Why blow the whistle 11 years later? Think President Obama’s initiative to revive the CTBT. By rubbishing the Pokhran II tests as a failure, India’s nuclear hawks hope to make the case for more nuclear tests. Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, in Outlook:
Suspicion has now turned into confirmed fact: India’s hydrogen bomb test of May 1998 was not the fantastic success it was claimed to be. Last week’s dramatic revelation by K. Santhanam, a senior DRDO official with important responsibilities at the 1998 Pokhran test site, has essentially confirmed conclusions known from seismic analysis after the explosion.
Instead of 45 kilotons of destructive energy, the explosion had produced only 15 to 20. The bomb had not worked as designed.
Why blow the whistle 11 years later? An irresistible urge to tell the truth or moral unease is scarcely the reason. Santhanam’s ‘coming clean’ has the stamp of approval of the most hawkish of Indian nuclear hawks. Among them are P.K. Iyengar, A.N. Prasad, Bharat Karnad and Brahma Chellaney.
By rubbishing the earlier test as a failure, they hope to make the case for more nuclear tests. This would enable India to develop a full-scale thermonuclear arsenal.
As is well known, a thermonuclear (or hydrogen) bomb is far more complex than the relatively simple fission weapon first tested by India in 1974 and by Pakistan in 1998. Advanced weapons needs fine-tuning to achieve their full destructiveness – France had to test 22 times to achieve perfection. More: