The Provocative False Sense of Security Projected By India’s Kashmir Bomb Shelter Warning

[SEE:  Indian Police Issue Advisory To Kashmir To Make Emergency Preparations To Survive Nuclear Attack]

bomb shelter kashmir

What India’s bomb shelters really mean

Boston Globe

By James Carroll

GLOBE CORRESPONDENT 

‘PEOPLE SHOULD construct basements where the whole family can stay for a fortnight.” So read an advisory issued recently by Indian civil defense officials, who recommend that residents of Kashmir prepare for nuclear war by building bomb shelters, stocked with food, water, “and ample candles and battery lights.” Recent border tensions between India and Pakistan — the death toll included a decapitated Indian soldier — have once more heightened the prospect of war over the disputed territory. The nuclear advisory continued, “Expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features.” But a consoling note was struck: “If the blast wave does not arrive within five seconds of the flash, you were far enough from the ground zero.”

Some in Indian-administered Kashmir criticized the advisory for ginning up fear and provoking Pakistan. It was unclear whether the warning represented low-level local anxiety or official concerns of the Indian government. But that ambiguity underscores the danger, since Pakistan, too, was no doubt left wondering what bomb shelters beyond the border portend. Pakistan is a first-strike nuclear power, whose overt policy allows for a pre-emptive attack on an enemy. Signals that India is seriously moving to protect its citizens ahead of a nuclear exchange can, in arms-control jargon, only add hair to Islamabad’s hair trigger.

We have seen this movie before. In 1961, President Kennedy warned of nuclear war, sparked by the Berlin crisis, between the United States and the Soviet Union. “Accordingly,” Kennedy announced, “I am now taking the following steps.” He tripled the draft call, increased the bomber force, and spoke of urgent new taxes. “We have another sober responsibility,” he added — and then called for a massive bomb shelter program. “In the event of an attack, the lives of those families which are not hit in a nuclear blast and fire can still be saved — if they can be warned to take shelter and if that shelter is available.” The next day, Kennedy requested from Congress more than $200 million in urgent shelter funding. A few weeks later, a “Life” magazine cover blared, “97 out of 100 people can be saved. Detailed plans for building shelters.” The magazine showed families living snugly in “a big pipe in the back yard under 3 feet of earth.”

Whether Kennedy knew it or not, the shelter program was an absurd fantasy. Americans blithely anticipated a post-nuclear world that, after a few weeks’ interruption, would go on as before. Survivors would emerge from carpeted holes to . . . what? No one was invited to imagine the actual effects of an all-out nuclear exchange — a scorched world overrun with insane fugitives, anarchy, poisoned air, mass radiation sickness, the destruction of everything of value. The shelter program protected not against nuclear bombs but against the reality of what those bombs would certainly do.

In fact, shelters were never meant to preserve life. They were part of the larger game of nuclear chicken, a way of taunting an adversary with one’s own readiness to travel the road all the way to perdition. You can hit us, but we can take it. In the next period of Cold War nuclear swashbuckling, in the early Reagan years, a Defense Department official blithely declared that by digging bomb shelters, Americans would do fine in the event of a Soviet attack. “If there are enough shovels to go around,” he told the journalist Robert Sheer, “everybody’s going to make it.”

Whether Kennedy knew it or not, the shelter program was an absurd fantasy.

Bomb shelters are a provocative form of denial. That is what makes any talk of them dangerous — nowhere more so than in Kashmir. India and Pakistan keep up their slow-motion dance of death, but they are not alone in this choreography. Between them, the two nations possess at most a few hundred nuclear weapons out of something like 20,000 still ticking away in the planet’s arsenals. Just as the idea that humans, hiding in well-stocked caves “for a fortnight,” can meaningfully outlast a nuclear war is a fantasy, so is the notion that the species itself can survive the continued possession of these weapons. Ground zero for this illusion is neither Islamabad nor New Delhi, but Washington.

Today, Americans have grown blase about this threat, which went unmentioned in President Obama’s recent inaugural address. Before a crowd in Prague four years ago, though, he saw the problem clearly, committing to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Until the United States recovers that sense of urgency, don’t expect the time bomb in India and Pakistan to be defused.

Get two weeks of FREE unlimited access to BostonGlobe.com. No credit card required.James Carroll’s column appears regularly in the Globe.

India Methodically Obtaining Elements of Survivable Nuclear Triad

[Russia handed-over its refitted INS Sindhurakshak submarine to India today (SEE:  Russia hands over refitted submarine to India).  The Sindhurakshak comes with tube-launchers for firing Klub-S cruise missiles vertically, underwater.  Some of the Klub series of missiles are 8.22 meters long.  The Indian K-15 that was launched from an underwater pontoon yesterday is merely 10 meters in length, a difference of less than 6 feet.  Perhaps this six feet was compensated for in the retrofit.  India’ navy dwarfs Pakistan’s.]

