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Sunday, 3 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 03 Jul 2011




Security of Pakistan’s N-arms questionable

Sankar Sen, IPS (retd)  Prof. Shaun Gregory has reported that in the past five year militants have attacked three Pakistani nuclear facilities/store houses at Wah, Sargoda air base, and Kamran, exposing loopholes in Pakistan’s security regime for its nuclear weapons. In August 12, 2008, two suicide bombers attacked the gates of a Pakistan ordnance factory wall, killing 70 people. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on a nuclear installation in Pakistan’s history. On October 24, 2009, eight persons were killed in a suicide attack on Pakistan’s air base complex at Kamran, which also stores nuclear weapons.  Today Pakistan has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal. In the last four years it has expanded from 60-80 warheads to over 110. Some in the West believe that Pakistan started preparing nuclear-tipped missiles in the middle of the 1999 Kargil war. Pakistan nuclear warheads used the implosion design with a solid core of 15 to 20 kg of enriched uranium. Pakistan now produces about 100 kg of enriched uranium in a year, but is rapidly expanding its nuclear infrastructure with the help of the Chinese. Pakistan reportedly has several nuclear storage facilities though their exact locations are not known. They are mainly in the military bases.  Although separate storage may provide a layer of protection against an accidental launch or prevent the seizure of an assembled weapon, it makes easier for unauthorised people to remove the weapons fissile material cores if they are not assembled. When the US decided to launch an attack on Afghan Taliban after Sept 11, 2001, President Parvez Musharraf reportedly ordered that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals should be redeployed to at least in “six secret new locations.” At that time, the Islamabad leadership was uncertain whether the US would decide to strike at Pakistan’s nuclear assets if Pakistan did not assist against the Taliban.  Reliability tests  Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are handled by the army’s Strategic Planning Division (SPD). This force comprises around 12,000 personnel. The SPD personnel have to pass a personal reliability programme and a human reliability programme before induction. Screenings are reportedly done every two years and some times randomly. After the A.Q. Khan scandal in 2004, these tests are applied to senior personnel. The weapons are stored in underground sites with multiple security rings and guarded by heavily armed SPD personnel. Experts are of the view that physically overwhelming these weapons’ sites will be very difficult but a highly plausible scenario is the theft of fissile materials or fusing components used in the bomb by radicalised personnel in the SPD.  The pilfered materials could be used as a radiological device or what is called a “dirty bomb”. It is a conventional explosive used to scatter radioactive materials. It spreads panic rather than inflicting mass casualties. Another possible use for the fissile materials is for building a “simple implosion device” and targets could be an Indian city. Today Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons as well as fissile materials. The larger the number of weapons, the greater is the threat of leakage.  Previously India and Pakistan used to reassure themselves that neither side could use a nuclear weapon because the aggressor would suffer from the fallout. That may no longer hold good after the 2008 US decision to give India civil nuclear technology. This has led Pakistan’to strengthen its nuclear arsenal. It has now tested a new mobile missile with a miniaturised nuclear warhead designed to destroy tank formation with little radiation beyond the battlefield. This has also increased the risk that border tensions may escalate into something far more serious and lethal. Pakistani Generals are of the opinion that this tactical weapon would be able to meet the threats of rapid and punitive conventional thrusts by the Indian forces against Pakistan.  Threats remain  US officials have so far conveyed confidence in the security of Islamabad’s nuclear weapons. American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated in an interview on January 21, 2010, that the US “is very comfortable with security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”. But a recent study by Mathew Bunn of Harvard University’s Managing the Atom Project asserts that Pakistan’s stockpile “faces a greater threat from Islamic extremists seizing nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth.”  According to Davis Albright, a noted nuclear proliferation analyst, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not thought to be “one point safe” or equipped with the Permissive Action Links (PAL) meant to prevent unauthorised use of such weapons. The PAL requires an entry code before such weapons can be armed and fired.  Again Pakistan’s nuclear assets remain vulnerable for another reason. From the outset, they have been deployed to the west of Pakistan to extend the warning time of possible Indian attacks against them and delay the overrun from the ground. The nuclear installations in the volatile regions of West and North-West of Islamabad remain exposed to grave threats from terrorist groups. In Pakistan the control and decision-making regarding nuclear weapons is totally in the hands of the army despite periods of civilian rule. Former Prime Ministers of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are on record stating that they were clearly out of the decision-making loop with regard to nuclear weapons.  Unfortunately, the Pakistan army is no longer a loyal professional and disciplined force as it was thought to be. The “beard count” in the army has increased. Many young officers of post Zia-ul-Haq era have been radicalised. There is also a growing feeling among sections of the army that they are fighting their own countrymen at the behest of the US. It is reported in New York Times that the army chief, General Kayani, is under pressure from anti-American, radicalised lower and middle ranks of the army for not adopting a tough line against the US. Reports of a “Colonels’ coup” may be overstated. However, if there is a collapse of the command and control situation, and emergence of different power centres within the army, each will view the strategic arsenal as a real prize and that will be in every sense a nightmare scenario.  The writer is a former Director, National Police Academy







