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Full Potential of India-US Civil Nuclear Deal Remains Untapped Expert

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Full Potential of India-US Civil Nuclear Deal Remains Untapped Expert


Washington: More than 18 years after India and the US signed a civil nuclear deal, its full potential and promise along with the larger bilateral partnership is yet to be realised, according to a top American expert.

While New Delhi is yet to remove obstacles that prevent its purchase of nuclear reactors from the United States, Washington has not been able to match the policy with vision, Ashley J Tellis, the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and a senior fellow at the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said.

US President Joe Biden’s ambition to finally fructify the 2005 civil nuclear agreement cannot end with the sale of US nuclear reactors to India. Rather, it must extend to revising long-standing US policies that continue to make the existence of India’s nuclear weapons programme an insuperable obstacle to deepened technological cooperation, he asserted in an opinion piece published by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Monday.

“Where India is concerned, New Delhi is long overdue in removing the obstacles that prevent its purchase of nuclear reactors from the United States, consistent with the written commitments it made during the implementation of the nuclear deal. Where the United States is concerned, a different challenge persists that is no less urgent: matching policy with vision,” he added.

Tellis noted that after Biden’s visit to India in September, the joint statement declared that the two leaders “welcomed intensified consultations between the relevant entities on both sides to expand opportunities for facilitating India-US collaboration in nuclear energy, including in development of next-generation small modular reactor technologies in a collaborative mode”.

Realising this promise, however, will require solutions that have eluded the two sides thus far, said the Indian-American expert.

Westinghouse, the supplier of high-output nuclear power plants, remains skittish about sales to India with the absence of a durable assurance of limited liability in the event of an accident.

At least one other American company, Holtec International, which supplies small modular reactors (SMRs), already operates a components factory in India and is eager to explore SMR sales in the country and across West Asia but these discussions are still in the early stages.

Given the Biden administration’s interest in consummating the civil nuclear agreement, as well as India’s interest in expanding foreign participation in its nuclear energy programme, it is past time for the Modi government to rectify the nuclear liability problems that it has inherited ironically due to the obstructiveness of Modi’s own party, albeit long before he led it, Tellis wrote.

The cleanest solution to the current predicament would be to amend India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) to bring it in line with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC) by channelling all liability in case of a nuclear accident solely to the operator of a nuclear plant, with the operator in turn protecting its interests by relying on an insurance pool for financial safety. India has already moved to create such an insurance pool pursuant to the CLNDA but it has not been fully funded yet, he wrote.

According to Tellis, even as India looks for ways to realise the commercial promise of the civil nuclear agreement — an objective that the Biden administration must be congratulated for making its own — the administration still has another bigger and more consequential task arising out of this accord: addressing the issue of India’s nuclear weapons programme in the US grand strategy.

Tellis said the inherited nonproliferation rules and how they are implemented not only prevent India from enjoying the full benefits of the agreement but even more importantly, subvert the overarching objective that drove its negotiation — assisting India’s ascendancy to create the Asian multipolarity that balances China’s rise.

“On this count, both the administration and the US Congress are of one mind. Consequently, it is now time for the executive branch to bring its application of the non-proliferation rules in accord with its core strategic goal of building Indian capabilities to effectively resist expanding Chinese power,” he asserted.





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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’


NEW DELHI: India tested its nuclear capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designed to have a strike range of 3,500 km, for the second time in six days on Friday. The missile test, as the one conducted on January 19, was undertaken from an undersea platform in the shape of a submersible pontoon off the coast of Andhra Pradesh according to a report by Rajat Pandit of TOI.

The solid-fuelled K-4 missile is being developed by DRDO to arm the country’s nuclear-powered submarines in the shape of INS Arihant and its under-development sister vessels. INS Arihant, which became fully operational in November 2018 to complete India’s nuclear triad, is currently armed with the much shorter K-15 missiles with a 750 km range.

“The K-4 is now virtually ready for its serial production to kick-off. The two tests have demonstrated its capability to emerge straight from underwater and undertake its parabolic trajectory,” said a source.

India has the land-based Agni missiles, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted, and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. But INS Arihant gives the country’s deterrence posture much more credibility because nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are considered the most secure, survivable and potent platforms for retaliatory strikes.

Once the K-4 missiles are inducted, they will help India narrow the gap with countries like the US, Russia and China, which have over 5,000-km range SLBMs. The K-4 missiles are to be followed by the K-5 and K-6 missiles in the 5,000-6,000 km range class.

The 6,000-ton INS Arihant, which is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, in turn, is to be followed by INS Arighat, which was launched in 2017. The next generation of nuclear submarines, currently called S-4 and S-4*, will be much larger in size.





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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%

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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%


India has received clearance to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, which will result in 78% indigenization after the upgrade

In a significant step towards bolstering its military might with indigenously developed technology, India is poised to witness its Russian-origin Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets evolve into a domestic platform. Speaking at a recent lecture.

The upgrade program is being led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in partnership with the Indian Air Force and other partners. The upgrade is expected to cost US$7.5 billion.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the upgrade. The upgrade is part of India’s efforts to improve the capabilities of its primary fighter aircraft, it refers to as the “Super Sukhoi”.

This initiative is a part of a larger effort by the Indian Air Force to modernize its ageing fleet. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari asserted the critical role of an offensive air force as demonstrated in current global conflicts and emphasized India’s move towards an indigenized arsenal. To this end, the IAF has been proactive, from upgrading its Mirage 2000 to enhancing its MiG-29 fleet.

In summary, the IAF’s commitment to updating their combat forces with the latest technology, including shifting to fifth-generation fighter jets, ensures operational preparedness and a strong deterrence capability. The gradual indigenization of its air fleet marks a pivotal shift in India’s defence landscape, reducing dependency on foreign imports and fostering technological sovereignty.





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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace

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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace


According to unconfirmed reports, Armenia is a top contender for an export order for Akash SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

While there is no official confirmation because of the sensitivities involved, documents suggest that the order for the same has already been placed the report further added.
There are nine countries, in turn, which have shown interest in the indigenously-developed Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25-km. They are Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Algeria reported TOI.

The Akash export version will also be slightly different from the one inducted by the armed forces. The 100-km range air-to-air Astra missiles, now entering production after successful trials from Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, also have “good export potential”, said sources.

Akash is a “tried, tested and successfully inducted systems”. Indian armed forces have ordered Akash systems worth Rs 24,000 crore over the years, and MoD inked a contract in Mar 2023 of over Rs 9,100 crores for improved Akash Weapon System

BDL is a government enterprise under the Ministry of Defence that was established in 1970. BDL manufactures surface-to-air missiles and delivers them to the Indian Army. BDL also offers its products for export.

Akash Weapon System

The AWS is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) Air Defence System, indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In order to meet aerial threats, two additional Regiments of AWS with Upgradation are being procured for Indian Army for the Northern borders. Improved AWS has Seeker Technology, Reduced Foot Print, 360° Engagement Capability and improved environmental parameters.

The project will give a boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry in particular and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole. The project has overall indigenous content of 82% which will be increased to 93% by 2026-27.

The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will increase India’s self-reliance in Short Range Missile capability. This project will play a role in boosting the overall economy by avoiding outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Around 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, in maintaining the supply chain of the weapon system, thereby creating large scale of direct and indirect employment.





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