Monthly Archives: September 2013

First Indo-US commercial nuclear deal

Nuclear diplomacy: First Indo-US commercial deal as Singh-Obama meet

Sep 28, 2013 – First Post

Washington: India and the US have reached the first commercial agreement on civilian nuclear power, five years after a landmark deal between the two countries was clinched.

Addressing a joint media interaction after talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Barack Obama disclosed that the two countries have sealed the agreement.

“We’ve made enormous progress on the issue of civilian nuclear power, and in fact, have been able to achieve just in the last few days an agreement on the first commercial agreement between a US company and India on civilian nuclear power,” Obama said.


India’s nuclear operator NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited) and US firm Westinghouse have signed an agreement that will pave the way for setting up an atomic plant in India.

However, there was no word on the tough nuclear liability clause in the Indian laws over which the US firms had strong objections.

There was a major uproar in India last week over the agreement because of apprehensions that it entailed bypassing the Civil Nuclear Liability Law in place in the country by waiving the operator’s right to recourse with the supplier.

Reiterating his commitment for strong ties, Obama said India is not just a regional, but also a global power.

Prime Minister Singh reciprocated the feelings, saying US is as an indispensable partner for India.

“India, as a significant not just regional power but world power, has worked closely with us on a whole range of issues from climate change to how we can help feed the world, alleviate poverty and deal with disease,” Obama told reporters in his Oval Office following their hour-long meeting.

Praising the Prime Minister for his leadership in strengthening India-US ties, Obama said Singh has been a great friend and partner to the United States and to him personally.

“Across the board, Prime Minister Singh has been an outstanding partner,” Obama said, adding that India continues to grow at an amazing rate, but obviously there are a lot of people in India that are still trapped in poverty.

He said US is a strong partner to help India realise that vision because if there is a strong India, that is good for the world and it’s ultimately good for the US.

In his remarks, Singh said Obama has imparted a powerful impetus to that process of the two countries being on the same page.

“I’ve always believed that India and America are indispensable partners. During the time that I have been Prime Minister, and particularly during the time that President Obama and I have worked together, I think President Obama has made an outstanding contribution to strengthening, widening and deepening of our cooperation in diverse ways,” he said.

Singh said India and America are working together to build on the cooperation and widening, and deepening it in diverse directions.

“We are cooperating in expanding the frontiers of trade investment in technology. Our bilateral trade today is USD 100 billion. Investments in India are USD 80 billion. And they are growing, despite the slowdown in the global economy,” Singh said, referring to the increasing trade between the two sides.

“Outside the area of trade technology and investment, we are exploring avenues of cooperation in new areas like energy cooperation, clean coal technology, energy-efficient technology, cooperation in the field of environment, cooperation in the field of defense and security-related, cooperation with regard to the intelligence gathering and counterterrorism. In all these areas, India needs the United States to be standing by our side,” Singh said.

Manmohan, Obama to meet amid U.S. concerns over liability law

The Hindu


Narayan Lakshman

Hours before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh landed in the U.S. to hold what is likely to be his final official meeting with President Barack Obama, a senior administration official said the White House continued to have “specific concerns” regarding India’s nuclear liability law.

In a background call with the media, the official however firmly pushed back on any notion that the bilateral relationship had “plateaued,” arguing that Friday’s Oval Office meeting between the two heads of government would be a “short working visit” that would address a wide range of bilateral issues and set out a roadmap for the path ahead into the 21st century, that would also consider the post-2014-elections scenario in India.

While progress with the landmark civilian nuclear energy agreement slowed after India adopted the nuclear liability law, the signing of a “pre-early-works agreement” between nuclear supplier companies in the U.S. and India’s nuclear operator, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), appeared imminent on the eve of Mr. Singh’s visit.

However, there does not appear to be any official planned timeframe within which an actual deal could be inked between U.S. nuclear suppliers and the NPCIL, which could lead to the production of safe nuclear energy within the terms of Indian law.

The administration official this week said that in a complex relationship such as the one that existed between New Delhi and Washington, there would always be areas where “room for more progress,” existed, and in this case those areas include concerns that the U.S. government and corporations have regarding certain Indian economic policies.

While the Obama administration has pointed out that “contentious issues” of the past, including nuclear energy, defence, and clean energy cooperation, were now “centre-pieces” of the relationship today, India is also likely to use the occasion of Mr. Singh’s visit to flag its concerns.

Specifically, New Delhi has continued to worry about the potential adverse impact that the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently working its way through the U.S. Congress could have on businesses employing skilled Indian workers.

In this regard, the White House pushed back this week saying that Indian nationals were the largest recipients of H-1B and L1 visas by a wide margin and, contrarily, the legislation under consideration brings significant benefits to Indian nationals.

It would also appear likely that the Indian delegation will push back on the increasingly strident calls by the U.S. for India to fall in line with the Montreal Protocol and scale back Indian companies’ use of refrigerant gases.

Earlier, The Hindu broke the news that if India yielded to the U.S. demand, which officials reportedly said Mr. Obama might personally bring up in his meeting with Mr. Singh, it would have to adopt alternative technologies that were 20 times more costly, mainly proprietary to a few U.S.-based companies, and in some cases “untested for safety.”

Although The Hindu has also broken a series of news items on the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance of Indian establishments, including India’s diplomatic posts in the U.S., neither side appeared to indicate that any further discussion of this matter would take place during Mr. Singh’s visit.

Mr. Singh’s visit to the capital will be relatively short. After meeting Mr. Obama on Friday morning, both leaders will give brief statements to the media but are unlikely to take any questions. Mr. Obama will host a luncheon for Mr. Singh.

The final switch: Goldsboro, 1961


The Nuclear Secrecy Blog

Posted September 27th, 2013 by Alex Wellerstein

The threat of nuclear weapons accidents isn’t a new one. Even in 1945, Los Alamos physicists sweated when contemplating all that could possibly go wrong with their bombs, if they went off at the wrong place or the wrong time. Or didn’t go off at all. That’s the bind, really: a nuclear state wants a weapon that always goes off exactly when you tell it to, and never goes off any other time. That’s a hard thing to guarantee, especially when the stakes are so high in both directions, and especially since these two requirements can be directly in tension.

Schlosser - Command and Control book

I recently heard Eric Schlosser give that elegant formulation at a talk he gave last week in support of the release of his new book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. I haven’t had a chance to read the book, yet (it’s currently en route), but I’m looking forward to it. I read Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation a decade (!) ago and found it completely eye-opening. But I went to his talk last week not sure what to expect. From McDonald’s to nuclear weapons accidents? Stranger things have happened, but I worried that maybe he would take the “easy” route with regards to the accidents, not bothering to learn to nitty-gritty technical details that let one talk about such things sensibly, or, at the very least, sensationalize the findings. So I was pretty pleased to find that neither seemed to be the case. Schlosser has seriously done his homework, spending 6 years digging through records, FOIAing documents, and interviewing weapons designers. His discussion of the risks seemed right on the mark so far as I could tell — they don’t need to be exaggerated one bit to be perfectly horrifying. He answered questions expertly, even a tough, devil’s-advocate one from Hugh Gusterson. So I’ve been looking forward to reading the full book.

