Genesis of Eden

Genesis Home

NZ Herald

Global Fallout Hits India 13th May 98 Reuters

NEW DELHI Stinging diplomatic fallout rained down on India yesterday for conducting underground nuclear tests, with bitter rival Pakistan warning of a new South Asian arms race and the United States and Japan considering sanctions. The three tests, conducted despite international efforts to arrange a global ban on nuclear testing, triggered swift condemnation. United States President Bill Clinton said he was "deeply distressed" and a formal diplomatic protest would be lodged Delhi. A State Department spokesman, James Rubin, caged the tests a "very negative development" and said Washington was exploring likely sanctions. The Japanese Government said: "It is extremely regrettable that India conducted such tests, resisting the global trend to ban nuclear testing." Officials said Tokyo was considering punishing New Delhi with its own sanctions and that yen loans and aid grants could be frozen. Japan is India's largest foreign aid donor.

The Buddha test site. Prime Minister Vajpayee visits ground zero (Reuters NZ Herald Jun 98).

Pakistan, another threshold nuclear state, pilloried the tests but vowed to rise to India's latest challenge, saying it "reserves the right to take all appropriate measures for its security." The Foreign Minister, Gohar Ayub Khan, said: "India has forced the subcontinent into an arms race, to a nuclear weaponry race and a missile race." The father of Pakistan's nuclear research programme, Abdul Qadeer Khan, said yesterday that a bomb could be assembled within a week and he was waiting for the order to carry out a nuclear test. "We are like a cook waiting for the orders." India had for years endorsed peaceful use of nuclear energy but the Hindu Nationalist-led Government which took office in March had hinted that it was leaving its options open, alarming Islamabad. Temperatures were further raised last month when Muslim Pakistan tested its medium-range "Ghauri" missile.

Atal Behari Vajpayee announces the tests.

But analysts said India's tests may have been intended more as a message to northern neighbour China. China was silent on the tests said its silence raised the question of whether it was planning to resume its own testing. The Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said a strong diplomatic protest would be lodged with India and the top Australian diplomat in New Delhi would be recalled. The United Nations chief, Kofi Annan, expressed "deep regret and said the nuclear trials violated a "de facto moratorium' on such tests set by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996. The German Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, said the tests were a "setback for international efforts to bring about global disarmament and non-proliferation." France stopped short of condemning India but urged it to commit to world test-ban agreements. Meanwhile, Indian newspapers sounded a chorus of jubilation over what they saw as an expression of national pride and security. "Explosion of Self-esteem," rang the headline over a front-page conunentary in the Indian daily Pioneer. Domestic squabbles and economic woes were forgotten as opponents and allies of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which has led a shaky coalition since March, cheered what they saw as a telling nuclear deterrent. "We have to prove that we are not eunuchs," said Bal Thackeray, leader of a militant Hindu party that rules India's richest state, Maharashtra, in partnership with the BJP. News of the three tests came from the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, during a hurriedly-summoned news conference in New Delhi. REUTERS

Protests in Tokyo


30th May 98 Pakistan's Response QUETTA - It was the middle of a hot afternoon when five Pakistani nuclear tests shook the south-western province of Baluchistan with the force of a small earthquake. I was sleeping when there was a masive vibration of a modest intensity waking me up," said Abdul Waheed Baluch, a shopkeeper of the area. 'Because of hot summer, I [had] closed my shop and went to rest for a while when there were sudden explosions.

"All of a sudden I realised that it was not an earthquake but a nuclear explosion, for which preparations were on for weeks, and the whole region was cordoned off." The comparison was apt. The bombs measured 4.7 on the Richter scale, the equivalent of a small earthquake. That was the same Richter measurement as three of the five underground nuclear tests conducted by India two weeks ago. The explosions received widespread popular acclaim in Pakistan but soon afterwards the Government declared a state of emergency, suspending citizens' fundamental rights in an apparent move to tackle hardships expected from international sanctions. However, Pakistan dismissed fears that its economy was not in a position to withstand the sanctions. Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz said his country was ready to face the sanctions but hoped they would not last very long.

