India’s secret nuclear city: Truth behind the curtains

By Beenish Altaf

It is necessary to draw attention of the international arena towards Indian growing nuclear desires that would have serious implications for the regional security and strategic stability. Pakistan’s former foreign office spokesman, Mr. Nafis Zakaria actually disclosed the secret of Indian clandestine involvement in the establishment of a huge nuclear city at Chellakere, Karnataka also called as ‘Thermonuclear City’.

Although the information on the subject is kept under the wraps by Indian officials but the known facts/reports have been leaked by certain concerned groups. In this regard, the news got exposed in 2012 initially by independent researchers and retired Indian military analysts and scientists working on Indian growing nuclear facilities. There are two agencies involved in the project that are operating secretively. It is believed to be the largest military complex in the subcontinent involved in the weapons, technologies testing, atomic research laboratories aircraft testing facilities, and military–run complex of nuclear centrifuges. It would also expand the Indian government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for India’s nuclear reactors, and to help power the country’s fleet of new nuclear submarines.

The aim and objective behind Indian aspirations is to match a number to number nuclear weapons capability with China primarily but is equally implacable to Pakistan as well. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 2018 report, released recently narrates about Indian stock of nuclear warheads that it is even more than a 100 warheads, which is quite an alarming ultimatum. Likewise, India has been reported to be on the top five countries that are involved in arms imports which altogether account for 35% of totals arms imports in the world.

The expansion of India’s thermonuclear program would position the country alongside the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France, and Israel, which already have significant stockpiles of such nuclear weapons.

Since India is already expanding its size of nuclear arsenals, the existence of India’s secret nuclear city draws attention towards India’s desire to become a global power. According to Indian media reports, the nuclear city close to Chellakere is ringed by a security perimeter of thousands of military and paramilitary guards. One should welcome India’s overreaching nuclear ambitions but it should not be at the cost of betraying regional peace and stability. Ironically, its excuse of matching the nuclear arsenal of China and Pakistan does not cut ice, owing to the fact that number-game matters little while attaining a credible nuclear weapons capability.

However, due to above mentioned espousing weaponry expansion and military enlargement by India, it became compulsory for Pakistan to respond to these threats at the tactical level, the counter-force level, and the counter-value level. It needs to cover all levels of threat. Pakistan calls its weapons as Weapons of Peace that reduces the threat and probability of a full-fledge war.  It should be taken into account that the strategic stability in South Asia was not just about Pakistan and India; instead it involves China and the US into the sphere.

Paradoxically, despite bringing all the above issue into lime light, Western concerns are not up to the mark in bringing in India into the mainstream of nuclear safety and security culture. Contrarily, Pakistan’s nuclear concerns remained on the US screens yet in the absence of any recognized security failure the Western think tanks continued to pressurize Pakistan in or the other way to move towards limiting its element of sovereignty. No matter what the verdicts were: either to roll back or cap off, or to normalize or limit the nuclear weapons. Well, conspicuously the US is not forcing India to take any precautionary and safety measures, the way that it should. The US administration is instead going to avoid any friction that might disrupt a planned expansion of US military sales to India.

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Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf is working as a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute, an Islamabad based think tank. Her areas of research are nuclear non-proliferation and strategic issues of South Asia. She has a masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University.

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