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Weapons Of Peace: How Raj Chengappa Uncovered the Hidden History of India's Nuclear Ambitions

Weapons Of Peace: Raj Chengappa's Book on India's Nuclear Program

India is one of the nine countries in the world that possess nuclear weapons. It has a complex and controversial history of developing and testing its nuclear arsenal, which has shaped its national security and foreign policy. How did India acquire nuclear weapons? What are the motivations and challenges behind its nuclear program? What are the implications of its nuclear status for its regional and global role?

Weapons Of Peace Raj Chengappa Pdf 21

In this article, we will explore these questions by reviewing a book titled Weapons Of Peace: The Secret Story of India's Quest to Be a Nuclear Power, written by Raj Chengappa, a veteran journalist and editor. We will provide an overview of the book, its author, and its significance. We will also summarize the main themes and arguments of the book, covering the history, the present, and the future of India's nuclear program. Finally, we will conclude with some insights and suggestions for further reading.


What is Weapons Of Peace?

Weapons Of Peace is a book that tells the story of India's nuclear program from its inception in 1947 to its culmination in 1998, when India conducted five underground nuclear tests at Pokhran, a desert site in Rajasthan. The book is based on extensive research and interviews with more than 100 scientists, politicians, diplomats, military officers, and other key players involved in India's nuclear journey. It reveals many secrets and details that were previously unknown or classified, such as how India built its nuclear bomb, how it evaded international sanctions and surveillance, how it prepared for and executed its nuclear tests, how it dealt with the domestic and international reactions, and how it formulated its nuclear doctrine and strategy.

Who is Raj Chengappa?

Raj Chengappa is an Indian journalist and author who has been covering national security and foreign affairs for more than three decades. He is currently the group editorial director of India Today, a leading media house in India. He was previously the editor-in-chief of The Tribune, a newspaper based in Chandigarh. He has also worked as a correspondent for India Today in Washington DC, London, Colombo, Islamabad, Kathmandu, and Beijing. He has won several awards for his journalism, including the Prem Bhatia Award for Excellence in Reporting in 1998 for his coverage of India's nuclear tests.

Why is this book important?

This book is important for several reasons. First, it is one of the most comprehensive and authoritative accounts of India's nuclear program, which is often shrouded in secrecy and mystery. It provides a wealth of information and insights that are not available elsewhere. Second, it is a well-written and engaging narrative that captures the drama, the suspense, the intrigue, and the emotions of India's nuclear saga. It brings to life the personalities, the events, the challenges, and the achievements of India's nuclear journey. Third, it is a timely and relevant book that sheds light on the current and future issues and debates surrounding India's nuclear status, such as its relations with its neighbors, its role in the global order, its technological and economic development, and its ethical and moral dilemmas.

The History of India's Nuclear Program

The Early Years: 1947-1974

The Atomic Energy Commission

India's nuclear program began soon after its independence from British colonial rule in 1947. The first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a visionary leader who saw the potential of atomic energy for peaceful and developmental purposes. He established the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1948, with the mandate to promote research and development in nuclear science and technology. He appointed Homi Bhabha, a brilliant physicist and a close friend, as the chairman of the AEC. Bhabha laid the foundation of India's nuclear program by setting up various institutions, such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET), and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He also devised a three-stage nuclear power program that aimed to utilize India's abundant thorium resources for generating electricity.

The First Nuclear Test: Pokhran-I

While India pursued nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it also kept an eye on the military dimension of nuclear technology. India was concerned about the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, which threatened global peace and security. India was also worried about the nuclear ambitions of its neighbor China, which tested its first nuclear weapon in 1964. India felt that it needed to have a credible nuclear deterrent to safeguard its national interests and sovereignty. However, India faced many challenges in acquiring nuclear weapons, such as lack of resources, international pressure, domestic opposition, and moral qualms.

Despite these challenges, India secretly developed its first nuclear device under the leadership of Raja Ramanna, a physicist and a protégé of Bhabha. The device was codenamed "Smiling Buddha" and was designed as a "peaceful nuclear explosion" for civil engineering purposes. On May 18, 1974, India detonated the device at Pokhran, becoming the sixth country in the world to conduct a nuclear test. The test was hailed as a scientific achievement and a political statement by India, but it also provoked condemnation and criticism from many countries, especially the United States, which imposed sanctions and restrictions on India's nuclear program.

The Middle Years: 1974-1998

The Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Technology Denial Regime

After India's first nuclear test in 1974, the international community tried to prevent further proliferation of nuclear weapons by creating new norms and regimes. One of them was the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a group of countries that agreed to control the export of nuclear materials and technology to non-nuclear weapon states. The NSG imposed strict conditions on India's access to nuclear fuel and equipment, which hampered India's civilian nuclear program. India also faced a technology denial regime from other countries that denied or delayed the transfer of advanced technology to India in various fields, such as space, defense, computers, and biotechnology.

