A threat to the South Asian peace

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Ali Sukhanver:

The war against Pakistan’s nuclear program seems more vibrant and more violent and certainly more popular than the international war against terrorism. These two wars are being headed by two different countries separately; one is the super power of today and the other is aspiring to be the super power of tomorrow. The most interesting fact is that both these countries, the USA and India are apparently fighting on different fronts but inwardly they have the same target; same aim and the same object; the one and the only Pakistan. It is a very common feeling in Pakistan that the US policies and the Indian conspiracies have joined hands together, simply to weaken Pakistan. On one hand USA is showing its concern over the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets and on the other hand India is encouraging and strengthening the extremist elements in Pakistan to proceed towards these assets. Ironically India has completely ignored the safety of its own nuclear program in its heat and haste and this nuclear program has become a security threat not only to all her neighbors but to the total peace in the South Asia. Neglecting the safety of its already existing nuclear arsenals, India is trying to add more to its nuclear strength by doing more pacts and by starting new nuclear plans.

According to the media reports, on December 7, 2009.an agreement was reached in Moscow between India and Russia, under which India would get four more nuclear reactors from Russia. At the same time, in New Delhi, a US Commercial Nuclear Mission told the media that, under the US-India nuclear deal, a minimum of 12 plants would be set up, with the work on them starting in 2010-2011. Some other nuclear agreements of the same type were also reported by the media; most important of them were between India and France, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Mongolia and Canada. According to many impartial analysts, it would have been much better if India had concentrated upon the safety of its already existing nuclear assets instead of doing new agreements in this respect. The Kaiga incident is the worst example of unsafe and insecure nuclear program of India. The Kaiga Nuclear plant is located near one of the biggest Indian naval bases, Project Seabird.

As per details provided by the Indian newspapers, a few months back , the authorities hit the alarm button when the staff and workers at the Kaiga nuclear plant began to show above normal radiation levels. The investigators began to urgently comb the Kaiga nuclear complex for any signs of a radiation leak that could have exposed the staff to radioactivity. After the detailed examination of urine samples of more than 50 workers at the plant, they came to the conclusion that all the workers had used a particular water cooler. Surprisingly the cooler was locked and sealed and almost unapproachable to a common man. So the investigation team pointed out the hidden presence of someone who injected heavy water into the machine by using a pump. On the other hand, J .P Gupta, the director of the plant, denied there was any security lapse and said the effect of the contaminated water was minimal. Among those affected were contract laborers who are hired out locally. The statement of Mr.Gupta seems showing that the lives of ‘locally hired out’ labourers are not important and it is nothing to be worried about if such labourers are affected by the contaminated water. There is another part of his statement which has added more irony to the situation. He said, “Whoever did it perhaps knew doping the water cooler would not kill those who drank the water. It could have been intended to disrupt the plant’s functioning.”
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Troika on rampage

Sikander Shaheen | US covert organisation Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) notorious reputation to eliminate its ‘enemies’ is known well to the world and its intensive efforts, which have been underway since long, to form a vicious alliance with Israel and India have finally begun to show.

For the last couple of years, the United States has been immensely pressurising Iran to curtail its nuclear programme. However, after Iran has refused to succumb to Western pressures regarding UN-brokered deal about uranium enrichment and has placed certain conditions on nuclear fuel swamp, US and its Western allies are desperate to tighten the noose around the country. A prosperous nuclear Iran is seen as a major threat to US and Israel. To curtail this threat, both the countries have intensified ties with India and are using Afghanistan as an outfit to ‘tame’ Pakistan, Iran and China as well. To mention the most, Iran has lately confronted assassinations and abductions of its nuclear scientists.

After the assassination of prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Dr Massoud Ali-Mohammadi on January 12 last in a motorbike explosion in Tehran, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament Ali Larijani categorically accused Israel and CIA of the heinous killing. “We had received clear information a few days before the assassination that the intelligence service of the Zionist regime, with the cooperation of the CIA, were seeking to carry out a terrorist act in Tehran,” Larijani had told a news agency, a day after the killing took place.

