India's Missile Program & Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia
Living amidst Scary Nations
By Muhammad Aamir
None other than the military sources have in the past, termed Indian missiles unreliable. With such track record a long range missile once placed on Indian inventory will be even more catastrophic in nature Muhammad Aamir questions if international community is over-looking a potential threat to regional and international peace.
Geographically, Pakistan is precariously placed in the wrong neighbourhood with Iran and Afghanistan in the West, China in the North and India bordering in the east. Barring Afghanistan that has so far failed to establish her State apparatus, all the neighbouring states in this highly nuclear-proliferated region are more eager to play an active role beyond regional context and unfortunately without putting their own household in order.
At a time the world community was contemplating on the next probable move of Pyongyang regime after a failed launch of Unha 3 satellite vehicle on 12 April 2012, India test-fired its long range ballistic missile. Probably scared by the Indian might, Pakistan too followed the suit on 25 April. Shaheen-1A of Pakistan has a longer reach as compared to the ones tested by the country before.
No eyebrows were raised either, a politically weak Indian Government took a prestige in the success of Agni V named after Hindu God of Fire and the US state department showed a confidence in ‘India’s nonproliferation record’ (probably the US state department may be required to redefine the term nuclear proliferation). This leads to assumption that India is probably responding to safeguard US interests in the South Asian theater of what might be termed as the far pavilions of the US presence in the new Great Game.
While nuclear war-head-carrier Agni V is capable of reaching as far as Shanghai, Indian officials insist that the test was not China specific. In the recent past India has also positively responded to the peace initiatives from Pakistan, leaving the objectives of the Indian program to speculations where any saner would shudder to think of the possibility where Indian boldness may align US alternatives on its arms-reduction program. India at the same time is reportedly negotiating with Russia, purchase of 25,000 Invar missiles and 10,000 9 K113 Konkurs wire-guided anti-tank missiles on fast track procurement. Moreover, considering that Washington has recently spent a heavy amount in relocations and geographic dispersal of its military bases in Japan, the growing Indian arsenal is even more alarming in a highly volatile region.Grounds for the Indian nuclear program are replete with deceit. In 1974, India had acquired a small reactor from the Canada on the pretext of civilian research to make plutonium; only to secretly develop the bomb – an act that prompted the US President Richard Nixon and the-then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to introduce a global structure of NPT (Non proliferation treaty) on emergent grounds. 35 years later the Bush administration recognized India as a full fledge nuclear weapon state – a privilege North Korea and Iran had been denied hitherto. The US-India nuclear deal had exempted India from the obligations of NPT and at the same time allowed her to maintain its 50 to 120 nuclear bombs and even build more.
India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Project was launched in the mid-1980s by its Defence Research & Development Organization commonly known as DRDO. The country had initially planned tactical Air Defence system based on Akash and Tirshul but the stunning failure of the program and the country’s ambition to adopt a more strategic posture drove her through the long range ballistic weapon venture.
Agni is configured as strategic carriers and its latest version Agni V is almost akin to intercontinental missiles – may be shades short of the standard threshold. At a time Obama administration has been claiming its efforts for arms-control treaties, it appears to be willfully turning a blind eye to the formidable growth of Indian nuclear program, a state without any responsibilities towards international community. India has never taken into consideration the Non Proliferation aspect of its grand ambitions. Its track record on the subject is even alarming that would set precedence of North Korea and Iran discretely accumulate WMD.
With reports of an infancy inventory and severe equipment shortages leaking through the press, Indian Army chief VK Singh has already stated that operational capability of the Army is seriously being affected. (Supreme Court has already rejected Gen Singh’s request for 10 month extension and Singh is due to retire on May 31). None other than the military sources have in the past, termed Indian missiles unreliable. With such track record a long range missile once placed on Indian inventory will be even more catastrophic in nature.