Indian Missiles: Need For Security Or World Power Ambitions?

Many an Indian heart would have gained a faster beat with the country’s Defence Ministry spokesman announcing that with the successful firing of Agni V Surface-to-Surface missile on December 26, India gained entry to the ‘exclusive International Ballistic Missile Club (ICBM). The spokesman and defence analyst Brigadier Rahul Bousle had said that this achievement ‘will place the country on par with the Chinese and major missile powers such as the United States, Russia, to some extent’.

The range Agni V’s predecessor Agni IV is said to have a range of 400 Km. The missile range of the 7-meter long Agni V, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of about a ton, has a range of 10,000 Km.

World Power?

In normal lingo all this is meant to show that India is now a World Power, militarily.

A report in Defence News (India) said that Agni V was the last link in the chain of land based deterrence vis-a-vis China. As at present India cannot pose a viable threat to major Chinese counter value targets such as large cities, the report said.
Entering into the exclusive International Ballistic Missile Club with a single successful firing test of a missile? Not yet. Indian reports say that three other test firings have to be done before the latest missile is inducted into the Indian missile system.

More important is that to have the status of a Nuclear Power, India will have to gain admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and India has been knocking on its doors for many years unsuccessfully. The NSG is a group of nuclear supplier countries that seek to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling export of materials, equipment and technology that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

Western powers, probably having the burgeoning Indian middle class market in mind and the hope of India becoming a countervailing force in Asia to China, have been actively supporting India’s entry to the NSG. This is however quite in contrast to the attitude of Western Powers in the days of the Cold War when India was surreptitiously working its way towards being a nuclear power. Nuclear sanctions were imposed on India by the United States on the grounds of its refusal to be a signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Pakistan, which was on the heels of India following its nuclear trail, too had similar sanctions imposed on it.

NPT ignored ::

The end of the Cold War and with it the end of the Soviet Union, India’s ally saw the nuclear non-proliferation policies of the United States and its allies being stood on its head to accommodate India. In 2005 the US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement was signed by President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opening up the vast store of American civilian nuclear technology to India. But India, along with Pakistan and Israel, still remain non signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Entry to the NSG seems to have run into opposition from China. However in December last year it was reported that a new draft formula for Non NPT members to gain membership to the NSG had been circulated by a former Chairman of the NSG Rafael Mariano Grossi. According to some Indian reports if this formula is accepted it would enable India to gain membership but keep Pakistan out. However whether China, Pakistan’s all weather friend, would permit such a move in the NSG where decisions are made on the basis of consensus, India’s entry will run into problems, some reports say. Firing of the Agni V missile on December 26, which would have certainly ruffled China’s feathers, will certainly not help.

Memories of a few decades ago when Indian diplomats swore by the policy of non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi, stands out in stark contrast to India’s present stance of flexing its nuclear and muscle power. Whether nuclear and missile power would be an effective deterrent to the threat of terrorism is much in doubt. India, with the second largest Muslim population in the world, faces a greater threat from Islamic terrorism than most South Asian nations.

The reason adduced by India for its nuclearisation is the Chinese first nuclear explosion in October 1964, 12 years after the Indo- China border conflict. India’s first nuclear test code named ‘Buddha is Smiling’ came after 10 years later (May 1974) in the Pokhran desert of Rajasthan. Pakistan followed and now North Korea too is going the same way. Iran too commenced its programme but halted it following the nuclear deal with America. Israel, another non- signatory of the NPT, is projected to have the biggest nuclear arsenal of the Non-NPT signatories. Do all these nuclear arsenals add to the security or insecurity of these aspiring nuclear powers?

The question also arises whether India needs a nuclear arsenal with missile power for its own security or its desire to become a world power. Does the build-up of a blue water navy expanding into the Indian Ocean and even beyond, betray world power ambitions?

Some Indian hearts may be beating faster with the glory of India reaching nuclear power status. Do hearts of small neighbouring South Asian countries, that have faced Indian aggression, beat the same way?






Source:- The Sunday Leader

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