Another nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri at Malek Ashtar University in Tehran was abducted while he was on his way to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage in June 2009. Iran had accused US of involvement in the abduction.

Back in 2007, Times Online reported that Ardeshire Hassanpour, a nuclear physicist, had been assassinated by Mossad, the notorious Israeli intelligence agency.

Hassanpour reportedly worked at a plant in Isfahan that produced and processed Uranium Hexafluoride gas required for enrichment of uranium in another Iranian plant. Rheva Bhalla of Stratfor, the US intelligence company, claimed then that Hassanpour had been targeted by Mossad and that there was “very strong intelligence” to suggest that he had been assassinated by the Israelis, who have repeatedly threatened to refrain Iran from acquiring the nuclear bomb.

Apart from that, as reported by US Homeland Security Newswire and local Indian media, Israel and India, in December last year, had a series of meetings of joint defence working group focussing counterterrorism and intelligence sharing, delivery of weapons and enhancement of cooperation in research and development. Chinese news agency Xinhuanet’s report quoted a defence official privy to the meeting as saying that the main focus of the talks was on enhancing the counterterrorism cooperation based on intelligence sharing in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks.

More importantly, this meeting followed a low-profile visit of Israeli Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Gabi Ashkenazi to India earlier in the same month, during which he had met the top brass of the Indian armed forces. According to the news service, these developments can be evaluated in the pretext of reports that India has bought military hardware and software from Israel worth $8bn since 1999, making India the biggest buyer of Israeli arms across the globe.

Given that the US barely sees any signs of success in its so-called war on terror in Afghanistan, US and Israel are encouraging Indian military and economic presence in Afghanistan to serve the purpose. While Pakistan is asked to ‘do more’ the US and India, with the help of pro-American Afghan government, are all set to engage ‘likeminded’ and moderate Taliban into talks, to use them for destabilising Pakistan and Iran.

Under the scenario, the situation deems fit into what is described by some analysts as FINISH plan, abbreviated from “financial ruin, infrastructure destruction, nuclear scientists elimination, Indian hegemony, seizing of physical nuclear weapons and harassing Pakistan’s leadership and its public.”

Myth of Indian nukes safety

There have been many accidents and thefts of uranium in India’s atomic research centres and other facilities giving rise to doubts about the security of Indian nukes. Risks related to India nuclear proliferation are many while their security arrangements are far from satisfactory. The world must take note of it before it is too late. On 29th December 2009, two research students died in the fire in laboratory of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) caused by an explosion, what was described as a ‘loud bang’. It is not yet clear if the bang was caused by an explosion or triggered by a chemical reaction, however this has exploded the myth of the security of India’s nukes. The centre’s director and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Sreekumar Banerjee said that the fire broke out at 12.05 hours in the lab on the third floor of the modular lab of BARC. However, two scientists associated with the centre have claimed that no research involving radioactive material is conducted in the modular lab. Nevertheless, security has been beefed up at BARC following intelligence inputs that the country’s prestigious nuclear facility faced terror threat.

On 25th November 2009, at the Kaiga Nuclear Power Station at Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada District, a water cooler was found contaminated with Tritium, which is a radioactive isotope of Hydrogen and is used in preparation of nuclear weapons and can cause damage to human body cells on consumption. This dangerous incident clearly pointed to a grave Indian security lapse regarding the safe custody of nuclear material. Reportedly over 50 employees were hospitalized due to consumption of contaminated water but the incident was downplayed by the authorities. Indian authorities and media were focusing on a possible act of sabotage by an insider who was supposedly able to steal a vile of Tritium and mix it with drinking water at the installation. Such a possibility cannot be ruled out as Indian workers in different organizations and service institutions are badly maltreated as part of Indian culture and social order where the elite class is considered the most privileged while the workers are treated with contempt and disdain. But such feeling in the staffers of nuclear installations and research centres is fraught with serious dangers.

