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  • Nuclear Terrorism: Inevitable But Preventable?

    The phenomenon of nuclear terrorism has been the subject of intense debate as also much hype. This article seeks to cut through the hype and examine the real portents of the threat in terms of event possibilities. In doing so, it calls for sobriety and balance in discussion, emphasizes the need to guard against ignoring numerous scientific facts and real difficulties along the way, and cautions against embracing unduly alarmist overtones.

    January 2013

    DF-41: China’s answer to the US BMD efforts

    US efforts to improve and expand its BMD system would degrade Chinese nuclear retaliatory capability thus forcing China to go for a qualitative and quantitative improvement of its nuclear force by deploying more ballistic missiles with MIRV and MARV capability and penetration aids.

    November 12, 2012

    Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and Civil Nuclear Liability

    The Right of Recourse embedded in the Indian nuclear liability law has ensured that more than four years after the NSG granted exemption to enable nuclear commerce with India, India has not been able to finalise a single contract with any of the countries with which it has signed nuclear cooperation agreements for any nuclear facility.

    November 09, 2012

    Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Programme: Is it the only Threat?

    At the core of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme is the challenge to West Asia’s balance of power from Iran’s growing sphere of influence, which now stretches through Iraq towards the Mediterranean.

    November 09, 2012

    The Franco-Indian Quest for an Independent Nuclear Policy, 1950‐1974

    Normative credibility bestows on the Indian and French quest for foreign policy independence the uniqueness not granted to any other bilateral nuclear relationship operating in opposition to the non-proliferation regime.

    October 10, 2012

    The Iranian Nuclear Imbroglio and the NAM Summit

    Though the NAM Summit was an important occasion for Iran to showcase its diplomatic acceptability, its impact on the future contours of the Iranian nuclear imbroglio will likely be minimal.

    September 19, 2012

    Eminem asked: What could be the geo-political implications if Iran goes nuclear?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: If Iran goes nuclear, depending on whether one is a nuclear optimist or pessimist, it could lead either to a more stable Middle East/West Asia or be a cause of greater instabilities. Proponents of the former view include international relations theorists like Kenneth Waltz.

    Countries of the region of course hold quite a different view. Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries contend that a nuclear Iran would be emboldened to undertake de-stabilising activities with greater impunity. These could range from increased support for organizations, such as the Hezbollah and Hamas, to contemplating offensive actions like missile attacks or naval brinkmanship for instance.

    Accordingly, these countries are fortifying themselves with missile defence assets, procuring sophisticated military assets, among other measures. The GCC countries like Saudi Arabia are also on record stating that they will most definitely explore the possibility of obtaining the nuclear option themselves if Iran goes nuclear. US officials like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Strategic Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler have hinted at the possibility of bestowing extended nuclear deterrence on their allies in the region.

    Japan's (un)clear nuclear ambition

    Japan’s amendment of its atomic energy law with the inclusion of a “national security” clause is being viewed within the country as a ploy to pave the way for the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

    July 11, 2012

    Iran's Nuclear Imbroglio at The Crossroads: Policy Options For India

    Iran's Nuclear Imbroglio at The Crossroads: Policy Options For India

    On account of pertinent international, regional and domestic dynamics, the Iranian nuclear imbroglio is at uncertain crossroads. There are however reasons for optimism. This is because of Iran’s continuing engagement with the IAEA and P5+1 and strong opposition from major powers to a military solution. In the light of the above dynamics, the Paper points out dilemmas being encountered by India and ends by exploring possible policy options in the evolving situation.

    Sivanandan MS asked: What are the safety measures that are taken to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants in India?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: Such measures include physical protection of plants and radioactive material as well as adopting and executing global standards in the running of these plants. The latter includes incorporating design features to ensure safety of the plants during normal operations as well as to effectively tide over the ill-effects of possible natural events like floods, tsunamis among other disasters. These could include situating back-up generators at a greater height (especially pertinent in the aftermath of Fukushima) or increasing the height of protective walls or in-built design features to ensure ‘cool’ running of the plants among other efforts.

    The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), established in 1983, is responsible for regulating the functioning of all nuclear power plants in India. To make functioning of the plants more independent, the government in 2011 has put into motion the required measures to establish the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA), which will subsume the work of the AERB.

    In recent times, the complementarities and mutually reinforcing nature of safety and security measures at nuclear power plants and of materials is being emphasised (two of ‘S’ trilogy, the other being safeguards). India appreciates this fact and is a party to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, entered into force in 1987, as well as its 2005 Amendment which was ratified by India in 2007. India also supports the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources.