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Feeding the Nuclear Fire

There are two fundamental questions at the core of the Indo-US nuclear agreement. The first is whether India needs nuclear energy for its development. A good case can be made that it does not. The second is whether the country needs nuclear weapons if it wants to live in peace with the world. Many believe, with good reason, that it does not. The answer to both questions that is offered by the deal is a future in which a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed India swaggers along in the shadow of the US. The choice could not be more stark.

Economics of Nuclear Power from Heavy Water Reactors

Using a discounted cash flow methodology, this paper performs a detailed analysis of the current costs of electricity from two of the Department of Atomic Energy's heavy water reactors. It compares these costs to that from a recently constructed coal-based thermal power plant. The cost so computed is a sensitive function of the discount rate (a measure of the value of capital) used and the results show that for realistic values of the discount rate, electricity from coal-based thermal power stations is cheaper than nuclear energy.

Scientists, Nuclear Weapons, and the Peace Movement

The greatest challenge any scientist interested in advancing nuclear disarmament in south Asia is to sensitise the public at large to nuclear perils. Technically trained people are especially crucial in spreading such awareness because within the existing structures of society, professional credentials largely determine how a person's opinion is perceived and received. Flashing professional credentials is a double-edged sword. The establishment can and does field large numbers of scientists to support their policies. Their prominence is why many people believe in profoundly wrong ideas about nuclear issues at times. Some examples of such mistaken ideas are nuclear weapons preserve peace and nuclear reactors generate cheap electricity. Many of these claims have been disproved by other scientists. But because scientists from powerful institutions like the DAE have much greater access to the media and are sometimes the only scientists that most people ever hear about, anti-establishment scientists face an uphill battle. One way to fight this unequal battle is for scientists to not limit themselves to nuclear weapons issues but also challenge the power of the establishment that manufactures and peddles these weapons in a variety of ways, including on ethical, moral, economic, environmental, and public health grounds.

Making Weapons, Talking Peace

Advice on nuclear issues in both Indian and Pakistan is dominated by the nuclear weapons complex, the military and the foreign ministries - institutions that have a vested interest in maintaining their power, influence and funding. To find a way forward both governments would do well to seek out other perspectives, find people outside government to develop new ideas, and encourage public debate.

Nuclear Early Warning in South Asia

India's 1999 Draft Nuclear Doctrine proposed the setting up of 'effective intelligence and early warning capabilities', to provide 'early warning, communications, damage/detonation assessment'. Pursuing this policy, India has started acquiring key components of such an early warning network, including the Green Pine radar from Israel. Pakistan too has hinted at matching Indian plans for putting in place early warning systems. Against this background this study examines the different ingredients that go into the setting up of early warning systems and assesses their effectiveness. Using the insights gained from the study it also draws policy inferences about the viability and advisability of early warning systems in south Asia.

Risks of a LOW Doctrine

There has not been adequate recognition of the progression in military control over India's nuclear arsenal, nor is there any systematic analysis of its implications. Part of the reason for this has been the repeated assertions of the existence of civilian control over these matters. However, over a period of time the gap between what civilian leaders know and what is actually done with nuclear weapons would become more pronounced and the views of military planners will greatly influence operational doctrines involving nuclear weapons. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by the military has several troubling implications, in particular the likelihood of the eventual adoption of a launch on warning (LOW) doctrine and the increased risk of accidental nuclear war.

Possession and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia

This paper examines some of operational requirements and the dangers that come with the possibility that in the foreseeable future India and Pakistan may deploy their nuclear arsenals. The authors first describe the analytical basis for the inevitability of accidents in complex high-technology systems. Then they turn to potential failures of nuclear command and control and early warning systems as examples. They go on to discuss the possibility and consequences of accidental explosions involving nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Finally some measures to reduce these risks are suggested.

South Asian Mode of Weaponisation

India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation by George Perkovich; University of California Press, published in India by Oxford University Press, pp 597, Rs 645.

Beyond Lahore: From Transparency to Arms Control

As the US and USSR did decades ago, India and Pakistan have started to turn to 'transparency' measures as a way to reassure themselves, and the international community, about the nuclear dangers they have created. These measures, however, do not confront the central fact that the two countries now have acquired the means to fight a nuclear war. The recent tests of Agni-II and Ghauri-II and references to Agni-III, Ghauri-III and Shaheen-I and II demonstrate just how little restraint the Lahore agreements impose on the two states continuing to develop their nuclear arsenals.


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