Home Contact Us  
   

Safety and Security - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4339, 17 March 2014
 

South Asian Dialectic

India and Nuclear Terrorism: Meeting the Threat
PR Chari
Visiting Professor, IPCS
 

Nuclear Terrorism: Is the threat exaggerated?
To play the devil’s advocate, it is not easy for unauthorised persons to acquire nuclear weapons or nuclear materials. Being crown jewels, they would be closely guarded by trusted cohorts. Even if they are subverted, the terrorists would have to overcome many other  problems. Nuclear warheads are maintained in an unarmed state, and armed using electronic codes to ensure against accidental detonation. These codes are kept secret by the ‘release authority’, obviously the Chief Executive in the nation. Further, in the case of India and Pakistan, nuclear cores are kept separate from the warheads and delivery vehicles, hence several  steps have to be taken by different bodies to arm these weapons. Could all these hurdles be surmounted by a terrorist group? 
Second, the problems faced to acquire nuclear materials is no less acute. Arrangements for their protection would be equally stringent. Should a terrorist group somehow gain access to weapons-usable nuclear materials, fashioning it into a deliverable nuclear weapon is not a trivial task. 
Third, scenario builders have also visualised terrorist organisations gaining control over the nation, and accessing its military nuclear program and nuclear weapons. But the probability of all these events occurring must be rated low.
Nuclear Terrorism: Low Probability, but High Consequence
Despite the above, it is known that senior Pakistani scientists were in touch with Osama bin Laden. The CIA has highlighted al Qaeda’s general interest in weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. Al Qaeda’s branches and franchisees span the world. Moreover, several instances are known  of missing nuclear materials being recovered. More alarmingly, nuclear materials have been found to be missing after they were recovered. Nuclear terrorism remains a discrete possibility, hence it should be designated a low probability high consequence event. 
An imperative need consequently for the upcoming Netherlands Nuclear  Security Summit to work towards establishing tighter international controls over nuclear materials; seeking  greater transparency on national  measures to enhance nuclear security; gaining  more adherents for international agreements pertaining to the physical protection of nuclear materials; reducing the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium in national nuclear programmes; registering  the sources of radioactive materials that have extensive medical, educational and research applications; and strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
 
India and Nuclear Security
India’s contribution to these objectives has been considerable. It has joined the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, with its 2005 Amendment, and the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Further, India’s  execution of UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (April 2004) has been exemplary; it  casts a legally binding obligation on  UN Member States to enforce effective measures against the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons (WMDs), and their delivery systems. It is especially intended to prevent terrorists and criminal organisations from obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapons. Towards this end States need to prohibit support to non-state actors seeking WMDs; adopt effective laws prohibiting activities involving the proliferation of WMDs to non-state actors; and, enforce effective measures to reduce the vulnerability of many legitimate activities to misuse  and the proliferation of WMDs to non-state actors. These are essentially reactive measures.
Meeting the threat of nuclear terrorism  proactively, however, requires a holistic programme that can be framed within a matrix of four ‘Ds’ viz. Detection, Deterrence, Defense and Disaster Management. Clearly, detection is an intelligence function, which requires high level attention, constant vigilance, technical competence and so on. The deterrence option requires the country sheltering potential nuclear terrorists to be placed on notice, and threatened with condign punishment if any act of nuclear terrorism is perpetrated by its terrorists-in-residence. The problem here is that an organidation like al Qaeda has branches in several countries. How can a deterrent relationship be established vis-à-vis such an organidation? Defence against a nuclear attack is not feasible. hence it must be sought within  the defence and deterrence matrix. Finally, disaster management in the post-attack aftermath must comprise a mix of immediate and longer-term relief, medical assistance, evacuation and rehabilitation measures. Special measures would be needed to deal with radiation casualties. There are many grey areas here such as the first responders getting incapacitated, and the sociological impact on affected societies, of which we have no knowledge or previous experience. 
India, Nuclear Security and NSS 2014
There is much that India can contribute to the Netherlands Security Summit. It could do more to meet the criticism that its nuclear programme is opaque, and become more forthcoming about its emergency response systems. It must also explain why it has not been able to fulfill its earlier commitments to establish an independent nuclear regulatory authority and a Centre of Excellence to train personnel in nuclear safety and security matters. It had contributed US$ 1 million to strengthen the IAEA as the focal entity to ensure nuclear security. India could add to this contribution, and offer training facilities to IAEA personnel in its Centre of Excellence.
But, India should also suggest the extension of nuclear security measures by promoting  pro-active  measures to ensure nuclear security through a four ‘Ds’ programme.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Rabia Akhtar,
"Nuclear Security Summit 2014: Pakistanís Role," 20 March 2014
Sitakanta Mishra,
"Nuclear Security Summit 2014: Indiaís Record," 20 March 2014
Manpreet Sethi,
"Nuclear Security Summit 2014: Shared Risk, Shared Responsibility," 17 March 2014
Sheel Kant Sharma,
"Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index," 10 February 2014

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus

Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar

Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Obamaís New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India

Modiís Tryst with Abe

Thinking the Unthinkable: Promoting Nuclear Disarmament

The Enigmatic Case of Bowe Bergdahl

India-Pakistan Relations: Modiís Options

India and No First Use: The Doctrinal Conundrum

The Hague Nuclear Security Summit: Evaluating Major Achievements

Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator

The Yasukini Controversy: Global Implications

Can India be Cunning?

Limits of Federalism

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: An Evaluation

Technological Change and Security: Implications for India

India and the Failed States Index

India, Sri Lanka and the IPKF Debacle: Remembering 29 July 1987

Why Berlin is not Prague-II

Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference 2013: Deterrence and Disarmament

Pakistan Elections 2013: Will things change?

India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: The Strategic Entanglement

India and Pakistan: The Kargil Redux

India and Pakistan: Political Fallouts and Larger Questions of the LoC Violations

Book Review: Implications of Asia's Rising Powers for the US

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.