Indian underwater K-15 missile

(click for larger image) India’s underwater K-15 (code named B05) missile piercing the waters of the Bay of Bengal after it was launched from a submerged pontoon off the Visakhapatnam coast, on Sunday. Photo: DRDO

India successfully test-fires underwater missile

The Hindu

Y. MALLIKARJUN, T. S. SUBRAMANIAN

India on Sunday successfully test-fired the underwater ballistic missile, K-15 (code-named B05), off the Visakhapatnam coast, marking en end to a series of developmental trials.

In its twelfth flight trial, the 10-metre tall Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) lifted off from a pontoon, rose to an altitude of 20 km and reached a distance of about 700 km as it splashed down in the waters of the Bay of Bengal near the pre-designated target point.

According to scientific advisor to the Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat, the missile was tested for its full range of 700 km and the mission met all its objectives. He said the impact accuracy of the medium range strategic missile was in single digit.

With the completion of developmental trials, the process of integrating K-15 missile with INS Arihant, the indigenously-built nuclear submarine, will begin soon. As many as 12 nuclear-tipped missiles, each weighing six tonnes will be integrated with Arihant, which will be powered by an 80 MWt (thermal) reactor that uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.

India is only the fifth country to have such a missile — the other four are the United States, Russia, France and China.

Meanwhile the reactor has been integrated with the submarine and it was expected to go critical in May/ June 2013. Once that was done, the harbour trials will begin.

Besides Arihant, three other nuclear-powered submarines were being constructed — one at Visakhapatnam and two at Vadodara. India is also developing K-4 missile with a range of 3,000 km.

Egypt’s Explosive Mixture of Dictatorship and Democracy–Nothing But Bloodshed Remains

Opposition condemns state of emergency, holds Morsi responsible for unrest

ahram online
Opposition groups reject President Morsi’s call for national dialogue following recent deadly protests, condemn state of emergency in Suez, Ismailia and Port Said
Osman El Sharnoubi
Port Said

Egyptians carry the coffin of a man killed during a mass funeral in Port Said (Photo: AP)

A number of Egyptian opposition groups have rejected President Mohamed Morsi’s call for a national dialogue following violence that has killed more than 40 people since Friday.

“Any dialogue is a waste of time if the president doesn’t take responsibility for the bloody events and doesn’t vow to form a national salvation government and a balanced committee to amend the constitution,” opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said via Twitter.

Violence erupted in a number of cities on Friday during protests to mark the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution. Ten people, two police officers and 8 protesters, died in clashes in the canal cities of Suez and Ismailia. At least 33 protesters were also killed in Port Said in clashes with security forces since Saturday in the wake of a court verdict sentencing 21 local people to death for their role in the Port Said Stadium disaster in February 2012.

In a speech on Sunday night, President Morsi imposed a state of emergency in the three canal cities (Suez, Ismailia and Port Said) before calling on the opposition to sit down on Monday to negotiate.

Khaled Dawoud, spokesperson for the National Salvation Front, the largest opposition umbrella group, said the president’s decision ignored the facts on the ground.

“If [the president] really wanted to protect lives he would have directed his government to take security measures in Port Said prior to the announcement of the verdict,” he said.

Morsi had avoided taking personal responsibility for the “state of chaos” engulfing Egypt, Dawoud added.

The Egyptian Popular Current, co-founded by Nasserist former presidential contender Hamdeen Sabbahi, said Morsi’s speech conveyed a limited understanding of the turbulent times Egypt is undergoing and ignored the socioeconomic and political causes for the people’s anger.

The movement has rejected the president’s invitation for dialogue.

“Even though the Egyptian Popular Current supports constructive national dialogue, it rejects being part of a dialogue as long as the regime continues its crimes against protesters and carries out unsuccessful policies.”

It called on Morsi to adopt political rather than security initiatives to solve the current crisis.

The Socialist Popular Alliance Party said it rejected the president’s offer of dialogue and called for urgent trials for those who had killed protesters, first and foremost the interior minister.

Other opposition groups seem less hasty to reject the offer of dialogue.

The liberal Conference Party, headed by former presidential candidate Amr Mousa, said it would decide whether to attend the dialogue after a meeting of the National Salvation Front, of which it is a member.

The Strong Egypt Party, led by ex-Muslim Brother and former presidential nominee Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, seemed more open to dialogue. Party member Mohamed Osman told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that the party was likely to take part in the dialogue pending a meeting on Monday morning.

The party would announce its stance on the state of emergency following the meeting, Osman added.

Islamist groups, however, have backed the imposition of a state of emergency.

Salafist Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar said the move was necessary but it should only be used against illegally armed citizens, not political activists.

The ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya also backed the move, saying the state of emergency was necessary to provide security for citizens in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia.

The group’s political arm, the Building and Development Party, has welcomed the president’s call for dialogue, saying it would participate in the interests of the nation.

U.S. policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because the fledgling government is the result of a coup

Malian special forces

Mali Special Forces Rapid Deployment Force

U.S. steps up involvement in Mali

cnn

By Ingrid Formanek and Dana Ford, CNN

(CNN) — The United States is intensifying its involvement in Mali, where local and French forces are battling Islamic militants.

