Nuclear Briefcase: Should India get one?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by pmaitra, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Nuclear Briefcase: Should India get one?

    Cheget: The Nuclear Briefcase of the USSR

    Cheget (Russian: Чегет) is a "nuclear briefcase" and a part of the automatic system for control pinnacle command and control of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF) named Kazbek (after Mount Kazbek).

    It was developed during Yury Andropov's times in the early 1980s. The suitcases were put into service just as Mikhail Gorbachev took office in March 1985[citation needed]. It is connected to the special communications system code-named Kavkaz (after the Caucasus Mountains), which "supports communication between senior government officials while they are making the decision whether to use nuclear weapons, and in its own turn is plugged into Kazbek, which embraces all the individuals and agencies involved in command and control of the Strategic Nuclear Forces." The Russian President has a cheget on hand at all times. It is usually assumed although not known with certainty that the nuclear briefcases are also issued to the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff.[2][3] The General Staff receives the signal and initiates the strike through the passing of authorization codes to missile silo launch complexes or by remotely launching individual ICBMs.

    The control of the "nuclear briefcase" has become a symbol of political authority. The system is named after Mount Cheget in Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia.

    More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheget

    Nuclear Football: The Nuclear Briefcase of the USA

    The Nuclear Football (also called the Atomic Football, President's Emergency Satchel, The Button, The Red Button, The Black Box, or just The Football) is a black briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States of America to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States.

    According to a Washington Post article, the President is always accompanied by a military aide carrying a "football" with launch codes for nuclear weapons. It is a metallic Zero Halliburton briefcase carried in a black leather "jacket". The package weighs around 45 pounds (20 kilograms). A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle.

    In his book Breaking Cover, Bill Gulley, the former director of the White House Military Office wrote:
    There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing the retaliatory options, a book listing classified site locations, a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Broadcast System, and a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes. The Black Book was about 9 by 12 inches and had 75 loose-leaf pages printed in black and red. On the 'vital' page listing possible responses to a nuclear attack, retaliatory options appear in red and were labeled: 'Rare, Medium or Well Done.' The book with classified site locations was about the same size as the Black Book, and was black. It contained information on sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency.

    More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Football

    A Nuclear Briefcase of India: Should India get one? What should it be like, physically and based on command structure? Who will carry it?
     
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  3. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Though we have a command in place for nukes, not much is known about the internal structure and how the whole command is delegated. i am sure such a mechanism as the briefcase would require a very high degree of sophistication for communication and the whole exercise would also be pretty expensive.
    I dont think with a small arsenal that india maintains that we would need one at the moment. may be someone more knowledgeable would shed more light
     
  4. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    India's Strategic Command

    India's Strategic Command

    Contributing Editor Air Marshal (Retd) AYAZ AHMED KHAN writes an article of national importance.It will educate the readers on the current status of Indian nuclear power

    The Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA) which acts as a think tank for Bharat's Ministry of Defence had submitted a study in September 1998 to the Indian government on the subject of command and control of nuclear weapons. Titled 'Nuclear India', this study recommended the creation of a STRATEGIC COMMAND under the Indian Air Force for the command and control of nuclear weapons. Thus to enable use of inputs like air surveillance, photo and electronic reconnaissance, and target information vital for the accurate delivery of nukes. The study suggests that the nuclear delivery platforms of the IAF i.e. strike aircraft and Prithvi missiles, radars and air defence systems are strategic assets of great importance for the new Strategic Command. With nuclear delivery capable multirole strike aircraft and air superiority fighters, the Indian Air Force will be a key player for nuclear strikes and air defence against nuclear attack. The objective of error free control over nuclear weapons will be achieved in the first instance by developing a methodology of unity of command. According to Soumyajit Pattnaik the noted Indian military analyst, 'the best methodology to achieve this objective would be to recognize the strategic assets of the IAF, which could be placed under a strategic command, which must function as a component of Indian Air Force.' The IDSA study, parts of which have been accepted by the Indian government, has recommended this format for effective and error free control and command over nuclear weapons after a thorough study of the control and command structure of the five nuclear weapon states i.e. US, UK, France, Russia and China.'
    In the British nuclear command and control system, the Royal Air Force plays a key role in the delivery and safety of UK's nuclear arsenal. The IDSA has recommended the creation of a Nuclear Command Authority on the US pattern. Under the American law the command of nuclear weapon employment is vested with the President of the United States. The US President exercises control over nuclear weapons through The National Command Authority. It comprises the President, the Secretary Defence, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The US nuclear command and control system caters for the worst nuclear scenario, by earmarking a line of succession for continuous nuclear weapon command and control. In the event of death and incapacitation of the President a 16-member line of succession has been designated. After the President, the Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman of the Senate, the Secretary of State and so on will exercise command of the vast US nuclear arsenal. In France, the President exercises close control over the deployment and employment of nuclear weapons. In fact, the National Command Post for ordering release of nuclear weapons and directing their use has been built, complete with operational communications in the basement of Elysee palace in the heart of Paris. Russia's vast nuclear arsenal is controlled by President Yeltsin. Under command Russian Air Force, Strategic Forces Command and Rocket Forces Command, are tasked to carry out nuclear operations when required. Russia's Voronov and Yamantan nuclear operational centres were built in the Ural Kovinsky mountains in deep underground structures during the Soviet era in the sixties.

