April 21, 2012

“India launches first intercontinental ballistic missile,” the world media misreported this week. True enough, India did launch a new, 5,000 km-ranged Agni-V missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to Beijing and Shanghai.

Previously, India’s 3,500-km Agni-III did not have the range to hit China’s major coastal cities.

But Agni-V is not an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), as wrongly reported. Nor was the missile North Korea launched on 15 April that fell apart soon after liftoff. Some media wrongly claimed it was an ICBM that could hit the United States.

One longs for the days when media employed real war correspondents who understood military affairs.

A true ICBM has a minimum range of at least 8,000 km and more likely 12,000 km. India and North Korea’s missiles were medium ranged ballistic missiles (MRBM’s). The difference is important because MRBM’s are theater weapons while ICBM’s threaten the entire globe.

India crowed with pride over its Agni-V launch. One government scientist claimed Agni-V made India “a major missile power.” By contrast, India’s growing rival, China, dismissed the launch with a disdainful sniff.

But, as this column has been writing for years, India is indeed emerging as a major military power.

In 1999, this writer’s book, “War at the Top of the World,” began examining the growth of India’s military and postulated that India and China would one day go to war over their ill-defined Himalayan border and Burma.

Today, India has become the world’s largest importer of arms. India’s navy is to deploy three aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines with ballistic missiles , a powerful air force, and armed forces of 1.3 million. India has long land and maritime frontiers and needs large, well-equipped military forces.

India and China have long been locked in an arms race, though neither will admit it. China holds a lead over India in modernized armed forces, but India is catching up. India is deeply concerned over China’s land, air and missile forces on the Tibetan Plateau overlooking the plains of India, and by China’s development of blue water naval forces that are edging into the Indian Ocean.

Yet almost unnoticed by the outside world, India has also been long working to develop a true ICBM that can reach North America, Europe and Australia. Why India, a nation of deep poverty, needs a missile that can deliver nuclear warheads to New York or Paris, remains a mystery.

The most likely reason is prestige and a seat on the UN Security Council. But there is also the possibility that one day India may confront the United States over Mideast oil, or confront Russia and China in Central Asia.

India’s deliverable nuclear arsenal, like those of all other nations, is designed for strategic deterrence – a national life insurance policy.

Delhi has masked development of an ICBM behind its space launch program. As Washington tartly noted last week about North Korea’s attempt to put a satellite into orbit, a booster that can place a satellite in orbit can just as well deliver a nuclear warhead.

The same applies to India. For now, India is a close US ally, and the recipient of US and Israeli help in building its nuclear arsenal.

India’s purported ICBM is named “Surya” and is believed to have a planned range of 12,000 km. The missile is said to be composed of the main stage of its PSLV space launcher and Agni-V. Its development remains shrouded in secrecy. The program has had many failures and misfires.

India is also deploying nuclear ballistic missiles on its growing submarine forces, including the 7,500-km-range K-15 and 3,500-km range K-4, and well as cruise missiles and a range of deadly anti-ship missiles designed to sink aircraft carriers.

The US Navy is the only power operating large attack carriers in the Indian Ocean or Arabian Sea. Indians still angrily recall a US carrier group, Task Force 74, steamed menacingly off its coast during the 1971 India-Pakistan War.

The third maritime leg of India’s nuclear triad provides a secure second strike capability after a surprise nuclear attack. But is also gives India the ability to attack most of the world’ capitols from the sea.

30 MARGOLIS

For German translation of this and other of Eric’s columns, please go to http://antikrieg.com/archiv_ericmargolis.htm.

This post is in: Asia, Military and Security Affairs

20 Responses to “Nuclear missile Viagra for India”

  1. “With so much poverty in the worlds largest democracy, the expenditure on weapons and nuclear technologies must take away from helping the poor with health care and schooling and housing.”

    Commie! :)

  2. In 1963 I was a labourer for the Foundation Company of CanaDa on The Distant Early Warning Line. It appears to me the Warning Line is no longer Distant and it’s getting Late.

    In 1967 I was involved as a Sales Rep in supplying machinery and material for The Rajasthan Power Project (RAPP) which included two 220 MWe CANDU reactors built in the state of Rajasthan with the help of CIDA. Despite all the safeguards, CanaDa laid the foundation for India’s development of the bomb.

    As Eric speculates, India is testing long range missiles in an attempt to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

    I would like to see a definitive article by Eric on the war drum still being beaten by Israel over Iran.

    THE NUCLEAR QUESTION? IRAN – DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?
    March 14, 2012

    http://ray032.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/the-nuclear-question-iran-different-from-the-rest/

    SYRIA: A WITCH’S BREW – ON THE ROAD TO TEHRAN
    February 27, 2012

    http://ray032.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/syria-a-witchs-brew-on-the-road-to-tehran/

  3. Zeeshan7 says:

    Given the high rate of poverty and lack of government programs the rest of the world takes for granted, India and Pakistan spend a disproportionate (and very large) portion of their national budget on defense. You would think they were the American empire, only to realize all that stockpiled armament is meant to scare each other.

    India however, has managed to maintain a healthy balance, outpacing Pakistan in economic and technological areas of innovation; Indian national pride soars each and every day.

    Pakistan remains a poor country suffering a severe identity crises and curiously, one of the best trained armed forces in the world; the Americans describe the Pakistani armed forces as an army in search of a country.

    India is now poised to overtake Pakistan militarily. Given the current state of affairs, the Pakistani army is likely to crumble under sectarian and political chaos that continues to grip the land. One can for-see a civil war, stoked by India, which will see the seperation of Balochistan and NWFP provinces from Pakistan, leaving a smaller nation state with an army that only has reputation.

    So much potential that could have been tapped on either sides of the border, wasted in 6 decades of conflict over Kashmir and a genetic disposition for the two sides to hate the other.

