Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Relevant nuclear safety measures of South Asia


Relevant nuclear safety  measures of South Asia

Nuclear proliferation in the sub-continent, has  led  to South Asia’s  Cold  War,  ideationally rooted in collective memory and  materially underpinned by the dynamics of power politics in the region. The  diametrically opposed interests  of India and  Pakistan mean that the two countries will  pursue their strategies individually. Analyses of South Asian nuclearism take two polar positions in explicating the  effects  of nuclear weapons in  the  sub-continent. The  first argues that their advent has  made for a more stable South Asia, circumscribing armed conflicts and  terminating  major wars by the logic  o f  deterrence .  The  se co nd  claims that  nuclear proliferation has  destabilised India-Pakistan relations, in particular, and  South Asian security in general, by encouraging aggressive Pakistani military postures and massive conventional build  ups  on either side  of the  Line  of Control (LoC).
Statement of the problem
In  the South Asian context, we  are  faced  with  a  unique situation. Both  the  adversaries locked  in hostilities are  nuclear armed. Any actual use  of the  weapon is likely  to be suicidal. On the  face of it, this equation should provide a credible deterrent to  war.  However, this has  not  happened. The  stability, which many strategists thought would  descend on the  sub-continent with  the  acquisition of nuclear weapons, has  continued to  be elusive. In overall situation, it is said that the ability of the threat of use  of nuclear weapon has  removed the  actual use  of nuclear weapons to achieve certain specified objectives in a conflict. So far  nuclear weapons have  been  used only  once  and  that too against a  non-nuclear weapon state.  When   the US  bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it could do so because it faced no threat of equal retaliation.
Presently, providing strategic stability is the  main plan of the  US foreign policy in South Asia, meaning “Keeping open the opinion of using India to help  counter-balance China, whenever that prove  necessary. Stability, viewed  in this context certainly involves preventing any  war  between India and  Pakistan and generally controlling reducing the  level  of political violence in South Asia.”  The  Bush Administration indication that  the subject of non-proliferation should not  stand as  the  obstacle to the  maintenance of the  US-India relationship based on common interests. Now non-proliferation and  arms control are  no longer on the  agenda of the  Bush Administration. On the  other hand, nuclearisation has  not  fundamentally made India secure, and given  its  proclivity to project itself  as a developing country, the test have not  enhanced its  international standing either. Even though China is  in  a  similar situation, it still  manages to  be treated as a great power. This  situation is largely a reflection of C h i n a ’ s  w i l l i ng n e s s  t o  a s s e r t i t s  p o s i t i o n  a n d  f a c e  t h e consequences.
Dilemmas of nuclear power states
India’s democratic tradition, however, makes its task more  difficult as  contending view  points have to be taken into consideration. In the  sense, the process of finding a common national position is all the  more  difficult for India than it is for China. At best,  nuclearisation has  provided India a temporary strategic depth vis-a-vis the  global  constellation of powers. It is entirely up  to  India to  exploit this window of opportunity, to rearrange its priorities in order to enhance its economic progress, bring about greater social  cohesion and  political stability. India’s quest is for great power status and  not  just for survival. It wants to play  a pre-eminent role  in global  politics.
Broadly speaking, the concept  of security includes the practices  involved in  the physical custody  of weapons and sensitive nuclear materials that will prevent theft or sabotage, and control procedures that will prevent unauthorised tampering with, access  to,  and  use  of nuclear weapons. Normally, it is defined in  two  contexts–strategic and  technical. The  strategic concept also refers to ensuring safety and survivability of nuclear weapons under all conditions - peace,  on alert in crisis, and  war. Safety implies measures to prevent nuclear weapons from being involved in accidents and to permit them to perform as intended. While   survivability refe rs  to force deployment,  mobility, dispersal, and hardened silos for weapons and command centres that will make nuclear weapons is vulnerable. In the  technical sense ,  stability  implies compre hensive ly  configuring the command, control, communication, and intelligence systems that guarantee a retaliatory second-strike capability, which  the adversary must perceive as credible. 
However, in any  case  for o ptimal de te rre nce  crisis st ability must be  as sure d.  By implication wars and  dangerous military practices must be eschewed and command configurations made robust to meet high security requirements, provide communication redundancy, and obviate hair-trigger deployments that entail the  risk  involved in  delegating authority  to military field  commanders. In  the context of nuclear stability, each  and  every  question must be answe re d  in  full  with no  roo m  for  an  incorre ct answe r. Requirements of stability and  the  elaborate arrangements as applied during Cold War  day  stand valid  today as Quinlan has written, ‘Requirements do not, however, decrease proportionally with size; it is not to be supposed that a small nuclear force does not need  sophisticated control–indeed, small size  may  entail potential vulnerability that  heightens demands’.   In  other words, the re is  a  Zero tolerance  for mistakes  in  nuclear management and   the fact that  command systems are still evolving in South Asia poses  great risk.
Possible solutions
For stable nuclear deterrence, three criteria must hold. The first pertains to the  credibility of nuclear weapons system and the resolve of a  country to use  them, and  the perception the adversary holds  about these issues. Second, neither side  must believe it can  destroy its opponent’s  nuclear capability in  a preventive or pre-emptive attack. The third criterion is fulfilled when nuclear forces  meet the above  two  stability conditions under all circumstances. In general, South Asia currently meets the  first criteria of stable deterrence, as  both  sides  sufficiently understand the  capabilities of the  other. The  second  condition is linked with the  decision-making system in each  country and the perception that adversaries have of that system. For  the present, the second  criteria  remains shaky and  uncertain in South Asia.  An outside analyst might conclude that in practical terms neither Pakistan nor  India could  successfully execute a  pre-emptive attack. But  the  lack  of trust on both  sides  in  the process through which  decisions are made in  the  other State means that this criterion of stability remains unrealised.  The third condition is also problematic under the  conditions of South Asia.  Till  date in  managing their nuclear arsenals, both  India and   Pakistan have   demonstrated  nuclear discipline during peacetime, as  well  as  during the crises of recent years. The balance of power relationship  is  a  dynamic one  that needs continuous adjustment in the relationship to ensure equilibrium a pre-emptive attack.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is Professor and Head of P.G.Department of Political Science, BNMU, West Campus, P.G. Centre, Saharsa-852201. Bihar, India. Email- rajkumarsinghpg@yahoo.com

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