Last week, the Guardian released a new document, obtained by Schlosser through a FOIA request, regarding one particular accident, the 1961 crash of a B-52 near Goldsboro, North Carolina, which resulted in the jettisoning of two Mark-39 hydrogen bombs. The document in question is a government nuclear expert’s evaluation of a popular account of the Goldsboro accident, in which he finds some major errors (like overstating the yield of the bomb), but ultimately concludes that at least one of the bombs was, in fact, pretty damned close to accidental detonation: “one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe … It would have been bad news – in spades.

The bomb in question, stuck in the mud.

The bomb in question, stuck in the mud.

I’ve been watching how the above document has been discussed by people on the web. The most interesting response has been people saying, “I thought that bomb lacked a nuclear core?” You know that there have been too many nuclear weapons accidents when people start getting them confused with one another. The missing-bomb-that-maybe-lacked-a-core is the 1958 Tybee bomb, where a Mark-15 hydrogen bomb was lost near Savannah, Georgia. Different bomb, different day.

The other response I commonly saw was one that assumed that any such fears of a bomb going off accidentally were exaggerated. Now this is kind of an interesting response. For the one thing, they’re discounting a contemporary, internal, once-classified evaluation made by a relevant expert. In exchange, they’re parroting either general skepticism at the idea that a nuclear weapon could technically be unsafe, or they are parroting a standard line about how hard it is to set off an implosion bomb accidentally, because all of the lenses need to detonate at exactly the same time. Which is sometimes the right approach (though not all American bomb designs were “one-point safe” — that is, there were designs that ran a real risk of producing a nuclear yield even if just one of the explosive lenses accidentally fired), but in this case, it’s entirely irrelevant, for reasons I’ll explain below.

I’ve been in touch with Schlosser since the talk, and he shared with me a video he had (somehow) gotten his hands on produced by Sandia National Laboratory (the weapons lab that specializes in making bombs go off at just the right moment) about the Goldsboro accident. He’s put it up on YouTube for me to share with you. It is only a few minutes long and worth the watch.


I love the CGI — “all the sudden, now that weapon system is free.” The bomb looks so… liberated. And the part at the end, where they talk about how they had plenty of opportunities for future data, because there were so many accidents, is wonderfully understated. But the stuff that really hits you in your gut is the description of exactly what happened:

“All of the sudden now that weapon system [the Mk-39] is free. As the weapon dropped, power was now coming on, and the arming rods were pulled, the baroswitches began to operate. The next thing on the timing sequence was for the parachute to deploy. When it hit the ground, it tried to fire.” “There was still one safety device that had not operated. And that one safety device was the pre-arming switch which is operated by a 28 volt signal.” “Some people could say, hey, the bomb worked exactly like designed. Others can say, all but one switch operated, and that one switch prevented the nuclear detonation.” “Unfortunately there had been some 30-some incidents where the ready-safe switch was operated inadvertently. We’re fortunate that the weapons involved at Goldsboro were not suffering from that same malady.”

What’s amazing about the above, in part, is that everything in quotation marks is coming from Sandia nuclear weapons safety engineers, not anti-nuclear activists on the Internet. This isn’t a movie made for public consumption (and I’ve been assured that it is not classified, in case you were wondering). It’s a film for internal consumption by a nuclear weapons laboratory. So it’s hard to not take this as authoritative, along with the other aforementioned document. Anyone who brushes aside such concerns as “hysterical” is going to have to contend with the fact that this is what the nuclear weapons designers tell themselves about this accident. Which is pretty disconcerting.

There are further details in another document sent to me by Schlosser, a previously-classified review of nuclear weapons accidents from 1987 that clarifies that one of the reasons the Goldsboro bomb in particular almost detonated was because of the way it was tossed from the aircraft, which removed a horizontally-positioned arming pin. That is, an arming pin was supposed to be in a position that it couldn’t be removed accidentally, but the particulars of how violently the aircraft broke up as it crashed were what armed the bomb in question. The other bomb, the one whose parachute didn’t fire, just had its HE detonate while it was in the mud. From the 1987 review:

Before the accident, the manual arming pin in each of the bombs was in place. Although the pins required horizontal movement for extraction, they were both on a lanyard to allow the crew to pull them from the cockpit. During the breakup, the aircraft experienced structural distortion and torsion in the weapons bay sufficient to pull the pin from one of the bombs, thus arming the Bisch generator. The Bisch generator then provided internal power to the bomb when the pullout cable was extracted by the bomb falling from the weapons bay. The operation of the baroswitch arming system, parachute deployment, timer operation, low and high voltage thermal batteries activation, and delivery of the fire signal at the impact by the crush switch all followed as a natural consequence of the bombing falling free with an armed Bisch generator. The nonoperation of the cockpit-controlled ready-safe switch prevented nuclear detonation of the bomb. The other bomb, which free-fell, experienced HE detonation upon impact. One of the secondary subassemblies was not recovered.

The secondary subassembly is the fusion component of the hydrogen bomb. Normally I would not be too concerned with a lost secondary in and of itself, because bad folks can’t do a whole lot with them, except that in this particular bomb, the secondary contained a significant amount of high-enriched uranium, and lost HEU is never a good thing. The government’s approach to this loss was to get an easement on the land in question that would stop anyone from digging there. Great…

Mk-39 ready-safe switch

From the video, I was also struck by the picture of the ready-safe switch then employed. I’d never seen one of these before. Presumably “S” means “safe” and “A” means “armed.” It looks ridiculously crude by modern standards, one little twirl away from being armed. This little electronic gizmo was all that stood between us and a four megaton detonation? That’s a wonderful thing to contemplate first thing in the morning. Even the later switches which they show look more crude than I’d prefer — but then again, probably all 1950s and 1960s technology is going to look crude to a modern denizen. And again, just to reiterate, we’re not talking about “merely” accidentally igniting the explosives on the primary bomb — we’re talking about the bomb actually sending a little electrical charge through the firing circuit saying “Fire!” and starting the regular, full-yield firing sequence, stopped only by this little gizmo. A little gizmo prone to accidentally firing, in some of the bombs.

Lest you think that perhaps Sandia overstates it (which seems rather unlikely), take also the testimony of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara into account. In January of 1963, McNamara explained at a meeting between the Defense and State Departments that he was opposed to Presidential pre-delegation of nuclear weapons in part because of the danger of accidental detonation — either ours or the Soviets’. In the meeting notes, posted some time back by the National Security Archive and forwarded to me by Schlosser, McNamara’s participation is listed as follows:

Mr. McNamara went on to describe the possibilities which existed for an accidental launch of a missile against the USSR. He pointed out that we were spending millions of dollars to reduce this problem to a minimum, but that we could not assure ourselves completely against such a contingency. Moreover he suggested that it was unlikely that the Soviets were spending as much as we were in attempting to narrow the limits of possible accidental launch. He went on to describe crashes of US aircraft[,] one in North Carolina and one in Texas, where, by the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted.