    The Indian Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis has recommended the formation of a three-member National Command Authority (NCA) comprising the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister, the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee for the command and control of nuclear weapons at the highest level. India's nuclear weapons and nuclear forces must be mandatorily under the command and control of the highest political authority i.e. the Prime Minister of India. The IDSA recommends that, 'The authority to launch nuclear weapons must rest with the Prime Minister. The Defence Minister and the Chairman COSC need to be chartered to authenticate weapon release orders. The order will then go through the Chief of the Air Staff Indian Air Force to field formations of the Strategic Command. All strategic nuclear forces are to be commanded by the Chief of the Air Staff IAF.' In October 1998 Defence Minister George Fernandes had announced the formation of a separate Strategic Nuclear Command ostensibly as a result of the IDSA study. Since then Indian military has carried out large scale military exercises in Rajasthan during October and November 1998 to develop the concept and procedures for the use of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons against Pakistan. Nearly one hundred thousand troops underwent operational and safety drills for a nuclear war, including survival during nuclear attacks. It is worth mentioning that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has his fingers on India's nuclear trigger, and he is being advised by anti-Pakistan super hawks like Defence Minister George Fernandes and General Mullick who is the Chief of the Army Staff and COSC, on the subject of the use of nuclear weapons. Recently General Mullick had hinted about the possible use of nuclear weapons to defeat the intensified Kashmiri's armed struggle in the occupied state.

    The IDSA study recommends separate procedures for peace time crisis situations i.e. explosions at nuclear power stations, and wartime requirements for the use of nuclear weapons i.e. nuclear pre-emption and defence. It has been suggested that Nuclear Command Post - a concrete underground structure be built in Delhi area under the supervision of IAF experts. The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) with the Prime Minister as its head will operate from the underground and highly guarded Nuclear Command Post in the capital. A duplicated NCP should be built at a distance from the main NCP to ensure continuous control over nuclear weapons in the event of its destruction.

    The IDSA study has recommended the separation of nuclear warheads and delivery systems. The implication is strict control over nuclear warheads for the Prithvi and Agni missiles, and over nuclear weapons i.e. atomic or thermonuclear bombs to be fitted on IAF's strike aircraft. This will enable the political leadership to retain custody of India's large nuclear arsenal. The methodology of strict control over nuclear warheads will be developed by Air Headquarters, Indian Air Force. India has put in place all the elements and instruments including the Institution of Strategic Command and control so as to achieve full fledged nuclear power status. Being in the process of creating the Strategic Nuclear Command India is less likely to sign CTBT or any other agreement which could hinder or delay India's aim to become a nuclear power.

    Pakistan's nuclear command and control apparatus is shrouded in total secrecy, and that is how it should be. It is hoped that despite US pressure to denuclearize, plans and policy have been formulated for the proper command, control and coordination of nuclear related assets, i.e. delivery systems eg, MRBM missiles and nuclear weapon capable multi-role strike fighters and air defence systems. With its conventional capability weakened by the Pressler Amendment, the PAF has adopted a low profile, and its tremendous potential is not being used for the control, command and employment of nuclear weapons or MRBM missiles. While tactical missiles logically should be under the Army, MRBM's like Ghauri to be used in the strategic role in conjunction with long range strike aircraft should be under the command of Prime Minister, who should use various assets of Pakistan Air Force for their effective employment.

    Source: http://www.defencejournal.com/feb-mar99/india-strategic.htm
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Reagan and the Nuclear Button - Steven Hayward

    Reagan and the Nuclear Button - Steven Hayward

     
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  6. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Images of the Nuclear Briefcases

    U.S. Nuclear Briefcase:
    [​IMG]

    Ex-Soviet and now Russian Nuclear Briefcase:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  7. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    What's in the 'football'?

    WHAT'S IN THE 'FOOTBALL'?