It will support the French military by conducting aerial refueling missions, according to the Pentagon, which released a short statement Saturday following a call between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“The leaders also discussed plans for the United States to transport troops from African nations, including Chad and Togo, to support the international effort in Mali. Secretary Panetta and Minister Le Drian resolved to remain in close contact as aggressive operations against terrorist networks in Mali are ongoing,” it read.

U.S. policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because the fledgling government is the result of a coup. No support can go to the Malian military directly until leaders are chosen through an election.

But the United States is supporting the effort with intelligence and airlift support.

So far, the U.S. Air Force has flown at least seven C-17 cargo missions into Mali, carrying 200 passengers, mainly French troops, and 168 tons of equipment, according to Maj. Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman.

The uptick in U.S. involvement comes as Malian forces loosened the grip that Islamist militants’ hold in the country’s north with the retaking of the city of Gao.

With the support of French forces, the Malians entered and took control of Gao, which for months had been a militant stronghold, the French defense ministry said.

The advance was made in stages, with forces taking Gao’s airport and the main bridge leading to town before entering the rest of the city.

“Jihadist terrorists, who have fought Malian and French armies, have seen their mobile and logistical capabilities reduced,” the ministry said in a news release.

The quickening advance of the government forces has brought them to the heart of the territory held by the militants.

The Islamic extremists carved out a large haven in northern Mali last year, taking advantage of a chaotic situation after a military coup by the separatist party MNLA. The militants banned music, smoking, drinking and watching sports on television. They also destroyed historic tombs and shrines.

The takeover stoked fear among global security experts that Mali could become a new hub for terrorism.

Refugees tell harrowing stories of life under the Islamist militants.

But the French-based International Federation for Human Rights said it is “very alarmed” by reports that Malian soldiers are themselves carrying out extrajudicial killings and abuses as they counterstrike.

The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, has called for an increase in international aid for the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced by the fighting in the country.

More than 150,000 refugees have fled Mali into neighboring countries, and another 230,000 are displaced inside Mali, the agency said.

The military’s advance into Gao may shed more light on the conditions that residents there have faced. According to the U.N. agency, one former resident told of a hospital stripped of medicine by the armed militants and filling with bodies.

As the Malian troops advance, some other countries in the region are joining the French force aiding them. Between 700 and 800 African troops from Benin, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso have arrived, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday, and a number of Senegalese troops and up to 2,000 from Chad are on the way.

France has 2,150 soldiers on Malian soil, with 1,000 more troops supporting the operation from elsewhere.

French involvement in the conflict began on January 11, the day after militants said they had seized the city of Konna, east of Diabaly in central Mali, and were poised to advance south toward Bamako, the capital.

Until 1960, Mali had been under French control.

The MNLA, made up of ethnic Tuareg rebels, staged their coup against Mali’s central government after returning to Mali well-armed from fighting for late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Bhutto-Zardaris’ Indian friend helped break LoC ice

[Somehow, the Tahir-ul-Qadri protest march was a tool for breaking the logjam over the LoC incidents.  It provided the necessary distraction to take the public’s awareness off of the militancy that was showing its ugly head in Kashmir.]

Bhutto-Zardaris’ Indian friend helped break LoC ice

times of india

TNN

Salman Khurshid|Hina Rabbani Khar

Bhutto-Zardaris’ Indian friend helped break LoC ice
Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on January 9 offered to hold talks to address India’s concerns about the LoC and to find ways to preserve the ceasefire the two sides agreed to in 2003.
NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan used track-II diplomacy to defuse tensions along the line of control (LoC) just after the killing of Indian soldiers and mutilation of their bodies earlier this month which had threatened to set the border ablaze and push the dialogue process off rails.Well-placed sources said that an Indian contact close to Pakistan’s ruling Bhutto-Zardari family came in handy as the two sides groped for ways to keep talks on course amid rising fury in India over the killing of two soldiers , one of whom the Pakistani troopers beheaded.

When contacted, the Bhutto-Zardari contact confirmed playing a “small” role, but insisted on maintaining his anonymity.

Sources said that Indian authorities conveyed it to the Pakistani government that while they were keen to carry on the dialogue, the objective would be helped if Islamabad struck a conciliatory note.

Pakistan, which had until then brushed aside India’s protests, responded to the suggestion positively, perhaps because of mounting challenges back home. Within a span of days, cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri laid siege to Islamabad, the killing of Shias triggered an uprising and the SC order to arrest PM Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Water talks put off

Talks between the water secretaries of India and Pakistan, scheduled to be held in Islamabad during January 28-29 , have been put off in the wake of tension between the neighbours over ceasefire violations along the LoC. The Tulbul navigation project was to feature in the talks.

Khar’s offer for peace talks bridged the gap

Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on January 9 offered to hold talks to address India’s concerns about the Line of Control (LoC) and to find ways to preserve the ceasefire the two sides agreed to in 2003. New Delhi saw the statement as an improvement over the stance Pakistan had taken earlier where it rejected India’s demand for an investigation into the LoC killings and said it would agree only to a probe by the United Nations.
India reciprocated a couple of days later, with foreign minister Salman Khurshid noting the positive elements of the statement of Khar and saying relations could reach the “near-normal” stage.