This one’s interesting because it embeds these accidents in a context as well — the possibility of either us, or the Soviets, accidentally launching a nuke and wondering if a full-scale nuclear exchange has to follow. It’s not quite Strangelovian, since that would require a rogue commander, but it is very Fail-Safe.

As to what the Goldsboro blast would look like, the only time we tested this warhead at full yield was the shot “Cherokee” at Operation Redwing, in 1958. It was a pretty big boom, far more impressive than some of the Hiroshima shots that have been posted along with the Goldsboro story:


And, of course, you can use the NUKEMAP to chart the damage. I’ve added the W-39 warhead to the list of presets in NUKEMAP2, using 4 megatons as the yield (the tested yield was 3.8 megatons, though the W-39 is often stated as an even 4. I rounded up, just because quibbling over 200 kilotons seemed pointless), and a fission fraction of 55%. It’s a pretty big explosion, with a fallout plume capable of covering tens of thousands of square miles with hazardous levels of contamination (and nearly a thousand square miles with fatal levels). Note that the Cherokee test was a true airburst (the fireball didn’t touch the ground), and so didn’t generate any significant fallout. The Goldsboro bomb, however, was meant to operate on impact, as a surface burst, and would have created significant fallout.

Again, one doesn’t have to exaggerate the risks to find it unsettling. The bomb didn’t go off, that final switch thankfully did work as intended. But that’s cold comfort, the more you learn about the accident. Our current nuclear weapons are much safer than the Mk-39 was, back in 1961, though Schlosser thinks (following the testimony of experts) there are still some unsettling aspects about several of our weapons systems. If we are going to have nukes, he reasons, we should be willing to spend whatever it costs to make sure that they’ll be safe. That seems to me like an argument guaranteed to appeal to nobody in today’s current political climate, with the left-sorts wanting no nukes and no modernization, and the right-sorts not really wanting to talk about safety issues. But I’ll get to that more another day, once I’ve read the book.

If that bomb had gone off, we’d speak of “Goldsboro” as a grim mnemonic, in the same way that we do “Chernobyl” today. One wonders how that would have changed our approach to nuclear weapons, had the final switch not held strong.

Indo-US Nuclear Deal: From Farce to Skullduggery?

19 Sep 2013 – Dianuke

Either practicing deception as is its wont or under sustained pressure from the US government-business combine, the Manmohan Singh government is looking to use the ‘manufactured’ opinion of the Attorney-General of India to effectively sabotage a key provision of India’s nuclear liability law that would hold American reactor suppliers liable in the event of an accident caused by faulty or defective equipment. Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is working overtime on this, ably assisted by RK Sinha, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Nuclear establishment has even gone to the extreme extent of bypassing the Atomic Energy Commission and go straight to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to clear the proposal.

As is well known this Attorney General is a highly controversial person known for his flip-flops and his ‘opinion’ can be customized and tailor-made to suit the requirement! In this case AG has endorsed the view expressed by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in an internal note that “a right was given to the operator to have recourse against the supplier but there was no mandatory obligation or requirement for the operator to do so and that the operator could choose not to exercise that right.” Taking shelter behind this ‘customised opinion’ government is pressurising Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) to sign a ‘working agreement’ with Westinghouse Electric Company to buy the 6000 MW Mithi Virdi (Gujarat) nuclear reactor for Rs. 90,000 crores by making a token payment of about Rs. 100 crores! They want this to be done before Manmohan Singh goes to Washington on September 27, to pay obeisance to US President Barack Obama. Remember what he did with George Bush some years ago after signing the Indo-US Nuclear Deal (“the whole of India loves you!”)

According to sources, the NPCIL, the plant owner and operator, considers the ‘working deal’ unfair since it waives off the right to recourse on part of the supplier. NPCL is reluctant to limit the liability on part of the US-based supplier because if a Fukushima-type tragedy occurs in this nuclear plant the Indian tax-payer would have to bear the cost of death and destruction which could be as much if not more than the estimated Fukushima accident cost of USD 50-70 billion (staggering Rupees 3 lakh to 4.2 lakh crores). But PMO, MEA and DAE are least concerned because their interest is more to please and propitiate their true masters in Washington and Moscow, with least consideration for national interests, energy security and citizen’s safety.

This deceptive move is in violation of section 17 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act that grants the operator the right of recourse under one of three conditions: (a) if the right is expressly provided for in writing; (b) if the accident is caused by faulty material or equipment provided by the supplier; or (c) the accident results from an act of commission or omission of an individual done with intent to cause nuclear damage. Since 17(b) suggests Parliament intended to hold suppliers responsible even if there is no contractual liability, it is not clear how a public sector undertaking like NPCIL, which is answerable to Parliament, could give its suppliers a free pass. If NPCIL comes under pressure and does so they would be breaching the privilege of Parliament, besides committing contempt of Supreme Court, where two PILs with respect to the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act are pending.

There is a Russian link also to this sordid story. Misusing all kind of draconian and repressive instruments at their command, and in brazen disregard of Supreme Court orders, Government of India recently put the Russian-technology Koondankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), Unit 1, built with sub-standard material on the road to commissioning by going through the ‘first approach to criticality’ which is yet to produce a single unit of power. This is because KKNPP Units 1 & 2 having no nuclear liability Russians have dumped junk as reactor and therefore are unable to commission it even six years after its erection and installation. Taking this farce as ‘success’, and hoping for the same liability waiver, American companies have been pushing their projects in India, looking to finalize a commercial agreement between NPCL and Westinghouse Electric Company for the 6000 MW Mithi Virdi nuclear reactor where even the land acquisition process has not commenced and project is facing stiff opposition from local people on environmental, safety and livelihood issues. Another US project-10,000 MW Kovvada (General Electric) in Andhra Pradesh-is also on the pipeline, but at very preliminary stage.

To take forward this agenda, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden visited India recently in quick succession. As a follow-up two influential U.S. senators (co-chairs of the Senate India Caucus, Mark Warner and John Cornyn) have written to John Kerry lamenting that even after eight years of the announcement of the landmark Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, which lifted the U.S. moratorium on nuclear trade with India, New Delhi is yet to provide a ‘workable’ nuclear liability architecture that will help companies to move forward. In the letter they have demanded: “We need to finish what we started and realise full commercial potential of this important agreement.”

Americans and Russians also teamed up to pressurise India with the Ambassadors of both countries coming together at a conference on “Nuclear Energy: Towards the Next Phase of Cooperation” at Delhi (23rd August) organized by ASSOCHAM with India’s entire nuclear top-brass in attendance! This high-octane lobbying seems to have borne fruit!