Economic aid equivalent to 20 per cent of imports would be immediately affected by the sanctions. "The total loss would be $1.5 billion." Mr Aziz said Pakistan was launching an austerity drive within the Government to cut wasteful spending, increase tax couec- tion through more efficiency, and rely more on national resources. It would also take steps to raise exports and increase agricultural output. Security considerations had far outweighed economic necessity in deciding on nuclear tests becausleof the perceived threat from India. The tests themselves were announced by the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, in a televised address. He said five successful nuclear explosions were carried out in response to the same number of tests by arch-rival India. "We have settled the account of the nuclear blasts by India," he said, referring to New Delhi's three blasts on May 11 and two on May 13. "Today we succesfully carried out five nuclear tests." He offered to resume deadlocked peace talks with India and renewed an offer for a non-aggression pact "on the basis of a just settlement" of the two countries' dispute over the Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir. India's Defence Minister, George Fernandes, dismissed Paidstan's nuclear tests as "ping-pong balls." Meanwhile Britain has called an emergency meeting of nine world powers to discuss measures to prevent nuclear tests. The participants will include the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United States and China. - REUTERS

Greenpeace protesters in Athens

Security alert and Peace motions June 1-4 98

Pakistan: Pakistan explodes one further test and claims it had a security alert that India was planning an attack on its nuclear enrichment plant at Kahuta near Islamabad, but has now withdrawn its Gahuri missiles from front positions.

India: India wants for talks to defuse nuclear tensions. "India calls on all nuclear weapon states and the international community to join with it in opening early negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention so that these weapons can be dealt with in a global non-discriminatory framewaork as the other two types of weapons have been through the Biological Weapons convention and Chemical Weapons Convention".

India said that it was also willing to move to a 'de jure' formaulation of the declaration made by the Prime Minister that New Delhi will observe a voluntary moratorium and refrain from conducting further tests.

Pakistani paper says "We will destroy India" Sci Am Aug 98

Pakistan: Pakistan is developing a new long-range missile to carry nuclear warheads and is capable of building nuclear weapons "within days" say the country's leading scientists. Dr. Samar Mobarik Mund said the Shaheen II (eagle) missile with a range of 2000 km would be ready within a year. The Shaheen I with a range of 700 km would be ready within days.

India: India declares it is planning to advance the next stage of its Agni missile with a longer range of up to 2,500 km providing a deterrent against both China and Pakistan.

Meanwhile the US's new role as sole superpower and world policeman unravels further.

Russian Deal

June 1998 Russia completes an agreement to supply India with a large nuclear power station, its first despite the G7 stand against the nuclear testing.

DEADLYSECRETS As India and Pakistan demonstrated, military nuclear know-bow is spreading with frightening ease Sci Am Aug 98 7

