Government warned against signing CTBT in haste

Feb 16, 2009
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Government warned against signing CTBT in haste,India and the World, News Analysis, India News Online

Government warned against signing CTBT in haste

Disputing the Department of Atomic Energy's claims that the 1998 nuclear tests at Pokhran have generated sufficient data, the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. P.K. Iyengar, has warned that India needs to test more hydrogen and neutron bombs before signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. India has tested five fission or atomic bombs (including Pokhr~n-I) and one fusion or hydrogen bomb so far. Mr. Iyengar was skeptical as to how India, on the basis of just one hydrogen bomb test, could claim that it had sufficient data for a nuclear weaponisation programme. Many more tests will be needed to try out different designs and to perfect a few of them, he told a workshop organized by a private think-tank, Security and Political Risk Analysis (SAPRA) in New Delhi.

If India wanted to develop a credible minimum nuclear deterrent, it could not sign the CTBT, he cautioned. Scientific data indicated that the core of the hydrogen bomb had burnt only partially during the test. The bomb design included two components - a boosted fission device (a small atomic bomb) that triggered the secondary core of the hydrogen or fusion bomb. The boosted fission device released about 20 kilotons (kt) of energy that triggered the fusion core that produced another 20 kt, giving a total yield of about 40 kt. This indicated that only about 400 grams of the fusion device had burnt. "There was only a partial burning. I doubt if a complete burn wave was established," he said, adding that larger negation devices could not be made with such partial-burn type devices. India needed to test more hydrogen and neutron bombs with complete burning of the core before it signed the CTBT. India cannot stop here. India must continue testing with improved designs so that there is total burn and fusion yield is higher," he said.

"Many more tests will be needed to try out different designs like boosted-fission device, the neutron bomb which India is yet to test." Mr. Iyengar said even if the designs had been perfected, India must have a delivery system that could be used by the Army. It also needed to address the issue of a safe and reliable command and control system, before signing the CTBT. "Pakistan's command and control systems are in a better shape"

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