Ironically PMO is indulging in this skullduggery when India’s nuclear energy programme is under severe stress due to strong public protests and serious doubts about its economic viability and ecological desirability. What is worse, with the US government only recently allowing Westinghouse to share confidential technical information with the Indian nuclear authorities, DAE and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, India is only just getting ready to start a technical evaluation of Westinghouse reactor. It is reported that the National Security Advisor, earlier India’s Foreign Secretary, who is more loyal to foreign interests, is anchoring the whole farce.

In today’s context, very high capital costs make nuclear energy ab initio unviable. Russian KKNPP units 3 & 4 are estimated to cost a whopping Rs 40,000 crore or Rs 20 crore a MW. This is 2.5 to 3 times higher than coal based and wind/solar power plants. If past is any indication, this cost could go up further. The initial estimate of KKNPP units 1 & 2 was Rs 13,171 crore, went on to Rs.17, 270 crore in 2012 and now reportedly even higher. KKNPP power as per NPCIL would cost about Rs 3/- a unit, but it is not clear as to how this tariff was arrived at. Probably, because this project has a unique financial model with a $2.55-billion soft loan on easy repayment schedule. Otherwise the capital cost alone would make the unit cost of power double!

Other projects will not have this luxury. Cost estimate of the American Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors claimed as the ‘safest, most advanced’, is not known. Though claimed at Rs. 15 crore per MW today, it could well be over Rs. 25 crore, by the time the plant is erected and commissioned. Cost of operation, future decommissioning and safe ‘spent-fuel’ storage would make unit cost of power prohibitive!

Ecologically the impact could be chilling. The Indo-US nuclear deal was originally meant to increase nuclear power capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032, from the present 4860 MW, which itself was utopian and impractical. But, the ‘triumphant’ signing of the deal sent the nuclear establishment into a tailspin and they are now targeting 275,000 MW capacity by 2050! These plants when located on canals/rivers will guzzle huge quantum of water for cooling and maintenance at the expense of millions of acres of irrigation. A 1000 MW nuclear plant will directly deprive around 40,000 acres of irrigation. Over 3 billion litres of hot-cum-waste water will be let back in to the canal rendering many more thousands of acres uncultivable while denying vast population of drinking water. On the coastline it would mean a 6,000 MW nuclear complex every 100 KM with each 1000 MW plant discharging same quantum of hot-cum-waste water into the sea severely damaging marine life and environment. In a populous and water-starved country this is inviting catastrophic disaster. Farms and fields will become barren, grain production will plunge, millions will go thirsty, coastlines will vanish and marine life will perish only for nuclear plants to generate gigawatts of power for some ‘development’!

In the event, American hopes to build on the ‘success’ at KKNPP appears to be far-fetched. Besides, there are several other negative factors that afflict nuclear energy as listed in the Annual Energy Outlook of the US Department of Energy: Long lead time of10/15 years for planning and construction; process to produce the fuel being the same as in fissile material for bombs; large amounts of fossil fuels used in mining/ processing the uranium fuel; radiation release, either from the reactors or from the waste; accidents though few, but with serious consequences; decommissioning at end of useful life very difficult & very expensive and long-term disposal of nuclear waste continuing to be a major issue. Further, nuclear power plants are tempting target for terrorist/enemy attack.

Despite all these realities the ‘myth’ of nuclear power thrives in India. This is largely due to the warped and secretive institutional structure of India’s nuclear establishment, which functions under a veil of secrecy. Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, formed in 1983 to overlook matters of safety in the sector is not an independent body but reports to Department of Atomic Energy, which is part of PMO that has huge vested interests in the nuclear sector. A recent CAG audit report castigates AERB for doing nothing except prescribing codes, guides and safety manuals. As a result safety of large-size nuclear installations in the country is at great peril.

Americans have a very big stake in India’s nuclear energy pie and they want to savour it without any ‘liability’. But in its anxiety and greed our nuclear establishment has bitten far too much than it can chew. Pursuing the nuclear-deal as ‘stand-alone’ option could do more harm than good to Indo-US relations, because India just cannot deliver what has been promised. Though the Russian stakes are smaller, the credibility loss, unpleasantness and bitterness caused by the KKNPP experience would hamper their progress considerably.

In wriggling out of nuclear liability for Westinghouse deal, CCS Note draws parallel to the KKNP Units 1&2 that have no nuclear liability provision. This is precisely where the danger lies because taking advantage of this fatal flaw Russian companies – Rosatom, through its subsidiary, Atomstroyexport and ZiO-Podolsk have virtually dumped junk and despite tall claims and several ‘approaches to criticality’ the plant is nowhere near commissioning. This is despite the fact that the reactor and other core equipments had arrived at the site in early 2005 and KKNP was originally scheduled to start commercial operation in December 2007. Repeated tests appear to have failed and everything is being kept under wraps! Now the same facility to dump an unproven 6000 MW nuclear plant in the state of Gujarat is being extended to Westinghouse through the secretly drafted ‘working agreement’. One only hopes that the people of Gujarat and its government will see through the fraud and halt it on its track.

India’s nuclear establishment and PMO should also see the writing on the wall, realise the reality and desist placing all their eggs in the ‘nuclear basket’, lest there be disaster! And they must also stop playing blatant fraud on the people of India to please and propitiate their foreign masters!


Noam Chomsky: U.S. Has Been “Torturing” Iran for 60 Years, Since 1953 CIA-Led Coup

September 11, 2013

link naar interview (video) met Noam Chomsky

In this web-only exclusive, MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky talks about the past 60 years of U.S.-Iranian relations since the 1953 coup organized by the CIA. “The crucial fact about Iran, which we should begin with, is that for the past 60 years not a day has passed in which the U.S. has not been torturing Iranians,” Chomsky says. “It began with a military coup which overthrew the parliamentary regime in 1953.”

See the full interview with Chomsky today:

Chomsky: Instead of ‘Illegal’ Threat to Syria, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban in All Nations

Chomsky on 9/11, Syria’s ‘Bloody Partition’ and Why U.S. Role Ensures Failure of Mideast Talks

AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guest is Noam Chomsky. Noam, if you could talk about Iran now and what the conflict in Syria means for Iran and what the U.S. could do to, overall, change the dynamics of the Middle East?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, what’s the crucial fact about Iran, which we should begin with, is that for the past 60 years, not a day has passed in which the U.S. has not been torturing Iranians. That’s 60 years, right now. Began with a military coup, which overthrew the parliamentary regime in 1953, installed the Shah, a brutal dictator. Amnesty International described him as one of the worst, most extreme torturers in the world, year after year. When he was overthrown in 1979, the U.S. almost immediately turned to supporting Saddam Hussein in an assault against Iran, which killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians, used extensive use of chemical weapons. Of course, at the same time, Saddam attacked his Kurdish population with horrible chemical weapons attacks. The U.S. supported all of that. The Reagan administration even tried to—succeeded in preventing a censure of Iraq. The United States essentially won the war against Iran by its support for Iraq. It immediately—Saddam Hussein was a favorite of the Reagan and first Bush administration, to such an extent that George H.W. Bush, the first Bush, right after the war, 1989, invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the United States for advanced training in nuclear weapons production. That’s the country that had devastated Iran, horrifying attack and war. Right after that, Iran was subjected to harsh sanctions. And it continues right until the moment. So we now have a 60-year record of torturing Iranians. We don’t pay attention to it, but you can be sure that they do, with good reason. That’s point number one.