Although observers have presumed for years that India and Pakistan had nuclear arsenals, the 11 nuclear detonations on the Indian subcontinent in May heralded a new level of tension between foes that have fought three conventional wars in their 51 -year history as independent nations. More broadly, however, the development is illustrative of the challenges facing the international community as it seeks to halt global nuclear proliferation. India and Pakistan, which took widely divergent routes to their bombs, have shown how hard it is to deny simple but effective nuclear weaponry even to relatively poor countries, how easy it is to rend the fragile de facto moratorium on the use of these munitions and how difficult it becomes to help a developing nation build nuclear reactors while ensuring that none of the aid is put to military use. The Indian and Pakistani tests should not have been a surprise. They have roots, in fact, extending back to the early years of the nuclear era. In the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s, both India and Pakistan participated in nuclear cooperation efforts, most notably the Atoms for Peace program begun by the U.S. Under this program, the U.S. provided critical blueprints, know-how and components for a plant at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Trombay, just north of Bombay, for reprocessing the spent fuel from nuclear reactors. Reprocessing uses a series of complex industrial-chemical processes to remove from spent fuel variant forms of elements, called isotopes, that can be reused in reactors. Essentially the same processes, though, can be used to extract the plutonium isotope 239-the key ingredient in the core of the most common types of nuclear bombs. In fact, the Trombay reprocessing plant, which was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was based on a process called Purex, originally developed in the U.S. to separate weapons plutonium. Before nuclear materials can be reprocessed, they must first be irradiated in a reactor to create plutonium. And here, too, India got assistance from the West. In the late 1950s Canada provided a research reactor called Cirus. Significantly, the reactor was a type that used so-called heavy water (enriched iii the hydrogen isotope deuteriuni) rather than ordinary (or "light") water to lessen the energy of neutrons in the reactor's core. According to John C. Courtney, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Louisiana State University, this feature suited it to producing bomb-grade plutonium 239 from uranium 238, which is abundant in easily produced uranium oxide fuel. Using the (Cirus reactor and the Trombay facility, Indian scientists and engineers accumulated enough plutonium to build an atomic bomb, which was detonated in 1974. After that test, India lost all external support for its nuclear prograni, leaving the country on its own, for the most part, in its iiliclear efforts. Indian engineers and scientists built the'tr own lieavy-water reactors, modeled on the Canadian design, as well as their own reprocessing facilities. And in 1985 a relatively large plutoniuiii-producing reactor called Dhruva began operating at Troinbay The Indian program did not stop there. According to proliferation experts, the country has also built a plant near Mysore to produce tritium-used in thermonuclear reactions (which exploit the nuclear fusion of tritium and deuterium) and in "boosting" the yields of less powerful fission bombs. India also reportedly constructed a plant to produce uranium highly enriched in the 235 isotope, which can also be used in concocting nuclear devices. But the focus of the country's nuclear program rests on plutonium. Peter L. Heydemann, the well-connected former science attach6 at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, estimates that by using Dhruva and other reactors India accumulated some 1.2 tons of plutonium, which could yield dozens if not hundreds of bombs, depending on the program's technical sophistication. With lavish government funding and a large pool of top scientific and engineering talent, India's nuclear establishnient swelled in the 1980s to become the only one in the developing world that encompasses all aspects of what is known as the nuclear fuel cycle, from the mining of uranium ores to the construction of reactors. Although its nuclear talent pool is by all accounts large and impressive, India's claim that one of the three nuclear devices tested on May 1 1 was a true thermonuclear device was met with skepticism. Such a device exploits nuclear fusion to achieve explosive yields that can be thousands of times greater than those of fission devices. Indian officials said that the purported theri-nonuclear device had an explosive yield of 43 kilotons. But outside experts, using seismic data, have estimated that the yield may have been as low as 25 kilotons. By thermonuclear standards, these values are rather small. Given the history of deceit in nuclear weapons programs, many observers have suggested that the Indians tested a boosted-fission device rather than a true thermonuclear bomb or that they tested a thermonuclear weapon that turned out to be a dud. Yet Theodore B. Taylor, a former thermonuclear weapons designer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, says it is possible the Indians opted for a low yield in part because "it would be a more severe t6st. It's harder to be accurate in predicting the behavior of a smaller weapon." He also notes that the U.S. has produced tactical thermonuclear weapons in the past with yields in the tens of kilotons. In contrast to India's heavy reliance on plutonium-based weapons, Pakistan's nuclear program is-for now-built entirely around the use of uranium 235. The isotope, which accounts for 0.72 percent of natural uranium, is separated from the useless 238 form in high-performance centrifuges at the Kahuta research center near Islamabad. The man now hailed as the father of Pakistan's bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan, smuggled plans for the centrifuges in the 1970s from a Dutch company, Ultra-Centrifuge NederlandCompared with plutonium, uranium has a key disadvantage as a bomb material: the critical mass needed is substantially larger, making it harder to fashion into warheads that can be launched on missiles. U.S. intelligence indicates that Pakistan's bombs were relatively simple Chinese pure-fission del signs. Such bombs would need more than 15 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium (material containing at least 93 percent of the 235 isotope). Plutonium-based bombs, in contrast, can make do with as little as three to six kilograms of fissile material. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington, D.C., estimates that Pakistan could by now have produced enough weapons-grade uranium at Kahuta for up to 29 bombs, with the total growing by five each year. Pakistan apparently chose uranium because during the 1970s international safeguards thwarted its attempts to separate plutonium covertly from irradiated fuel. This past April, however, Pakistan said it had commissioned a new reactor at Khushab in the province of Puniab that is not subject to safeguards. According to ISIS, Pakistan should within a few years be able to produce 10 to 15 kilograms of plutonium a year. The country already has reprocessing capability, so it could in the future supplement its uranium bombs with lighter plutonium ones. Diplomatic efforts to avert a catastrophe in the Indian subcontinent will now focus on persuading both of the newly declared nuclear powers to refrain from manufacturing warheads and especially from placing them on missiles, which could strike each other's cities within minutes. Missile technology is well advanced in the region-thanks in part to U.S. supercomputers that IBM and Digital Equipment Corporation supplied to India, according to Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. The best possible outcome, Milhollin says, would be one in which India and Pakistan are persuaded to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and give up the bomb. But in the near future, the chances are not great. The world should hope both belligerents have established effective controls on their deadly new toys. -Glenn Zorpette, with Tim Beardsley in Washington, D.C.

Signs of reconciliation after a personal meeting between the Pakistani and Indian Prime Ministers, despite 30 deaths during protests and Kashmir showing no signs of a settlement.