April 27, 2013

While the United States beats the war drums over North Korea and Iran’s long-ranged nuclear armed missiles –which they don’t even possess – Washington remains curiously silent about the arrival of the world’s newest member of the big nuke club – India.

In January, Delhi revealed a new, 800km-ranged submarine launched missile (SLBM) designated K-15. Twelve of these strategic, nuclear-armed missiles will be carried by India’s first of a class of domestically built nuclear-powered submarine, “Arihant.” India is also working on another SLBM, K-5, with a range of some 2, 800km.

These new nuclear subs and their SLBM’s will give India the capability to strike many high-value targets around the globe. Equally important, they complete India’s nuclear triad of nuclear weapons delivered by aircraft, missiles, and now sea that will be invulnerable to a decapitating first strike from either Pakistan or China.

Last February, it was revealed that India is fast developing a new, long-ranged, three-stage ballistic missile, Agni-VI. This powerful missile is said to be able to carry up to ten independently targetable nuclear warheads, known as MIRV’s.

Agni-VI’s range is believed to be at least 10,000km,

putting all of China, Japan, Australia, and Russia in its range. A new 15,000km missile capable of hitting North America is also in the works under cover of India’s civilian space program. India is also developing accurate cruise missiles and miniaturized nuclear warheads to fit into their small diameter.

These important strategic developments will put India ahead of other nuclear powers France, Britain, North Korea, and Pakistan, about equal in striking power to Israel and China, and not too far behind the United States and Russia.

Delhi says it needs a nuclear triad because of the growing threat of China, whose conventional and nuclear forces are being rapidly modernized.

This writer has been reporting on the nuclear arms race between India and China since the late 1990’s. China has replaced Pakistan as India’s primary nuclear threat. Even so, Indian and Pakistani nuclear forces remain on a frightening hair-trigger alert within only a 3-5 minute warning time of enemy attack, making the Kashmir cease-fire line (or Line of Control) the world’s most dangerous border.

The Bush administration began quietly aiding India’s nuclear program with nuclear fuel when India had a shortage of fissile material. Some advanced technology from the US and India’s second largest arms supplier, Israel, has also aided Delhi’s nuclear and missile delivery programs.

India, as I wrote years ago after one of its big nuclear tests, is feeling its “nuclear Viagra.” Most Indians take great pride in their strategic nuclear programs as their way into the great power’s exclusive nuclear club.

But not all Indians are so delighted, particularly those on the left who ask how their nation, with one third of all the world’s poorest people, can afford to spend tens of billions on advanced weapons, including nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, and ICBM’s.

According to the World Bank, 32.7% of Indians subsist below the international poverty level of $1.25 daily, and 68.7% on less than $2 daily. Aid agencies say 33% of Indian children are malnourished.

Delhi is making steady progress in reducing poverty and disease, and in trying to break down the pernicious caste system that dooms a quarter of Indians to lives of misery.

This, critics claim, is no time to be posturing as a world power when Mother India still has feet of clay.

The Bush administration was totally unaware that India’s advent as a major nuclear power whose weapons might one day challenge the United States. Bush & Co. wanted India to bulk up as a competitor to China, a permanent enemy of the Republican hard right. Today’s Republicans think similarly.

India is a great democracy where politicians, not generals, make policy. She is a staunch friend of the United States, where over one million Indians now live. True enough, but we have seen there are no permanent friends in world politics, only permanent interests.

One day mighty India may vie for influence with the US for Mideast and Central Asian oil, and control of the Indian Ocean’s vital sea lanes. But not today, as all eyes are on pipsqueak North Korea and dilapidated Iran.

copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

This post is in: Uncategorized


  1. Cicero says:

    India`s friendship is bought, not genuine and in their blind greed, the Bush administration wanted to have a scapegoat to blame, if troubles were to erupt with China. But India is a member of the BRICS and does not need the US anymore, after they got all the secrets necessary to be a nuclear power. And India is capitalizing on North America`s short-sighted outsourcing just the same as China. The Americans cannot come to terms with the fact, that they made a couple of fatal moves on the chessboard of international politics. The US still thinks of itself as the great democracy it once was, but that badly eroded. If you make a deal with the devil, you can have glorious times, but it is not pleasant, when the devil comes calling for payment and his knocking on the door of the White House is getting louder all the time.
    As a child during the second world war I heard so much about America and its unbridled potentials and the affluence of the average citizen. When I emigrated to Canada, I entertained the thought of some day crossing the border and trying to become an American citizen, but then found out, that I fell in love with this beautiful rugged country with its unpretentious and friendly people, Canada. I now realize the power of the movies we saw in Europe right after the war. Such is the power of propaganda. The reality turns out to be very different and a lot of post war immigrants discovered, that the milk and honey were just camouflage paint and artificial sweetener. Dr. Faust, what have you done?

  2. Well Eric selective indignation has always been the hallmark of America and the media. The reason North Korea and Iran are the nuclear evils is that America is terrified of upsetting of anyone who could actually pose a real threat to them. They have lost every war since WWII except where they invaded places like Grenada, and they invaded them to make up for getting their asses kicked in Lebanon even though Grenada never even threatened them..

    • It’s tough being tied to an elephant like the Americans… but, Eric generally is pretty objective… I didn’t find that he was the least indignant, and there is a bit of an issue between Pakistan and India, and there will be a greater one when the fundamentalists take firmer rein (or maybe reign) in Pakistan. It will be another country where Americans will not be wanted… pretty soon, they will run out of countries to ‘own’…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.