Why the assault against Iran? We’re back to the Mafia principle. In 1979, Iranians carried out an illegitimate act: They overthrew a tyrant that the United States had imposed and supported, and moved on an independent path, not following U.S. orders. That conflicts with the Mafia doctrine, by which the world is pretty much ruled. Credibility must be maintained. The godfather cannot permit independence and successful defiances, in the case of Cuba. So, Iran has to be punished for that.

The current pretext is that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Well, as The New York Times reports that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence, on the other hand, doesn’t know. They say maybe they are. If—and according to U.S. intelligence, its regular reports to Congress, if Iran is developing nuclear weapons, it would be part of their deterrence strategy—that is, part of their strategy to defend themselves from external attack. As U.S. intelligence points out, Iran has very little ability to deploy force. It’s low military expenditures even by regional standards, but it does have a deterrence strategy—and with good reason. It’s surrounded by nuclear powers, which are backed by the United States and have refused to sign the Nonproliferation Treaty, the three of them. Israel, India and Pakistan all developed nuclear weapons with U.S. assistance. India and Israel continue to maintain—have a substantial U.S. support for their nuclear weapons programs and other programs, such as the occupation of part of Syria in violation of Security Council orders. And Iran is constantly threatened. The United States and Israel, two major nuclear powers—I mean, one a superpower, the other a regional superpower—are constantly threatening Iran with attack, threatening Iran with attack every day. Again, that’s a violation of the U.N. Charter, which bans the threat or use of force, but the U.S. is self-immunized from international law, and its clients inherit that right. So Iran is under constant threat. It’s surrounded by hostile nuclear states. It—and maybe is developing a deterrent capacity. We don’t know. New York Times knows, but intelligence doesn’t. That’s the pretext.

Is there anything you can do? And we might ask ourselves who—the United States regards Iran as what’s called “the gravest threat to world peace.” That was the press report after the presidential debate, the final presidential debate on foreign policy, and pretty accurately describing the consensus, the agreement between Obama and Romney on the threats in the Middle East: Iran’s is the greatest threat to world peace, greatest threat in the region, because of its nuclear programs. That’s the U.S. position. What is the position of the world? Well, it’s easy to find out. Most of the countries of the world belong to the Non-Aligned Movement, which had in fact just had its regular meeting in Tehran, in Iran. And once again, it vigorously supported—vigorously supported—Iran’s right to enrich uranium as a signer of the Nonproliferation Treaty, unlike Israel and India. That’s the Non-Aligned Movement.

Now, what about the Arab world? Well, in the Arab world, Iran is disliked, very severely disliked. Tensions go back many centuries. But it’s not regarded as a threat. They don’t like it, but they don’t regard it as a threat. A very small percentage in the Arab world regard Iran as a threat, let alone the gravest threat to world peace. In the Arab world, they do recognize threats, serious threats: the United States and Israel. That’s shown by poll after poll, polls taken by the leading Western polling agencies. Here, the reporting is that the Arabs support the United States on Iran. But the reference is not to the Arab populations, which are considered irrelevant, but to the dictators. One of the most extreme dictatorships, and the most important one from the U.S. point of view, is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the most extreme fundamentalist state in the world. It’s also a missionary state. It’s expending huge efforts—has been for many years—to disseminate its extremist Wahhabi-Salafi version of Islam, all with U.S. backing. It’s a dictatorship, no Arab Spring there. And the dictators, there and in other Arab emirates, probably do support U.S. policy on Iran. And for the U.S. and U.S. media and U.S. commentary, it’s enough for the dictators to support us. It doesn’t matter what the population thinks. Well, that’s the Arab world. And the same is true in the rest of the world. The obsession with Iran is a U.S. obsession, maybe draws in some of its allies.

Final question about Iran is: What can you do about the alleged threat? Well, there are things that can be done. So, for example, in 2010, there was a solution reached to the problem of Iranian nuclear programs. There was an agreement between Iran, Turkey and Brazil for Iran to ship its—all of its uranium resources to another country, to Turkey, for storage. It wouldn’t develop—enrich uranium further. And in return, the West would provide Iran with the isotopes it needs for its nuclear—for its medical reactors. OK, that was the deal. As soon as that deal was announced, it was bitterly condemned by President Obama, by the press, by Congress—harsh condemnations of Brazil, particularly, and Turkey for agreeing to this. And Obama quickly rushed through harsher sanctions. The Brazilian foreign minister was rather irritated by this, and he released to the press a letter from President Obama in which Obama had suggested exactly this program to Brazil. He obviously had suggested it on the assumption that Iran would never accept it, and then there would be another propaganda point. Well, Iran did accept it, so therefore Brazil had to be and Turkey had to be partially condemned, and threatened, in fact, for implementing the policy that Obama had suggested. That could be reinstituted, maybe—maybe some modification of that. That would be one way to approach it.

There’s a much broader way. For years, since 1974—

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we have two minutes.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah. There has been a proposal since 1974 to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region. That would be the best way to mitigate, maybe end, whatever threat Iran is alleged to pose. And that has enormous international support, such enormous support that the U.S. has been compelled to formally agree, but to add that it just can’t be done. That is a very live issue right now. Last December, there was to be a conference in Helsinki, Finland, an international conference to carry this proposal forward. Israel announced it would not attend. Iran announced early November that it would attend the conference, with no conditions. At that point, Obama called off the conference. No Helsinki conference. The reason that the U.S. gave was, verbatim almost, the Israeli reason: We cannot have a nuclear weapons agreement until there is a general regional peace settlement. And that’s not going to happen as long as the U.S. continues to block a diplomatic settlement in Israel-Palestine, as it’s been doing for 35 years. So that’s where we stand.

AMY GOODMAN: Noam, we want to thank you so much for spending this time with us on this very important day, today, September 11th. There have been a number of September 11ths—the horror of September 11, 2001, of course, 12 years ago, and September 11, 1973, in Chile, as Noam Chomsky pointed, as we have been broadcasting about over the last few days and years. And you can go to our website for our special page on this 40th anniversary of the coup against the democratically elected President Salvador Allende.

Noam Chomsky, world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author. He is Institute Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for more than 50 years.

