Wednesday, April 22, 2015

India's Nuclear-Weapons Program: 5 Things You Need to Know

There is a tl;dr article at the National Interest.

Here is a much simpler summary.

India's nuclear weapons program.

1) How many? - Unknown. Estimates vary from 1-1000 depending on who you ask.

2) How big? - A 45 kT yield (3 times Hiroshima/Nagasaki) has been demonstrated in 1998 in non-weaponized configuration.

3) Why? - Who cares!

4) Will they use them? - Yes - if PM Narendra Modi wants that.

5) Safety? - Rendered unsafe only if PM Modi miscalculates and asks for pits to be inserted into physics packages.


At 9:23 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

So what is the point here?

India has nukes. An accomplished fact. Nothing is going to change that.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I figured I wasn't the only one tired of reading long articles.

At 7:05 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hopefully people somewhere will still remember that part about pits and packages being separated.

These days... honestly you have no idea who is paying attention to what.

Perception and reality have seem to be growing increasingly divorced.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

Launch on an itchy trigger finger? No. But nobody doubts India can retaliate. I don't see anybody doubting that.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Can I ask a stupid question?

I know Chinese strategic planners are grand masters etc.. etc... I am well versed with the lore of the middle kingdom.

But can someone with a deeper understanding of the Chinese thinking please tell me what their end game is?

If they want to be No 1 in the world, then they should know from their own experience that all that sets you up for a steady level of perpetual insults.

If they want to be No 1 in the world after the US... umm... they are there already. So what is next?

I am terribly confused.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

They don't really care. They are totally into the Han people thing. Most ancient, most accomplished, and twice as smart as everybody else. Very similar to your average Hindutva.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi Ralphy,

I guess the question is better posed to the 2nd Arty division types.

I can see them wanting to create a situation where a credible regime of deterrence is created that prevents the outbreak of a great war, but once that exists - what is next?

- borrow money at favorable interest rates? and who is going to buy that debt?

- achieve American standards of living? - firstly do resources exist in the world for that kind of thing? And secondly - is the 2nd Arty Division comfortable handing out that much freedom to a billion Chinese?

This is where I find myself scratching my head.

Yes Han/Hindutva/etc... etc... uber allez... aah.. but then what?

At 11:40 AM, Blogger maverick said...

>> Launch on an itchy trigger finger? No.

No - as long as no pits are inserted into physics packages - otherwise per the owner of the Rambharose Tea Stall anything is possible. I wouldn't take him seriously but apparently his cousin owns a bullock cart and he thinks he will be in big money the day this actually happens.

Per public record, there are only two times in Indian history that a pit has been mated with a physics package of known viability and that was in 1998. Both packages spent something like a hour or so above ground before emplacement in a shaft by the 58th Engineers.

It was the longest hour in India's history, and I don't think more than a handful of Indians are even aware of it.

>> But nobody doubts India can retaliate. I don't see anybody doubting that.

Actually Hon. Webmaster had lots of doubts. From what I understand he was not alone.

These people worry me.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

[i] achieve American standards of living? - firstly do resources exist in the world for that kind of thing?[/i]

We have to be careful when using Malthusian economic arguments. Resources are essentially limitless when technology is applied. And technology will be greater and greater unless we slip into a dark age.

Right now the US, maybe the most aggressive and effective capitalist society in the world, and we have a surfeit of goods and services with not that much growth in demand. We're swamped with goods and services from around the world. So it's not supply, it's attitude and cultural inhibitions that keep a limited horizon.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

>> And secondly - is the 2nd Arty Division comfortable handing out that much freedom to a billion Chinese?

Aye, there's the rub. the Chinese are a top down hierarchial society some what similar to the Russians in their belief in a single strong man leader.

The Chinese have a huge cultural thing about everybody thinking and doing the same way. So I'm not sure freedom is a relevant question.

At 3:18 AM, Blogger maverick said...

That is what I meant by American standards of living, where there is enough technology that bad choices of resource utilization can be made with no thought to the consequences.

If the Chinese want to live like the Americans do - then there really aren't enough resources in the world for that kind of thing.

If the Chinese attempt to live like Americans do, and secure the necessary resources for their lifestyle - there will global fights for everything from water to carbon based energy sources.

This is the same problem that existed in Europe pre WWI, everyone wanted to be a colonial power like Britain or France or Netherlands - the problem there simply wasn't enough world to go around - so the Kaiser and Hitler thought it was easier to invade France and take their colonies.

The same will happen with the Chinese and the US if this "me-too-American" stuff drives Chinese policy.

At 3:19 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Technology can solve some problems - not all. Even if technology exists absorption rates can be very low due to cultural factors.

Malthus remains valid in the limit that the rate of conflict generation outstrips technology absorption.

At 1:34 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

Saabeen Mahmud has been assasinated in Pakistan. Muslim fundamentalist are truly a curse upon thus earth.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I watched an interesting documentary on WWI. It is called 14. It is based on first person accounts and diaries of people that lived through the period. The documentary was quite instructive as it laid out in great detail (perhaps unintentionally) the anatomy of the war.

It appears that the war was initiated with misbegotten ideas of military maneuver. The military leadership on both sides did not appreciate that the growth of artillery technology had invalidated the horse borne charge and the march of infantry as tactical maneuver.