The Secret Nuclear Program: Pokhran-II

Despite the international isolation and pressure, India did not give up its nuclear ambitions. It continued to develop its nuclear weapons program in secrecy and defiance. It also sought to diversify its sources of nuclear technology and material from other countries, such as France, Russia, Israel, and South Africa. The main architect of India's secret nuclear program was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a scientist and an engineer who later became the president of India. Kalam led a team of scientists and engineers who worked on designing and building more advanced and powerful nuclear devices than the one tested in 1974.

as a nuclear power and a global player. He also felt that India needed to respond to the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan in 1990, which were not detected by the international community. Vajpayee authorized the nuclear tests, codenamed "Operation Shakti", and gave the green signal to Kalam and his team.

On May 11 and 13, 1998, India conducted five underground nuclear tests at Pokhran, three on the first day and two on the second day. The tests involved three types of devices: a fission device, a thermonuclear device, and a low-yield device. The tests were a success and demonstrated India's mastery of nuclear technology and capability. The tests were also a shock and a surprise to the world, especially to the United States, which failed to anticipate or detect them. The tests triggered a wave of reactions and repercussions from various countries, ranging from praise and support to condemnation and sanctions.

The Recent Years: 1998-Present

The Nuclear Doctrine and the No First Use Policy

After conducting the nuclear tests in 1998, India declared itself as a nuclear weapon state and announced its nuclear doctrine and policy. The doctrine was based on the principle of "minimum credible deterrence", which meant that India would maintain a sufficient and survivable nuclear arsenal to deter any nuclear attack or coercion against it. The doctrine also stated that India would follow a "no first use" policy, which meant that India would not use nuclear weapons first against any country, but would retaliate with massive retaliation if attacked with nuclear weapons. The doctrine also affirmed India's commitment to global disarmament and non-proliferation, and its willingness to negotiate a universal and verifiable nuclear weapons convention.

The Civil Nuclear Deal and the International Cooperation

After declaring its nuclear status in 1998, India faced several challenges and opportunities in integrating itself with the international nuclear order. One of the major challenges was to overcome the sanctions and restrictions imposed by the NSG and other countries on India's civilian nuclear program. One of the major opportunities was to cooperate with other countries in the field of nuclear energy and technology for mutual benefit. India pursued both these goals with diplomacy and pragmatism.

In 2005, India and the United States signed a landmark agreement to cooperate in civil nuclear energy, known as the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal. The deal was a recognition of India's responsible behavior and exceptional record in nuclear non-proliferation. The deal also provided India with access to nuclear fuel and technology from other countries for its civilian nuclear program, without requiring India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or place all its nuclear facilities under international safeguards. The deal was approved by the US Congress in 2008, after a long and contentious debate. The deal also required India to obtain a waiver from the NSG, which was granted in 2008, after intense negotiations and lobbying by India and its supporters.

Since then, India has signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with several other countries, such as France, Russia, Canada, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom. India has also joined various international forums and initiatives related to nuclear security and safety, such as the Nuclear Security Summit, the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India has also expressed its interest in joining the NSG as a full member, but faces opposition from some countries, especially China.

The Challenges and Opportunities for India's Nuclear Future

The Regional and Global Security Environment

The Pakistan Factor and the Kashmir Issue

One of the most pressing challenges for India's nuclear future is its relationship with its neighbor Pakistan, which also possesses nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan have fought four wars since their independence in 1947, three of them over the disputed territory of Kashmir. The Kashmir issue remains unresolved and continues to be a source of tension and violence between the two countries. Both countries have deployed their nuclear weapons along their border and have developed various delivery systems, such as missiles, aircrafts, submarines, and artillery shells. Both countries have also adopted different doctrines and postures regarding their nuclear weapons use. While India follows a no first use policy, Pakistan does not rule out using nuclear weapons first in case of a conventional war with India.

The risk of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan is high due to several factors, such as miscalculation, miscommunication, misperception, escalation, and terrorism. The two countries have experienced several crises and near-misses in the past, such as the Kargil War in 1999, the Parliament Attack in 2001, the Mumbai Attacks in 2008, and the Pulwama Attack in 2019. The two countries have also engaged in several confidence-building measures and dialogue processes to reduce the nuclear danger and improve their relations, but these have been sporadic and fragile. The two countries need to resume and sustain their dialogue and cooperation on nuclear issues, such as establishing hotlines, exchanging information, reducing alert levels, and agreeing on a nuclear restraint regime.