    A snapshot of the contents of the "nuclear football" comes from Breaking Cover, a 1980 book by Bill Gulley, director of the White House Military Office under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter:

    "There are four things in the Football. The Black Book containing the retaliatory options, a book listing classified site locations, a manila folder with eight or ten pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Broadcast System, and a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes."

    Gulley said:

    • The Black Book was about 9 by 12 inches and had 75 loose-leaf pages printed in black and red. On the "vital" page listing possible responses to a nuclear attack, retaliatory options appear in red.
    • The options, in Gulley's words, were: "Rare, Medium or Well Done."
    • The book with classified site locations was about the same size as the Black Book, and was black. It contained information on sites around the country where the president could be taken in an emergency.

    Source: The Associated Press.

    Full Report: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-05-05-nuclear-football_x.htm
     
  8. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    The Russian Nuclear Button

    The Russian Nuclear Button

    In the event of a nuclear missile attack on Russia, three hard-shell briefcases filled with electronics are set to alert their holders simultaneously. Inside each is a portable terminal, linked to the command and control network for Russia's strategic nuclear forces. One of them accompanies the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, wherever he goes. It is known as the Cheget, and allows the president to monitor a missile crisis, make decisions, and transmit those decisions to the military. It's similar to the nuclear "football" that accompanies the American president.

    But a new book by a leading Russian security analyst points to a surprising disconnect in the system, a potential flaw that has not been widely understood. Under Russia's 1993 Constitution, the president is the commander in chief, and if incapacitated in any way, all of his duties fall to the prime minister. Yet the prime minister does not have a nuclear briefcase at his disposal. The other two Cheget briefcases are actually held by the defense minister and the chief of the general staff, as was the case in Soviet times. The resulting ambiguity, warns Alexei Arbatov, could be dangerous in the event of a nuclear crisis. In today's Russia, neither of the military men has the constitutional or legal responsibility to make a decision about how or whether to launch a nuclear attack. Certainly, they would be among the top advisors to the president at a time of crisis, but they are not decision-makers.



    Why the danger? The United States and Russia still maintain nuclear-tipped missiles on alert for rapid launch. The land-based U.S. missiles can be ready to launch in four minutes. Warning of an imminent attack might require a president to make very rapid decisions with limited information. In such an emergency, whether in the White House or the Kremlin, you'd want very precise roles for each decision-maker, without ambiguity or uncertainty.

    But it seems like there is still some uncertainty in Russia, where the command-and-control system is shrouded in secrecy, as it was in Soviet times. This makes it all the more interesting that Arbatov is airing his concerns in public. His critique is included in his new book, Uravnenie Bezopasnosti, or The Security Equation, just published in Moscow. The volume, in Russian, covers a wide range of security issues, from Europe to Iran, from nuclear terrorism to tactical nuclear weapons. His comments on the nuclear command and control system come in a chapter titled "Democracy, the military and nuclear weapons."

    Arbatov, who heads the Center for International Security at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow, is also a scholar in residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center and one of the foremost Russian analysts of strategic weapons and security issues. He has been a long-time member of the liberal Yabloko bloc, and in earlier years served in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, where he was deputy chairman of the Duma defense committee.

    Arbatov wants Russia to bring the nuclear weapons launch procedure -- the three briefcases -- in synch with the Russian Constitution. He wants to make sure it is the president and the prime minister who are making the big decision. He is a strong believer in the idea that democracy means civilian control over military affairs.



    The Soviet Union created the current command and control system at the peak of the Cold War in the early 1980s. The three nuclear briefcases were put on duty just as Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985. They are linked to a redundant network, called Kavkaz, made of cables, radio transmissions, and satellites. The three briefcases are essentially communications terminals to give those using them information about a possible attack, and allowing them to consult with each other. Initially, they were given to the Soviet general secretary, defense minister, and chief of the general staff because, in the Soviet system, the military has historically played a larger role in decisions about nuclear war. If a nuclear launch were ordered, it would go from the Cheget to a receiving terminal called Baksan, located at the command posts of the General Staff, rocket forces, navy, and air force. The overall communications network is called Kazbek.

    The Cheget does not by itself contain a nuclear button. Rather, it is a transmission system for permission to launch. The launch permission would be received by the military, and distributed by them to the proper branch of service and the weapons crews.



    After the Soviet collapse, Arbatov notes, the system of the three briefcases was preserved intact, and handed over to Russia. Yet he points out the Soviet Union was a one-party totalitarian state, consisting of a single military-political leadership, while Russia chose to be a democracy. Arbatov insists that a democracy must have solid, guaranteed control of the political leadership over the most important of all decisions: the use of nuclear weapons. He notes that in the United States, the principle of civilian control is well established.

