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Friday, April 20, 2007

What Matters is Capability, Actual Deployment Matters Less

Show of capabilities is everything in geopolitics

Commenting on an article by Messrs Basrur & Tang about the impact of Agni III test on Indo-China strategic relations, Nitin, at The Acorn, rightly observed that the authors ignored to consider India's concern about Chinese encirclement activities in South Asia in their balance sheet of issues concerning the two nations while making their call for genuine reconciliation between the two.

Nitin goes on to say a test is just a technology demonstrator and implies that it should have little bearing on geopolitics between the two countries. I am not so sure. In fact, testing to demonstrate capabilities is a primary driver of geopolitics, beyound articulating a particular notion (as described by Maverick).

The 50-year cold war was initiated between Soviet Union and US, and the western Europe, primary because of technology demonstration of what nuclear weapons could do. Stalin ramped up his efforts to acquire atomic and hydrogen bombs, by mainly invoking spies in UK and US, even before Truman had deployed or used the nuclear weapons in Japan.

India is a test case on how global geopolitics are altered after a technology demonstration. Post Pokharan I of '74, entire non-proliferation regime was build around India's capabilities - to thwart and roll back its nuclear technology. China started supplying its nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan in response to these test. This when India did not build up or deploy of any nuclear weapons. India, which had put the whole strategic nuclear enterprise in cold-storage until mid-80s, reinitiated its nuclear project only after it become clear that China was going all out to make Pakistan a nuclear weapon state. All these developments were based on demonstration of technology, not actual deployment of weapons.

It is likely China is going to react to India's Agni III tests. China may not react as Rajiv Singh discusses in his article on the ripple effects of the test because Chinese almost never concede anything in negotiations without taking something first. Its likely going to react by enhancing Pakistan strike capability, improve its own triad capability, and likely point a few new nuclear-tipped missiles at Indian cities. Numbers and targets may vary based on mutual deployment positions, but Chinese actions will come much earlier than actual Indian deployment.

Irrespective of how the media reports the testing, India is better of conducting few more flight testings in quick succession to perfect the missile technology and deploy at rapid speed instead of taking years and years like we did to deploy Agni I and Agni II.


Apun Ka Desh said...

Very Good Analysis.
More people should read your blog!

Chandra said...

Thanks, apun ka desh.