The China Factor and the Border Dispute

Another major challenge for India's nuclear future is its relationship with its other neighbor China, which is a nuclear superpower and a rising global power. India and China have a long and complex history of interactions, marked by both cooperation and competition. The two countries share a long and disputed border, which was the site of a war in 1962 and several skirmishes since then. The border dispute remains unresolved and continues to be a source of friction and conflict between the two countries. The two countries also have divergent interests and perspectives on various regional and global issues, such as trade, investment, infrastructure, connectivity, security, governance, and norms.

The balance of power between India and China is asymmetric and dynamic. China has a larger and more advanced nuclear arsenal than India, as well as a stronger economy and military. China also has a strategic partnership with Pakistan, which complicates India's security calculus. India has been trying to modernize and diversify its nuclear capabilities to maintain a credible deterrence against China, as well as to enhance its status and influence in the region and the world. India has also been seeking to cooperate with other countries that share its concerns about China's rise and behavior, such as the United States, Japan, Australia, and Vietnam.

The US Factor and the Strategic Partnership

A key opportunity for India's nuclear future is its relationship with the United States, which is a nuclear superpower and a leading global power. India and the United States have a long and varied history of interactions, marked by both convergence and divergence. The two countries have different political systems, cultures, values, and histories. The two countries also have different roles and responsibilities in the global order. However, the two countries also share many common interests and aspirations, such as democracy, development, diversity, stability, security, prosperity, innovation, and leadership.

energy, science, technology, and space. The two countries have also established a strategic partnership that aims to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. The two countries have also supported each other's aspirations and interests in various multilateral forums and initiatives, such as the United Nations, the G20, the Quad, and the Climate Action Summit.

The relationship between India and the United States is not without challenges and uncertainties. The two countries have different views and approaches on some issues, such as trade, human rights, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The two countries also face domestic and external pressures and constraints that may affect their policies and actions. The two countries need to manage their differences and leverage their strengths to enhance their cooperation and partnership on nuclear and other issues.

The Technological and Economic Development

The Indigenous Innovation and the Self-Reliance

One of the main drivers of India's nuclear program is its quest for indigenous innovation and self-reliance. India has always valued its autonomy and sovereignty in pursuing its national interests and goals. India has also faced many challenges and obstacles in acquiring nuclear technology and material from other countries due to political, economic, or strategic reasons. India has therefore developed its own capabilities and capacities in nuclear science and technology through research and development, experimentation and testing, learning and adaptation, and collaboration and cooperation.

India has achieved remarkable feats of indigenous innovation and self-reliance in its nuclear program. India has built its own nuclear reactors, fuel cycles, weapons, delivery systems, command and control structures, and safety and security mechanisms. India has also developed its own human resources, institutions, infrastructure, and culture for its nuclear program. India has also contributed to the global advancement of nuclear science and technology by sharing its knowledge, expertise, experience, and resources with other countries.

The Renewable Energy and the Climate Change

One of the main challenges of India's nuclear program is its compatibility with renewable energy and climate change. India is one of the largest consumers and producers of energy in the world. It is also one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. India faces a dilemma between meeting its growing energy demand for its economic development and social welfare, and reducing its environmental impact for its ecological sustainability and global responsibility. India has to balance its energy mix between fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy sources.

India has been pursuing nuclear energy as a clean and reliable source of electricity for its domestic consumption and industrial production. India has also been exploring renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal as alternatives or supplements to nuclear energy. India has set ambitious targets for increasing its renewable energy capacity and reducing its carbon footprint. India has also joined various international efforts and initiatives to combat climate change and promote green growth, such as the Paris Agreement, the International Solar Alliance, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.

The Ethical and Moral Dilemmas

The Non-Proliferation and the Disarmament

and unfair, as it legitimizes the nuclear monopoly of a few countries and denies the nuclear rights of others. India also argues that the NPT has failed to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons to other countries, such as Pakistan and North Korea. India also claims that it has a better record of non-proliferation than some of the NWS, as it has never transferred or leaked its nuclear technology or material to any other country or entity.

India has also been advocating for global nuclear disarmament, which is the ultimate goal of the NPT. India believes that nuclear weapons are immoral and inhuman, and pose a grave threat to humanity and civilization. India has proposed various initiatives and resolutions for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world, such as the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan in 1988, the New Agenda Coalition in 1998, and the Working Paper on Nuclear Disarmament in 2006. India has also supported various treaties and conventions that ban or limit the use or testing of nuclear weapons, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The Humanitarian and Environmental Impact

Another dilemma of India's nuclear program is its impact on human lives and natural resources. India has witnessed the devastating effects of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and has experienced the tragic consequences of nuclear accidents at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011. In

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