India's incredible nuclear deterrent - India - NEWS - The Times of India India's incredible nuclear deterrent TNN 19 September 2009, 06:16am IST NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Former DRDO scientist and Pokhran II project director K Santhanam’s assertion that the thermonuclear (TN) device test was a failure has sparked off a debate on how credible India’s nuclear deterrent is. Contrary to what government agencies and officials state, many security experts and scientists believe that while India’s nuclear arsenal is enough to deal with Pakistan, it can’t hold a candle to China’s nuclear might which comprises a minimum of 400-500 warheads. Santhanam has categorically stated that a 25 KT fission bomb is not sufficient for Agni III 3,500 km missile and this reinforces the belief that India can’t match up to China in a conflict. Security expert Bharat Karnad says Santhanam’s assertion has proved that then AEC chief R Chidambaram’s claims on the 1998 hydrogen test were fraudulent. ‘‘Santhanam’s revelations suggest that R Chidambaram’s longstanding claim that has rendered the Indian government complacent about Barc being in a position to design and develop thermonuclear weapons of yields between 100 kilotons and 300 kilotons on the basis of data from one flawed test in 1998 is actually fraudulent,’’ says Karnad. ‘‘So India has only a 20 KT fission weapon arsenal to bank upon. This may be enough to tackle a minor nuclear weapon state like Pakistan, but against China it will find itself grossly inadequate and over-matched. In a strategic crisis which may materialize sooner than anybody expects, India will be compelled to throw in the towel and kowtow to Beijing,’’ he added. His remarks assume significance in context of the Navy launching INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear submarine. ‘‘How can the country have a nuclear submarine equipped with 20 KT nuclear bombs? This submarine is meant to launch intermediate range ballistic missiles with powerful nuclear warheads,’’ he said. Other scientists differed with Chidambaram and Anil Kakodkar, the present AEC chief, saying a computer simulation was no substitute for an actual test. ‘‘No defence force will accept a bomb which has been tested only in a computer. And this was made absolutely clear at a seminar which was held in New Delhi last week in which serving military officers participated,’’ said a scientist, who didn’t want to identified by name. According to strategic affairs analyst Brahma Chellaney, India doesn’t even have a minimal nuclear deterrence, let alone a credible one.