Army should be confident of India’s nuclear arsenal: Kakodkar


New Delhi : Seeking to put questions raised about India’s nuclear deterrence at rest, former Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar has said the army should be “fully confident” as there is no doubt about the nuclear arsenal at their command.

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“I think that is guaranteed. The army should be fully confident. There is no doubt about the arsenal at their command,” he told Karan Thapar in an interview on the “Devil’s Advocate” programme Sunday on CNN-IBN.

He was responding to a question on former army chief V.P. Malik’s remarks that nuclear scientists should assure the armed forces about the efficacy of the thermonuclear device.

Rubbishing claims by scientists K. Santhanam and P.K. Iyenger that the 1998 thermo-nuclear tests by India were duds, Kakodkar has rejected their demands for a review. He asserted that the country has several hydrogen bombs with a yield “much more” than 45 kilotons.

Kakodkar said that Iyengar did not know very much about 1998 tests and was, therefore, “in no position to talk”. Santhanam only knew about the thermo-nuclear test on a need-to-know basis and, therefore, he too did not know everything, he added.

Kakodkar, who retired as AEC chief Nov 30, contended that India has several thermo-nuclear bombs and their yield is well above 50 kilotons each.

Dismissing the claim made by Santhanam, a defence scientist, and Iyengar, a former chairman of the AEC, that the yield of the thermo-nuclear test was only 20-25 kilotons and not 45 kilotons, Kakodkar said the AEC has six separate ways of measuring the yield and they all came to the same conclusion – i.e. 45 kilotons.

Kakodkar said the DRDO seismic instruments, which Santhanam is relying on to measure the yield, were flawed.

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has also defended India’s nuclear deterrence capability, saying the only thermonuclear device tested in 1998 produced the “design yield” sufficient for producing thermonuclear bombs.

The controversy erupted in August when Santhanam, who coordinated the Pokhran II tests and a former official with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), told a seminar in New Delhi that the only thermonuclear device tested was a “fizzle”. A test is described as a fizzle when it fails to meet the desired yield.