    Arbatov raises some fundamental questions about the three briefcases. If they must all work together, he asks, then why are two of them given to the defense minister and chief of the general staff, who are not formally nuclear decision-makers? And if the briefcases don't work jointly, what is the difference between them? Could any single one be used to issue a launch order? Arbatov does not offer answers to these questions, saying there isn't reliable information from official sources. He points out that the three figures with briefcases are not equal: the president is commander in chief, by the Constitution; the defense minister reports to him, and the chief of the general staff to the defense minister.

    Arbatov is particularly concerned about what happens if the president is incapacitated. The Russian Constitution clearly states, in Article 92, paragraph 3, that "In all cases when the president of the Russian Federation shall be unable to perform his duties such duties shall be temporarily performed by the chairman of the government of the Russian Federation," also known as the prime minister. If the president can't give a launch order, Arbatov says, his successor is the prime minister, not the defense minister or the chief of the general staff. Yet they are the ones with the Cheget briefcases.

    In the history of the new Russia, Arbatov recalls, it is known the nuclear briefcase was handed to the prime minister when Boris Yeltsin underwent heart surgery in 1996. There are no other reported instances of a transfer. In Vladimir Putin's years as president, from 2000 to 2008, Arbatov reports, there is no public information that the briefcase was ever given to the prime minister while the president was out of the country. Even more than that, Arbatov laments, both president and prime minister are sometimes out of the country at the same time. Who, then, would make the decision about nuclear war, if they can't?

    Arbatov's questions are particularly important now that Medvedev, the president, and Putin, the prime minister, seem to be sharing power. By Arbatov's reasoning, both Medvedev and Putin should have a nuclear briefcase. As it stands, Putin, who is often described as the real power in the dual structure, does not.

    Given the fact that missiles are still on launch-ready alert, a weak link in the chain is not an isolated problem. If there's an ambiguity or uncertainty in the Russian components of command and control, it is a potential worry for the United States, too. Both countries are no longer Cold War rivals, poised to launch a first strike at the other, but they still must safely manage the devastating weaponry that is a legacy of that earlier era.

    Arbatov says that Russia needs to sort all this out, including the question of succession if the president can't act. While one might assume the defense minister and chief of the general staff will always heed the will of the president, he warns that times can change. He asks how the three briefcases -- the "triple key" -- would function if the president is out of commission. It's not enough at that moment to rely on personal relationships, Arbatov insists. He calls for legislation to define the process more clearly --and then to give the Cheget briefcases to the right people. Arbatov had proposed such legislation several years ago when he was in the lower house of parliament, but it went nowhere.

    This debate is not unique to Russia. In his 2004 book, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet, James Mann recounted how in the Reagan years, a plan was designed to sustain the U.S. government in the event of nuclear war. Three different teams would be sent from Washington to three different locations, and each would be prepared to proclaim a new American "president" and assume command of the country. Each time a team left Washington, it brought along a single member of Reagan's cabinet who was designated to serve as the next American "president." Some of them had little experience in national security. Mann wrote that the program was extralegal and extraconstitutional, establishing a process that was nowhere authorized in the U.S. Constitution or federal law.

    Since the 9/11 attacks, there has been new attention to the issue. A panel was created, chaired by former senators Alan K. Simpson and David Pryor. The Continuity of Government Commission has issued a series of reports, identifying weaknesses, and uncertainties in the line of succession to the American president, especially in the event of a catastrophic attack that left several figures in the line of succession dead or incapacitated. The commission has made recommendations, but they have yet to be acted upon.

    If the president of Russia were wiped out in an attack, Arbatov told me, Russia has no law in place defining a line of succession beyond the provision in the Constitution that the prime minister shall perform the president's duties.

    Arbatov does not raise it, but in my book The Dead Hand, I describe a Soviet-era system for guaranteed retaliation to a nuclear attack. The system, put on combat duty in the 1980s, about the same time as the Cheget briefcases, is called Perimeter. In a doomsday scenario, if the leadership is wiped out and nuclear attack is underway, the decision about whether to launch nuclear missiles would fall to a group of surviving duty officers in a deep underground bunker. The system still exists. It is another bit of leftover business from the Cold War that ought not be neglected.


    Source: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/27/the_russian_nuclear_button?page=full
     
  9. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    Guess what? We've actually talked about it.


    The Nuclear Football

    By Rajeev Sharma

    June 12, 2010

    [​IMG]

    The other day I had an interesting conversation with a senior Indian official. I asked him whether the Indian prime minister, like the US president, carries the football with him whenever he leaves New Delhi for domestic or foreign visits. He looked at me curiously for a few moments and asked me: ‘Are you nuts? Obama may, but Manmohan Singh isn’t a football fan. And why the *@#% should he carry a football even he’s a football fan?’