This realization hit home sometime after the battle of Somme when 24000 men lost their lives in less than an hour of battle.

After that period, the trench warfare system took hold but then the resources needed to suppress enemy movement via artillery became too intense. This is ultimately what led to the collapse of Germany- the cost of making shells was high and metal supply outstripped demand.

The entire war appears to have been won in a single engagement at Amiens. The British demonstrated the successful use of tanks in large numbers to drive through the German trenches. In three days they smashed a hole 10 miles wide and 7 miles deep in the German lines. The high casualties on the German side, coupled with the realization that metal supplies for artillery shells were low - prompted an atmosphere of growing terror which weakened German resolve to prevail in the conflict.

The metal shortage had created a famine inside Germany and when the military class failed in its resolve - the Germans collapsed.

At 7:19 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Right now.

There appear to be four major flash points in Delhi.


Bawana/JJ Colony.



Traditionally communally sensitive but now high level flashpoints for much more.

At 7:08 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I saw a TV series from the BBC called "The World's War". It was about how the participation of colonial troops and support staff in the trenches of France created a revolution in racial relations.

It was well made and the producers rightly focused on as many first person sources of information. I feel the conclusions reached by the documentary filmmakers are essentially sound i.e.

1) the pace of industrial warfare dictated a manpower be imported from the colonies.

2) As these colonial soldiers were specifically asked to murder Europeans, it corroded the monopoly that Europeans had exerted on murdering each other.

3) Once the monopoly was gone and murder of Europeans by non-European("inferior") peoples' was legitimized, the moral foundation of the colonial system was gone.

4) Additionally the death of large numbers of European troops in WWII created a manpower shortage which made policing the colonies more reliant on local collaborators. This degraded the power that Europe held on its colonies.

5) The fluctuation in industrial output in Europe by the war caused far greater instability than any supply side issues in the colonies. This caused the importance of the colonies to decline and eventually paved the way for the end of colonialism.


At 7:28 AM, Blogger maverick said...

contd from prev.

I did have a few issues with the documentary.

1) The entire presentation was slanted by the subaltern perspective. It was made to seem that the martial/warrior races theory was invented by the British. This is nonsense, India had that kind of thinking long before the Brits ever heard of India. The entire caste system had one whole category set aside for "warrior castes". The Brits simply came along and scratched off the word "Brahmins" from the top of the hierarchy and scribbled the word "British" in its place. That was the extent of innovation involved.

2) Regarding the innocents killed in Africa - yes it was quite high. But compared to the general carnage that was inflicted in the age of slavery on Africa, I am afraid it was not very much. I feel Belgium inflicted more damage on Congo during the slave trade period than anything those idiotic offensives in German East Africa did.

3) I did feel that the reprehensible attitude of the US Army leadership towards African American soldiers was correctly captured, but again in all honesty, this is not an institution known for its tolerance of diversity.
This part of the documentary was I felt overladen with excessive amounts of the "we-Europeans-are-so-much-more-awesome-than-these-Americans" stuff you see in the press out there.

On the whole, I would give the documentary a "B". It would have served the film makers to seek out post-colonial perspectives (as opposed to only subaltern ones). I mean it was ridiculous to have an entire hour on Indian soldiers in France without a single interview with an Indian Army officer. They didn't even interview the IA flag officer who was present at the Ypres remembrance event.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Ralphy said...

Europe was basically broke after WWII. No more massive military spending for them. At least not on the level that the US would continue to maintain. Britain was on food rationing for a number years following WWII. And needless to say, WWI almost wiped out a generation of Britain's young men, a so called "army of Lions lead by braying asses".

It is interesting to note that after WWI the "war to end all wars", the US dropped to the 32nd largest army in the world. Before WWII started the Czechloslavkian army was larger than the US. After WWII, no way buddy. Not going down that road again. The US continued the draft until 1973 or thereabouts. The level of continued US military spending and preparedness is beyond historical perspective.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

Mav, is the bloodletting in Pak significant or the usual turf war?

At 3:50 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Nanana,

Still poking to see if there are more details but after Pakistan refused to join KSA in its fight against "Iranian backed" Houthi rebels in Yemen, some Sunni groups might have felt that the Shia of Pakistan were gaining too much influence. This would naturally set the stage for "putting them in their place".

I find it - not terribly unexpected - that a conflict in Arab world spills over like this into the streets of Pakistan.

It is a toxic byproduct of the arabization of Pakistani national identity.

Even more bloodletting will ensue if Pakistan makes it nuclear arms pact with the House of Saud public.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger maverick said...

To be more blunt, Iranian strategists will most likely see all talk of an overt arrangement between Pakistan and KSA on nuclear security a provocation aimed at derailing the US-Iran deal.

The Iranian strategists will react with immense hostility towards Pakistan and then innocents will die on Pakistan's street as the Iranians encourage the Shia to stand their ground to Sunni aggression.

With insecurity in the house of Saud at high levels over the new arrangement between President Obama and President Rouhani, the price of stupidity will be written in Pakistani blood.

At 3:07 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I am sorry the last line should read

"the price of stupidity will be paid in Pakistani blood."


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