Sinking Into Murky Water With Russia

By Raminder Kaur

26 June, 2012

In January 2008 I was surfing on the internet when I came across a Wikipedia entry on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant under construction with the Russian Atomsroyexport since 2002. It stated that the nuclear plant when complete will provide a base as well as one-off fuel to a nuclear-powered submarine, news that I circulated at the time. It was also noted that dredging for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project between India and Sri Lanka would make the sea navigable for such large vessels:

There are negotiations to see if a naval base is to be added here for both safeguarding the project and as a presence in the southern tip of the country. [5] A mini port became operational in Koodankulam on January 14, 2004 . [6] The port has been established to receive barges carrying overdimensional equipments for light water reactors from ships anchored at a distance of 1½ km. This removes the necessity of land transportation that increases the possibility of damage. The Sethusamudram project will enhance the military and provide Nuclear Submarine base in the canal, with the nuclear fuel supplied by the Koodankulam Nuclear Project.

The entry is no longer there, presumably edited out in view of the intensified anti-nuclear struggle which has reached a zenith around the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. (1) Moreover, the admission is a major howler on the part of the person who sent it to the worldwide encyclopaedia. In the aftermath of the Indo-US nuclear civilian agreement ratified in 2008, Koodankulam has been classified as a civilian operation subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The fuel for India ‘s nuclear-powered submarine can no longer be legally taken from Koodankulam. But the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Kalpakkam on the other side of Tamil Nadu retains its military capacity and will now provide the life-long fuel required for the new Arihant submarine in the form of miniaturised pressurised water reactors. (2)

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are playing a dangerous game of nuclear poker. Examples of state vacillation between civilian and military uses of the Koodankulam region are common. On the one hand, it wants to stress that the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is a civilian project tying it up with international agreements in the post-2008 scenario so that India appears as a respectable power that can responsibly deal with enhanced nuclear trade.

On the other, internally it wants to stress the defence angle, emphasising how essential power plants such as the KKNPP are to Indian security. Such rhetoric adds leverage to ill-conceived charges of ‘sedition’ and ‘war against the state’ filed against anyone who protests against their plans as has been done in outlandish numbers over the nuclear plant. (3) In fact, the DAE have misled court hearings on Public Interest Writ Petitions by stating that nuclear power stations are vital for national defence and they continue this logic in their campaigns to deter citizens in further querying or critiquing the nuclear plant project on any grounds to do with democratic rights and environmental impact. The former Indian Navy Captain, Dr Buddi Kota Subbarao, now an advocate of the Supreme Court of India describes these cases as fraud on the part of the DAE. (4) The use of DAE defence rhetoric for civilian nuclear power plants is not about defending the nation, but about defending themselves.

It has also come to light that the 1988 Inter-Governmental Agreement with Russia encloses an annexure which states that Russia will provide knowledge and services that relate to India ‘s development of a nuclear-powered submarine. This admission was noted in a website magazine on defence and security affairs, Tempur , in 2009.

The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) that India and Russia Atomstroyexport signed on November 20, 1988 for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) officially involved the construction of two 1,000 MWe  Russian VVER-1000-type light water reactors (at a cost of US$3.5 billion) at Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu State. However, a secret annexure of this contract also called for Moscow to offer its ‘consultancy’ and ‘vendor-development’ services, along with the supply of two KLT-40C reactor mock-ups (built by Afrikantov OKBM and designed to deliver 23.5 propeller mW from the 82.5mW reactor and using 20-45% enriched uranium-aluminium alloy, clad in zircaloy), their related heat exchangers and steam generators, plus their detailed engineering drawings off-the-shelf. (5)

The Indo-Russian deal was not just about the construction of a nuclear power plant but accompanied by dividends that bolstered Indian defence ‘know-how’ and ‘know-why’. Whilst this arrangement has only received public attention in recent years, it was in fact initiated before the Indo-US deal when Russia as a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory violated rules to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and technology . (6) Even though a part of the same deal, the nuclear submarine vessel has been removed from Koodankulam as a military asset for there is no legitimate reason for KKNPP to be developed as a naval base.

In January 2012, the Indian Navy leased a one billion dollar Russian-built vessel for ten years, renaming it INS Chakra II. By the end of this year, India is expected to have developed its own nuclear powered submarine, Arihant, boosted by the deal over the Koodankulam Nuclear Power plant and where Russia will help train the Indian crew. (7)

Russia supplies 70% of India ‘s military hardware – an impressive feat until one thinks about the number of Indian pilots that have died on Russian-supplied MIG aeroplanes. Dubbed ‘flying coffins’ and widow-makers’, the Indian Air force have lost over half of their nearly thousand combat planes in deadly crashes in the last four decades due mainly to technical issues, even though as the film, Rang de Basanti shows so colourfully, officials prefer to put the blame on the pilots. (8)

Similarly, the submarine supplied to the Indian army has also had its share of mishaps. In 2008 a fire extinguishing system was activated by mistake and Freon gas that removed oxygen from the air suffocated around 20 people and injured another 21. (9) Questions about the age of the vessel and the competence of the crew have been raised. Former submarine captain in the Russian Navy, Alexander Nikitin, said that the accident was a result of ‘corruption and disintegration of the military-industrial sector’ in Russia . (10) This was the worst submarine accident since the sinking of the Kursk submarine which left 118 dead in 2000 – a disaster that could in fact have been averted if the Russian government had acted quicker and agreed to international collaboration. A similar disregard surrounded the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 where, after days of denial, the then USSR authorities conceded that they had a national and global disaster on their hands.

The Indian and Russian nuclear authorities persistently say that technologies and safety checks have been updated with the latest in engineering with regards to the Koodankulam nuclear power plant. The DAE has even petitioned the Madras High Court with the statement that nuclear disasters at Koodankulam are ‘impossible’. (11) But this is a proclamation born out of sheer arrogance. Moreover, the brain drain of Russian scientists in the former USSR has turned into a flood as the country struggles to retain its scientific talents since the collapse of communism. (12) The scientific ingenuity that is left in contemporary Russia does not compare with earlier years when they launched Sputnik into space. A leaked report proves that Russian officials themselves admit that their nuclear reactors are not fit for purpose when it comes to disasters or human negligence. 31 serious flaws in Russian reactor designs have been catalogued. (13)

India has had a love affair with Russia ever since the colonial era. Inspired by the revolution in 1917, communists in India showed a strong allegiance to the superpower, preferring it to alliances with the imperialist west. Political parties from the heady days of the Tashkent meeting in 1920 and organisations such as ‘Friends of the Soviet Union’ chaired by a Congress leader took root to ensure Russian politicians, artists and cultural ambassadors enjoyed a warm welcome in the subcontinent.

Despite Jawaharlal Nehru’s pledge for non-alignment, relations continued as one Cold War superpower jockeyed against the other. India ‘s Intelligence Bureau has had its training from the KGB since the 1950s. KGB activities were countered by CIA and other interventions in which one foreign spy was played off the other by those in India . Under Indira Gandhi’s rule, Cold War opacity became clearer as India leant more and more towards the USSR .

