Friday, September 18, 2009



I have been in receipt of the following comments by E-mail from a knowledgeable reader of my article on K.Santhanam:

"One of the most authoritiative books that have been published recently about the history and evolution of nuclear weapons is "The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation" (Zenith Press, 2009) by Thomas C. Reed, a former nuclear weapons designer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Policy, and Danny B. Stillman, a physicist-cum-technical intelligence specialist of Los Alamos, New Mexico.

"In the chapter entitled "The Fakirs: India, Pakistan and North Korea" - a somewhat uncharitable title, if one may say so - the authors have, inter alia, dwelt extensively on the Pokhran tests of May 1998 and reached the conclusion that, notwithstanding the claims made by the Indian scientific community at that time, "Shakti-I," the fission-based primary, two-stage thermonuclear "controlled yield," was probably a failure. According to the authors, "the primary went low - 4KT. The secondary did not light." At the same time, they noted that "Given the Indian interest in thermonuclear technology and the status arising from such weapons, given her activities in the production of lithium and tritium as well as uranium enrichment, and given the continuing Indian need for parity with China, it is reasonable to expect and assume that India will test again at the next politically opportune time."

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