On 30th November, Times of India had reported about radiation contamination at the Kaiga nuclear plant in Karnataka. The locals residing in surrounding area suffered heavy losses in the shape of casualties of inhabitants and livestock losses in crores of rupees. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had denied any radiation leakage and said there was nothing to worry about, but in the same breadth he said that he was briefed that it was a small matter of contamination and was not linked to any leak. In this regard global nuke experts were really astonished over Indian PM statement in which he tried to tone down the most serious crisis of India ie safety and security of Indian nuke plants. The newspaper had raised the question “whether we should consider that Manmohan Singh statement is a mater of poor knowledge, or extremists Hindu lobby present in the government was reluctant to share confidential nature of information with their Sikh Prime Minister”. According to another report, Kaiga incident was not the first accident that took place on November 30 this year but some 300 cases of similar nature have already been accounted for. The initial investigation of Kaiga incident disclosed that it was possibly an act of mischief and security breach too. Prithviraj Chavan, Minister of State in the Prime Minister‘s Office, had also confirmed in New Delhi while talking to the press that it was a breach of security. In fact, poor security arrangements have been noticed on various Indian nuke plants, and there are some important places where security cameras have not been installed.

The employees working on the nuke plants have been found stealing and selling Uranium in the local market. According to Hindustan Times, Navi Mumbai Crime Branch had arrested three people – Panvel-based gemologist Premsingh Savitri (40), Vashi-based transporter Srinivas Puryar and Ghatkopar resident Tulsidas Bhanushali a dealer in gunny bags – for illegal possession of 5 kg of depleted uranium. The police were trying to ascertain from where and how Savitri had stolen the uranium. Earlier also, son of an employee of Atomic Mineral Division (AMD) and one of those accused of stealing uranium “yellowcake” with seals of the AMD were found involved but the government failed to take action for the safety and security of the nuke plants.

IAEA is also aware of poor security measures of Indian nuke plants. A few years ago, a similar malicious act was observed in Tarapur atomic power sub-station where the culprits were dismissed after investigations by the Department of Atomic Energy. On June 13, 2009 Indian famous nuke scientist Lokanathan Mahalingam was found dead from Kali River. The scientist was working on Kaiga Atomic Power Station since last eight years. Reportedly, he was in possession of highly sensitive information. Anyhow, he was involved in training apprentices on a replica of the actual reactor. Though India is always raising doubts about safety of Pakistan’s nukes, yet fears abound that Maoists or other extremists may get uranium from the market to make dirty bombs. Former governor of Chhattisgarh, Lieutenant General (retd) KM Seth said: “Unfortunately, the threat to internal security from Naxalites has assumed dangerous proportions and can no longer be whisked away” Dr M Anwar on website ‘Discuss’ wrote: “Unfortunately Indian extremist groups are too rigid to realize the norms of civilized world. They are power hungry and can go to any extent to achieve their political goals. Hindu extremists who are running their own bomb factories may try to grab Indian nukes and the related nuclear material”.

It would be pertinent to mention here the US-India nuclear trade legislation granted India the benefits of being a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty without requiring it to meet all of the responsibilities expected of responsible states in this regard. India has even insisted that certain reactors would remain outside the purview of the IAEA. Knowing India’s past and being familiar with the fact that India remained outside the international nuclear mainstream since it misused Canadian and US peaceful nuclear assistance to conduct its 1974 nuclear bomb test, refused to sign the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and conducted additional nuclear tests in 1998. India had been cut off from most US civilian nuclear assistance since 1978 and most international assistance since 1992 because of these violations. But now the US and Nuclear Suppliers’ Group anticipate at least $100 billion purchases by India, which is has already spent $20 billion on purchase of sophisticated weaponry and has allocated additional $30 billion for buying aircraft, tanks, aircraft carriers and other conventional armament. This is the reason that the US and the West turn a blind eye to India’s aberrations and violations of international covenants. — Mohammad Jamil

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