In the contemporary neo-liberal, post 9/11 era, India plays a game of chess with all major powers. Its allegiance with the former USSR continues under deluded circumstances.

The USSR is no more, but the political left idealises it as if it were still a communist country. The left continue to live under an ideological hangover and are tongue-tied when it comes to developing a consistent critique of Russian policy and practice in India . Their reasons stem from the fact that they favour the multipolarity that an alliance with Russia promises, rather than the unipolarity of the USA which, after all, in the global recession is living with a flagging dream of supremacy. They fail to see the reality of Russia today.

A much reduced but no less powerful Russia is in the throes of cut-throat capitalism and a mission to conquer the world through trade deals and natural resource dependency. The oligarchs of old who worked for the Kremlin continue to have parliamentary control and palatial residences but this time tied in with gangster capitalism. It is evident that they have little remorse and take no prisoners when it comes to muscling in on trade, whether it be legal, illegal or the grey area in between. The Kremlin has mutated into a racketeering Gremlin.

On the supposedly legal front, there are examples such as the nuclear corporate, Atomsroyexport with its large share held by the state corporate Rosatom. Together they are responsible for much of the nuclear expansion in the former Communist bloc, Asia and other countries in the south such as Iran . (14) As the controversy of Iran shows, how long these projects remain simply civilian is anyone’s guess. These are also countries where civil society, citizen’s rights and legislature are comparatively weak. Russia takes minimal heed of international or national law as their belated feting of mammon obscures concerns over human rights abuses. Witness Russia ‘s supply of ammunition and military hardware to the governments in Syria with regards to the atrocities committed against its people and, along with China and Israel , in Sri Lanka ‘s civil war that ended brutally in 2009. (15)

On the obviously illegal front, Russia has grown to dominate the trade in real estate, drugs and the sex trade with one of its favoured havens being Goa . (16) But as a report for the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention stated in 2001, their involvement in the so-called legal economy is much more lucrative:

The large criminal organisations that are presented as the dreadful ‘Russian Mafia’ by the domestic and foreign press, are at the moment apparently not interested in the drug business, though some of their younger affiliates may be dealing drugs. The extraordinary enrichment chances offered by the transition to a market economy explain, according to some interviewees, their lack of interest in drug trafficking. As a law enforcement officer put it, ‘they have such huge opportunities to make money in the so-called legal economy, that it makes no sense for them to deal drugs’.

Whether it is above or below board, ruthlessness defines their conduct led by free-wheeling despots with a passion for big bucks, football, fast cars and even faster women.

India continues to be one of Russia ‘s prime customers. Indian officials may declare themselves as patriots who love India , but as Ashis Nandy has argued for the west in more sophisticated language than is used here, they still fantasise about sleeping with the white adversary. (17) White men serve another function – of endorsing decisions made by the Indian state as demonstrated in the number of times politicians and nuclear officials call upon Russians and Croatians to say that their nuclear technology in KKNPP is safe. (18)

A bitter irony is that whilst Russians court Indians in trade and exchange, Russia itself has become a dangerous place in view of widespread racist attacks against anyone who is not white. Racism occurs not just in football grounds but even in the most liberal of their bastions such as universities: ‘ Those with black skin or an Asian appearance rarely venture out alone at night.’ (19) In a report published in May 2012, five people have been killed and about 70 injured in racist attacks so far this year. (20) But the racism is not just limited to ultra-right street thugs. It is evident in their institutions and corporates, and it is also apparent in the lack of regard they have for the lives and livelihoods of Indians living around the Koodankulam power plant in their transnational profiteering.

So why does the Indian government continue to trade with Russia in substandard and potentially dangerous technologies in military and nuclear hardware? Profits for the companies and kickbacks for the handshaking politicians have overruled the safety of Indian citizens. The 1986 Bofors scandal and the revelations of the 2001 Tehelka Operation West End sting operation in 2001 are only the tip of this melting iceberg in an international arms imbroglio. Official arguments about national security and national development are in fact a threat to national wellbeing and prosperity.

Now that nuclear relationships have broadened to encompass US and French corporates in the aftermath of the Indo-US deal, Indian authorities are not just having an affair, but pimping Mother India in the pursuit of profits. Koodankulam has become a region of civil war fought on non-violent grounds led by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy against a venal state that threatens with violence. It is the state that has initiated this sorry state of militarised affairs in what was formerly a beautiful and tranquil region of India , a policy that also terrorises people living in other zones earmarked for nuclear developments.

Raminder Kaur is the author of Atomic Bombay: Living with the Radiance of a Thousand Suns, Performative Politics and the Cultures of Hinduism and co-author with Virinder Kalra and John Hutnyk of Diaspora and Hybridity.

1. The entry now appears on wikimapia and a couple of blogs. See Wikimapia.

2. It is interesting that the Sethusamudram project was emphasised as only a shipping canal. Proposals for the canal stress the reduction in time for heavy ships that would no longer need to sail south of Sri Lanka . But the actual saving in time is only a few hours for it cuts sailing by a mere 350 nautical miles, not the thousands of miles saved by other canal projects such as those in Panama and the Suez . In 2009, the Indian Ministry of Shipping declared that cost estimates had increased to around Rs 30,000 crores, an outrageous sum that makes no sense if the project is just to save on a bit of time and fuel. Even though proposals have been made to dredge the canal since colonial times, the reason for its inauguration in 2005 under the United Progressive Alliance party in power in the pre-Indo-US deal era has to be militarily strategic. The project is now on hold after much campaigning on environmental, economic and religious grounds as the peninsular pilgrim centre, Rameswaram, is the legendary place where Ram despatched his army of monkeys across the bridge Ram Setu to Sri Lanka . As any rate, the Sethusamudram Corporation Limited was unable to raise the funds needed to complete the project. See




6. The eventual public release of the now outdated Site Evaluation Report in May 2012 also reveals the Russian role in Koodankulam land clearance from the outset. ;









15. According to an Amnesty International report, the USA and Russia rank first and second respectively in the ‘Big Six’ ring of arms traders. See also ;


17. Ashis Nandy (1989) The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism, Delhi : Oxford University Press.




Abe flexes ugly military muscle

By Brian Cloughley
Sep 27, 2013  – Asia Times Online

The announcement that Tokyo is to host the 2020 Olympic Games was given much publicity. After all, that sort of thing is what so many people are interested in these days – the grubby glamor of sport and “celebrities”. The fact that a footballer or undressed actress gets more cash per week than a cancer surgeon earns in a year attracts hardly a word of media criticism because, after all, celeb worship sells the product.

International comment on the choice of Tokyo has been mildly supportive, just as it was when Japan announced its whopping military budget in August. The country will spend US$49 billion on its armed forces next year, the fifth-largest military budget in the world. Yet as most media yawned gently and carried on highlighting celeb vulgarity, consideration as to what Japan’s military intentions might be was missing.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reconstituted an Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security. That is a fancy title for a group that is going to tell him what he wants to be told about ditching the section of Japan’s constitution that prevents it from going to war. (He formed the panel in 2007 during his previous and disastrous year-long tenure as prime minister, and it deservedly lapsed in his all-too-brief absence.)