India all set to test new short-range tactical missile

‘Prahaar' (to strike), a totally new quick-reaction, short-range tactical missile, which will fill the gap for such a battlefield weapon system in India's missile arsenal, is all set to be flight-tested on July 17.  This was stated here on Saturday by Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and Director General, Defence Research and Development Organisation, V.K. Saraswat after inaugurating a new facility of Analogic Controls India Ltd. (ACIL) that manufactures electronic systems for mission critical defence and space applications.  Talking to journalists, Dr. Saraswat said the 150 km-range missile would replace unguided rockets and “is going to be an excellent weapon.” It would bridge the gap between Pinaka, a 40-km range multi-barrel rocket system, and the 350-km Prithvi-II, which had been converted into a strategic missile. Unguided rockets of 90-km range had also been imported from Russia.  Dr. Saraswat said that at present the services did not have a weapon such as Prahaar. The missile would be equipped with omni-directional warheads and could be used for hitting both tactical and strategic targets. The road-mobile system could be pulled out for quick deployment with each launcher carrying six missiles. “With different types of warheads, you can have different types of missiles from the same launcher,” he added.  Stating that the DRDO-developed missile was cost-effective, Dr. Saraswat said that only a few would be required to cause devastation equivalent to that produced by several unguided rockets. Initially, the missile would be given to the Army and later to other services.  Replying to a question, he said India's longest range, surface-to-surface Agni-V missile would be flight-tested by the year-end as scheduled earlier.  Avinash Chander, Chief Controller, (Missile & Strategic Systems), DRDO, said the most “critical milestone' — the testing of three propulsion motors for the first, second and third stages of the missile — was completed.  Electronic systems  Earlier, inaugurating the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility of ACIL, Dr. Saraswat called for forging public-private partnerships for producing electronic systems, which were being imported. The new Electronics Development Policy would aim to bridge the technological gap and seek large participation of the private sector.  He said a low cost laptop being produced by the DRDO in partnership with IIT, Jodhpur, was expected to be unveiled by December.  T.V. Prasad, Chairman, ACIL, said the company was developing more than 50 components for various projects and intended to move towards high-end products.








India agrees to help genocidal Sri Lankan military

India has agreed to help the Sri Lankan Army in its capacity building by opening up more seats for its officers and men in its training academies and military colleges, apart from sharing experiences in counter-insurgency operations.   The agreements were arrived at during the first structured three day long army-to-army talks that ended here Friday (01), an Indian Army officer said here.  Apart from deciding to enhance the scope and number of training courses for Sri Lankan officers and men, the Indian Army will also share its experience and organisational structure for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.   For the talks, Sri Lanka had sent a five-member delegation led by its Military Secretary, Major General H.C.P. Goonetilleke. India was represented by the army’s Additional Director General for International Cooperation, Major General I.P. Singh.   The two sides will also send their military instructors to each other’s military academies. Sri Lankan, in particular, needed instructors in adventure sports and English language, which India agreed to provide, they said.   The Goonetilleke-led delegation also met Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh during the visit.   In the inaugural army-to-army staff talks, which began Wednesday (29), the two sides also shared their expertise in battle concepts and doctrines, particularly in tackling insurgency. The Sri Lankan delegation will return to Colombo Saturday.   While Sri Lanka brutally ended its three-decade long civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) two years ago with huge human right violation and war crimes, India is promoting the Sri Lankan military’s activities against Tamils.  The Sri Lankan army committed war crimes against Tamil civilians in 2009, a published United Nations report also charges. The U.N. found credible evidence that the Sri Lankan government soldiers targeted civilians, shelled hospitals and attacked humanitarian workers in their final offensive against the LTTE in the north.  During the Sri Lankan military operation more than 75,000 innocent Tamil civilians have been brutally murdered by Sri Lankan forces in last few months only and 40,000 Tamil civilians massacre was confirmed in a published UN panel report.  Even though Sri Lanka’s government is suspect in a massive Genocide two years ago that left possibly one hundred thousand Tamil civilians dead, reports indicate that in spite of statements from the Rajapaksa regime to the contrary, war crimes still continue in small scale.   The ex-Tamil rebels who were previously in custody and then released, are eventually ending up raped or murdered by “unknown” men and colonisation in north also taking place under the tight military rule.




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