    • solum temptare possumus says:

      Zeeshan

      Long memories of the Bloodshed after the Radcliffe Line was decided and the Indian Independence Act of 1947 was created. Estimates from a low of 200,000 to a high of 1,000,000 dead. Over a thousand years of prior animosity between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims prior to the 1947 Partition.
      British beaurocracy at its worst.
      Ad iudicium

    • Some Canadian says:

      >India is now poised to overtake Pakistan militarily

      Are you sure? Shouldn’t Pakistan be the underdog since 1947? I mean the disparity of manpower and resources is pretty significant…

      And don’t forget Pakistan had lost practically every war with India.

      • Mike Smith says:

        India is having some growing pains along with their expansion…

        http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-04-10/news/31318810_1_tatra-trucks-defence-preparedness-israeli-firm

        ” certain types of tank munitions are down to four days of reserves. ”

        ” Airforce Vice-chief said lack of trainers meant that trainees were being able to complete just 25 hours of flying in their first year instead of 150 ”

        Not really high readiness, they would still likely be a match for Pakistan, but not China… or both.

        • solum temptare possumus says:

          Mike Smith

          “….still likely be a match for Pakistan, but not China…”

          Another reason why the US is selling weaponry and technicals to India?
          A buffer and rival to China perhaps?
          The Karakoram Highway over the Khunjerab Pass (4693m-15397ft) from Pakistan into China is for 7 months an open two lane blacktop highway. The importance of Pakistan to China cannot be discounted. Their is even talk of building a rail link between Havelian Pakistan and Kashgar in Xinjiang China, a distance of 1100 kilometres
          Ad iudicium

          • Mike Smith says:

            Even more so

            http://www.cnas.org/node/6455

            May 27, 2011 — Pakistani officials have announced that the Chinese look favorably on taking over the operation of the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar close to the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz, and perhaps building a naval base for the Pakistanis there as well. The Chinese have apparently contradicted these claims, indicating that they have made no such decisions on these matters.

            I think Eric may also have wrote of this once apon a time.

  4. vgvvarun says:

    The whole world know that USA is now ruling over our neighbour hood without minding USA’s business. This is why North Korea, Iran and other countries hate. Using UN you want other contries to obey you by not providing food shelter and clothing. In the end of this Oil age,
    all that USa have is more enemies than ally.

  5. It will be interesting, where this whole thing is going to go. It will take very little to have that ‘strong’ alliance between Washington and Delhi destroyed with the single stroke of a pen.
    Some may discount the BRIC, but it is a very little understood group, that is shrouded in as much secrecy as the other scheming and conniving alliances. The stakes are high and the hangman may get hanged by his own noose.

  6. Steve_M. says:

    With a military aresenal like this and its active development of medium-range missiles and ICBMs, it is obvious that India scarcely needs any foreign aid from the US, Canada, or anyone else. I hope the Harper government is taking note and will cut off India from all financial assistance. We Canadian taxpayers have more than enough problems of our own that need to be addressed.

    • solum temptare possumus says:

      Steve_M

      The US seems to have a new policy of supporting the two democracies at either end of the Middle East/South Asia, namely India and Israel. Perhaps the Indian government is more pliable in intervening in Afghanistan so that the planned pipeline can still be built.
      Ad iudicium

  7. “One longs for the days when media employed real war correspondents who understood military affairs.”

    One longs for the days when media employed real correspondents who understood anything at all, and were capable of anything other than “an anonymous source said that…”

    • solum temptare possumus says:

      JayhawkSD

      The military does not give interviews to “reporters in the field”, as in WWII, Korea and the early part of the Vietnam conflict. Only the top generals/admirals give press conferences, after reading the scripted statement and having been thoroughly briefed on how to answer, change the subject, obfuscate the issue and when and how to end the MSM message. If they go off topic and tell the truth they are posted to another theater, returned to the Pentagon for “debriefing”, or retired as honored soldiers with a lifetime of service to their country.
      Ad iudicium

  8. and from Reuters, based on the proposed Phillipines naval drill, “Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation and resolution through armed force,” said the commentary in the Chinese paper, which is the chief mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army.

    “Through this kind of meddling and intervention, the United States will only stir up the entire South China Sea situation towards increasing chaos, and this will inevitably have a massive impact on regional peace and stability.”

  9. “and a range of deadly anti-ship missiles designed to sink aircraft carriers.” I wasn’t aware that India had that capability… the only news reference I saw was that China had developed this, and that the US was concerned.

  10. solum temptare possumus says:

    We can thank Canada with the United States blessing for selling India the CANDU Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor that started their journey toward membership in the exclusive Nuclear Club.
    Canada had a choice in the 1950′s. Develop Thorium technology for a civilian electric power reactor or go with Uranium. One of the reasons for choosing Uranium was that the spent fuel created (yes created via beta-decay) Plutonium. The United States needed Plutonium for its ongoing testing in Nevada to develop better and more lethal nuclear bombs, and to build its Nuclear Arsenal.
    India seems to have “Most Favoured Nations” status with the USA. India will now buy its Pressurized Light Water reactors from an American company, most likely Westinghouse. Add to that all the Nuclear technology that goes along with enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.
    I wonder if this new best buddies friendship has anything to do with India buying military weaponry exclusively from American companies?
    Eric could you comment on this if you know? You didn’t mention the type or the companies benefiting from the arms sales.
    With so much poverty in the worlds largest democracy, the expenditure on weapons and nuclear technologies must take away from helping the poor with health care and schooling and housing. Thank goodness the majority religion is Hindu, which teaches the lower castes to “accept their lot in life” and be good so you can look forward to a better life in your next re-incarnation.
    Ad iudicium

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