A disturbing but not surprising piece of news was conveyed by a reliable non-Western, non-Indian government source. The Strategic Plans Division, Chaklala, Pakistan Army — that country’s nuclear secretariat responsible for strategic planning, and operational readiness of that country’s nuclear forces, has been preoccupied with building with China’s expert and material help and technical assistance a Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Testing facility. This DARHT installed in the underground nuclear complex at Golra, will soon be commissioned. In the absence of physical testing, the DARHT facility will help the Pakistani nuclear weaponeers improve their weapons designs and refine their yields. DARHT only provides more evidence for what I have always maintained that, unlike India, Pakistan is very serious about nuclear security, takes nothing for granted, and will not risk weapons that may work well on paper but not as well in reality. The DARHT will propel Pakistan past India in the quality of its nuclear arsenal. What to talk of China, Indian nuclear weaponry may not even stand up to Pakistan’s inventory. The fabled China-Pakistan nuclear nexus, in the event, would become well nigh insurmountable.
Meanwhile, the weapons directorate at BARC, Trombay — severely neglected by New Delhi, languishes — unable anymore to attract the best and the brightest from among the talent pool recruited by DAE because there are no technical challenges to overcome, no forward-looking agenda to realize. India, thus keeps sliding strategically on the nuclear military front and, with the Modi-Obama nuclear compromise, in the civilian nuclear energy sphere, as well. And, the most disastrous thing to happen to the country’s nuclear programme — Dr R Chidambaram continues as Science and technology adviser to PM Modi and, like Nero, fiddles as the Indian nuclear energy programme burns.