The Japanese constitution was composed by the US after World War II. Article 9 states:

[T]he Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

This was and continues to be regarded as a most satisfactory state of affairs because it means that under present constraints Japan will not again be capable of invading any other country; a nasty habit throughout the first four decades of the 20th century. It was hoped – and still is by very many people – that the Japanese constitution presents, for the moment at least, a decisive counter to any such ambition.

In spite of being specifically forbidden to possess war potential, Japan has a “self-defense force” of considerable strength. Its quarter of a million personnel in the air, ground and sea components operate much the same equipment as do the air forces, armies and navies of other countries. It has tanks and artillery and over 300 fighter aircraft as well as 350 maritime support aircraft, 40 major and well-armed surface combatant ships, and 16 submarines. Not bad for a military organization that is constitutionally forbidden to go to war. But it has no bombers or long-range attack missiles – yet.

In December last year Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party came to power. Its lack of liberality was highlighted in April when Abe was asked in parliament if he supported the statement in 1995 by then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama to the effect that Japan apologized for invading all the countries that suffered its savagery in World War II. It was obviously a planted question, and Abe’s answer had been prepared in advance.

He replied blandly that “The definition of what constitutes an ‘invasion’ has yet to be established in academia or in the international community,” which assertion is as foolish as it is insulting to the memory of countless millions who suffered the brutality of Japanese invaders for so many years.

Abe continued, “Things that happened between nations will look different depending on which side you view them from.” That’s true, of course – but there is no doubt that in 1910 Japan invaded Korea, whose citizens were subjected to brutal repression until Japan’s defeat in 1945 forced its withdrawal. And there is no question, either, that Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, and from there prepared its further conquest of China in 1937 which involved, among other appalling atrocities, the Nanking massacre of over 200,000 people.

After attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941 the Japanese invaded Thailand, Malaya, Burma, Borneo, the Philippines, Java, Sumatra, New Guinea, the Solomons and other Pacific Ocean islands. It is intriguing to try to imagine from “which side” Abe imagines these countries might regard Japan’s actions, even in forgiving retrospect. But there was another aspect of Japanese imperialism that the prime minister chose to highlight.

In the course of its war preparations in the 1930s, Japan formed Unit 731, a biological and chemical weapons research and development organization whose evil experiments killed thousands (we’ll never know the exact number) of Chinese, Koreans and Russians, and who knows how many others.

And it is horribly coincidental, given what has been happening in Syria, that Prime Minister Abe arranged a photo opportunity in May that commemorated Unit 731. In a ghastly display of crass, callous and grinning arrogance, Abe gave the cameras a thumbs-up sign from the cockpit of a Japanese “Self-Defense Force” jet aircraft that prominently displayed the number “731”.

This is the man who is currently leading Japan and who wants to have his country released from its constitutional prohibition against creating an offensive military force rather than one that is, quite rightly, focused most effectively on self-defense.

One reason for his determination to destroy the commitment to “forever renounce … the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes” is because he wants to confront China militarily over Beijing’s claims to islands in the region. If he succeeds in his aim, he will be able to equip his armed forces with advanced offensive weapons and go to war.

Does anyone think this desirable? It seems that he might want to win a different sort of Olympics, but the rest of the world would rather he stuck to sports and domestic governance rather than Abe flexing his military muscles.

Brian Cloughley is a former soldier who writes on military and political affairs, mainly concerning the sub-continent. The fourth edition of his book A History of the Pakistan Army is to be published next month.

(Copyright 2013 Brian Cloughley)

China, India, & Pakistan Expand Nuke Arsenals

The Diplomat

By  Zachary Keck

June 5, 2013

China, India, and Pakistan are all extending the size of their nuclear weapon stockpiles, according to an annual report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Monday.

In the 2013 SIPRI Yearbook, the organization stated that China is the only one of the five recognized nuclear powers—the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, and China— that is expanding the size of its nuclear arsenal and India and Pakistan are alone among the remaining nuclear powers in expanding both their nuclear weapon stockpiles and delivery systems (North Korea is not counted).


SIPRI estimates that China expanded its nuclear arsenal from 240 warheads in 2011 to 250 nuclear warheads in 2012. India, on the other hand, saw the size of its arsenal grow from between 80-100 nuclear warheads to between 90-110 between 2011 and 2012, while Pakistan’s nuclear stockpiles grew from 90-110 to 100-120 during the same period.

SIPRI’s baseline measurement for the size of the 2011 nuclear arsenals of each state is consistent with estimates from other sources like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ “Nuclear Notebook.”

Still, the figures are of necessity based in part on speculation given the difficulty in obtaining precise information on nuclear stockpiles. As the report notes, “China remains highly nontransparent as part of its long-standing deterrence strategy” and “reliable information on the operational status of the nuclear arsenals and capabilities of the three states that have never been party to the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—India, Israel and Pakistan—is especially difficult to nd. In the absence of official declarations, the available information is often contradictory, incorrect or exaggerated.”

Still, it has been widely believed that China, India, and Pakistan would expand the size of their nuclear arsenals as they diversified and expanded their delivery systems.

China and India are both in the process of building reliable sea-based legs of their deterrent in order to complete the nuclear triad. For India this includes the indigenously-built INS Arihant nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), which is currently undergoing sea trials and whose reactor is expected to go critical sometime this week. Although the Arihant is believed to have a dozen or slightly less launch tubes, Delhi is likely to build more SSBNs in the future.

Similarly, China is building a flight of its Type-094, Jin-class SSBNs, with three already operational and five more on the way, according to the Pentagon’s latest report. The Jin-class SSBNs are said to be able to carry up to 12 JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).

Furthermore, as reported last week, both China and India are seeking to equip their intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV), which would likely require India at least to expand the size of its arsenal and produce lighter warheads.

Interestingly, if SIPRI’s estimates are correct, Pakistan no longer has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal but rather shares that distinction with China and India. Still, not all nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are created equal, and if SSBNs can possibly help stabilize a nuclear dyad, the same cannot be said of the tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) Pakistan is said to be pursuing to counter India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine. Unlike China and India, Pakistan also does not have a no-first-use policy.

At the same time, a larger nuclear arsenal could increase Pakistani leaders’ confidence in the survivability of its nuclear force, possibly leading them to desist in risky behavior like regularly transporting nuclear warheads in unmarked cars along the country’s busy highways.

Despite the increases in these country’s nuclear arsenals, SIPRI estimates that the number of nuclear warheads worldwide declined in 2012, from 19,000 at the beginning of 2012 to 17,265 nuclear weapons at the start of 2013. Nearly 2,000 of these are kept on a state of high alert, according to the report.