If the Donald Trump Resumes U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing, India Will Follow
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According to media reports, the Trump administration had serious discussions on May 15 whether the informal ban on conducting an explosion of nuclear tests should be broken or not. Washington's intent to resume nuclear tests threatens to exacerbate the growing strategic tensions with China, Russia and others. Some analysts have understood that this is an appropriate way to influence Russia and China and to support Washington's plan for trilateral talks on nuclear arms control and disarmament issues.
During the Cold War, hundreds of nuclear tests were carried out by the United States and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union announced a unilateral moratorium in 1991, the United States under H.W. The Bush administration replied to a moratorium on nuclear tests. The suspension of nuclear tests gave the world diplomatic space to start negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to impose a general ban on test explosions of nuclear weapons. Russia and all NATO members except the United States have already ratified the CTBT. This recent move by the United States to resume nuclear testing may also contribute to the broader attempt to sabotage the CTBT agenda.
Lassina Zerbo, head of the Organization of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBTO), has predicted that any attempt by the United States to restart nuclear testing would have serious consequences for global peace and security. Zerbo mentioned CTBTO's close relationship with the US National Laboratories and categorically excluded the idea of a requirement for nuclear testing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has also expressed "serious concerns about the report." He urged the Trump administration to "honor its reasonable commitments and honor their commitments by upholding the CTBT's purpose and purpose." During the current strategic competition of the major powers, an uncertain situation has arisen regarding any political gains for Washington against Moscow or Shanghai with a nuclear test. The most plausible consequence of a nuclear explosion in the United States at this time will make it easier for other countries to resume nuclear testing. Washington has been criticized by other nuclear weapon states for violating the moratorium on nuclear testing that has been practiced by all countries except North Korea since 1998.
Robert Rosner, professor of physics at the University of Chicago, has assessed that after the United States, others will be doing nuclear tests again and "the key question is: who are the others?" In the South Asian strategic scenario, India will be the other country. India, one of the fastest developing nuclear weapon states in the world, has long waited for such a mistake, especially from the United States, to undo the promise of non-nuclear testing. This was not possible just because it wants to become part of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and other global regimes. Once the United States resumes nuclear testing, India will find it easier to further demonstrate its nuclear capability.
This recent paradigm shift in the United States enables India to conduct further nuclear tests to assess the design of its thermonuclear weapon, which it allegedly detonated in Operation Shakti-1 on May 11, 1998. Numerous international experts believe that the results of the thermonuclear test were inflated and doubt that the device successfully ignited the second fusion stage of the explosion. The scientific community that coordinated Operation Shakti-1 in 1998 concluded that the test failed because the fusion device's yield never produced the desired results.
Nuclear experts in India have already set up a comprehensive and robust nuclear facility to meet any eventuality that could offer India the opportunity to conduct further nuclear tests. For example, in 2012 Karnataka, India's secret nuclear city in Challakere, was unveiled by independent researchers. Experts have expressed concerns that the facility will be a major complex of nuclear-controlled nuclear centrifuges, along with nuclear research laboratories, weapons and aircraft test sites. Once put into operation, the facility would allow India to modernize its existing nuclear warheads, and the nuclear fuel from its domestic reserves will be used for a thermonuclear weapon. India is also working on a uranium enrichment facility from which it can produce about twice as much weapons-grade uranium as New Delhi needs for its nuclear weapons operational program. This significant excess of enriched uranium would be used for the development of nuclear weapons.
India has already done the homework necessary to manipulate every step the United States could take in the near future. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has signaled the ability to conduct further nuclear tests at short notice. If India changes the status of its moratorium on nuclear testing, it would not only disrupt the deterrent balance, but above all would trigger a new nuclear arms race in South Asia. Under the guise of growing strategic ties between India and the United States in the region, the United States is offering a free trip to India to improve nuclear capabilities by resuming nuclear tests. It is strategically advisable that the U.S. national interest honor its commitments to unilaterally pledge non-nuclear tests when ratifying the CTBT. The United States should also urge India to continue its nuclear test moratorium, which was the main prerequisite for the 2008 US-India nuclear deal. It will strengthen global standards against nuclear testing and promote regional stability.
Hasan Ehtisham is a M. Phil Fellow in Defense and Strategic Studies from Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.
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