    Undeterred, I quickly explained that I meant ‘the’ football -- the small briefcase that the US president always carries with him containing launch codes for a nuclear attack in the event he needs to authorize one when away from the White House. The official regained his composure and told me he didn’t wish to be drawn into forbidden territory.

    So I asked him whether he was aware of a recent news story based on the testimony of Bob Graham, head of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, at a US Congressional hearing. The official said he was aware that Graham had said that Pakistan could surreptitiously slip nukes to the Taliban for use against India if a war-like situation were to develop between India and Pakistan. He also said that such fears were real, and the very fact that a US lawmaker had spoken about it lent authenticity to such a scenario.

    I disagree, and explained why this ‘real’ threat was not actually all that real. To set off a nuclear weapon, first the secret PIN of the weapon has to be fed into its control system. Every single nuke has a PIN and the football is nothing but a compilation of these PINs. The Indian prime minister controls the nuclear button, while in the case of Pakistan this prerogative is with the chief of army staff. No jihadi outfit can have access to the PIN, until and unless it is given to them by the Pakistani army chief. Pakistan is a professional army and it knows that it will not be able to deny its complicity if the jihadis were to explode a nuclear bomb on India. Under that eventuality, India would no longer be constricted by its unilaterally announced ‘no first use’ policy and would have full right to launch a quick and comprehensive nuclear attack on Pakistan.

    The official listened to me attentively as I spoke for about ten minutes on why Pakistan covertly slipping over a nuclear bomb to jihadis was a red herring. At the end of it, he came to the door to see me off but I remained as uneducated on the question I put him as when I had entered his room. Will someone answer my question? Let there be light!


    http://the-diplomat.com/indian-decade/2010/06/12/the-nuclear-football/

    ---

    As to the actual answer, Nobody will be able to tell you about whether we have one or not. But as to if we should, definitely, yes.
     
  10. sayareakd

    sayareakd Moderator Moderator

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    Well Indian Prime Minister with SPG guys carry some kind of equipment just like this one
    [​IMG]

    more like secure communication equipment one can see this, every time our PM goes abroad his SPG guys carry one behind him saw so many times.

    As far as the issue if it is football, well our nukes are not hot like those of big 5, since our nukes are not mated with delivery system, therefore no need to send code from PM at present, may be when ATV would be commission and nukes are put into it, they DRDO have to make one for the PM.
     
  11. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Thanks for the information Mr. Sayare. I never noticed members of our PM's retinue carrying such things; perhaps I did not pay much attention. I am sure such communication equipment are necessary given the threats we face, especially the vulnerable arsenal of Pakistan and speculation of them possibly falling into irresponsible hands.
     
  12. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Pmaitra, please give link to post #3..

    this line interests me " General Mullick had hinted about the possible use of nuclear weapons to defeat the intensified Kashmiri's armed struggle in the occupied state."
     
  13. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I apologise Yusuf. I usually provide links, but I forgot to put one in post #3. I have edited that post and included the link now.
     
  14. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Thanks mate. The reason I asked was the statement attributed to Gen Mallick. What's the veracity of his claim? Indian intention to use on its own soil to eliminate separatists.
     
  15. Iamanidiot

    Iamanidiot Elite Member Elite Member

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    May be wants to vaporize pindi head quarters.Most Indian army officers are quite allergic to Pakistani officers
     
  16. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Well you see, there are pacifists and warmongers in Pakistani Defense establishment, just like any other nation. As far as I know, India will not use nukes first. Let me speculate a bit:
    • Maybe India is willing to go to any extent to preserve its grip on Kashmir, even if it means using nuclear weapons. Maybe it is true, because deception is part of diplomacy. Maybe 'no first use' policy is there only to win international accolades, for the time being.
    • This could be part of a campaign to convince people that India plans on using nuclear weapons in Kashmir, which would cause large scale destruction of life in Kashmir.
    • Maybe it is part of a campaign to sideline a portion of the Pakistani Defense establishment that still has hope in a peaceful future for both the countries. I can think of Asghar Khan on the top of my head.

    Really, I do not know if the claims that any Indian General would hint such a thing is true or not.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2011
  17. spikey360

    spikey360 Crusader Senior Member

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    I do not know if any of you have observed recently or not, but the Prime Minister's contingent now carries a medium sized leather bag, though it is slim and unlikely to be containing the things a Nuclear Football should contain.

    On the other hand, are you aware of the Soviet Dead Hand or Perimeter systems?
    This is incredibly interesting and very real.
    Dead Hand
     

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