," Defense News, June 24-30, 1996, p. 40; and "India: Early 1996," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1996, p. 122. Note: there is some confusion as to the type of system and the range capabilities that will be deployed on this submarine. Both ballistic missiles and cruise missiles have been discussed in press reports. Ranges for the weapon system of both 300 kms and 1000 kms have also been reported. See "India Developing Sea-Based Missile System," Military and Arms Transfer News, October 7, 1994, p. 12.
95 David B. Ottaway, "Signs Found India Building An H-Bomb," The Washington Post, May 19, 1989, p. A29; and Ali Abbas Rizvi, "The Nuclear Bomb and Security of South Asia," Asian Defence Journal, April 1995, p. 27.
103 Nuclear Proliferation Factbook, op. cit., p. 477. This reference contains a very complete discussion of nuclear issues and is recommended reading for those who might wish to pursue the technical aspects of nuclear weapons beyond that discussed in this report.
104 W. P. S. Sidhu, "India's Nuclear Tests: Technical and Military Imperatives," op. cit., p. 171. The author claims about 500 kt is the maximum yield that can be achieved with a fission device. An independent check with other nuclear experts confirmed that information.
106 "India with Russia: 2/12/96," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1996, pp. 159-60; Anatoliy Yurkin, "Russia Prepared to Supply S-300 Missile System to India," ITAR-TASS World Service, translated in FBIS-TAC-97-003, March 4, 1997; and Vivek Raghuvanski, "India Mulls Russian Air Defense Deal," Defense News, February 24-March 2, 1997, p. 6.
113 See, for examples, Kenneth R. Timmerman, "Opportunities for Change in Iran," in Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties, ed. Henry Sokolski (Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, September 1996), pp. 232-33; and "India with Iran: 4/17/97," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1995, p. 94.