ex IN officer confess Indian NUke tests! called it a failure..


Dr. B. K. Subba Rao a former Indian Navy Captain, who holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Technology from the I.I.T., has
charged the Department of Atomic Energy, Mumbai with passing off a thermonuclear device with the yield in
mere kilotonnes as a success while it was in fact a failure.

He says in a statement:

India alone, and not the rest of the world, will be the Books loser, if Indians are not able to know the true picture
about the nuclear explosions carried out at Pokhran on May 11 and May 13, 1998. The true picture should include
whether India planned a thermonuclear device (hydrogen bomb) in the usual order of megaton capacity but failed
to reach that capacity or the Indian nuclear scientists even after 24 years of their first nuclear explosion on
May 18, 1974, were not confident of reaching megaton capacity and so had to make a trial and error attempt
with a preposterous thermonuclear device of 45 kilotons. Claiming miniaturisation at 45 kilotons is meaningless,
because even the submarine launched (from underwater) compactified Polaris missile has a nuclear warhead of
one megaton (one megaton is 1,000 kilotons).

The success of a nuclear explosion is measured from the yield which results from the explosion. The yield or
total energy of a thermonuclear device, known in common parlance as hydrogen bomb, is expressed in megatons (one
megaton is one thousand kilotons and one kiloton is 1,000 tons of equivalent chemical explosive). One of the
early thermonuclear devices exploded by China yielded 6 megatons. Whereas, according to the reliable seismic
data from sensors abroad, the yield from the three Indian nuclear explosions on May 11 – a fission device,
a low yield device and thermonuclear device – was not even 30 kilotons. Mr. Gregory E. Van Der Vink, Director
of Planning at the Incorporated Research Institution of Seismology, who is also the expert advising U.S.
Congress and Clinton administration is reported having said, “From Monday’s tests (May 11) we have a seismic
signal of about magnitude 5.4. We think this corresponds roughly to an explosive yield of around 10 to 25
kilotons.” More or less the same yield was estimated by the Japanese scientists and British scientists. Thereby
showing that either the Indian thermonuclear device failed completely, and whatever yield that had been
recorded, was entirely from the boosted fission device. Alternatively, the thermonuclear device got extinguished
like a Deepavali cracker with initial noise and a bit of light without burning fully and could not go beyond 50
kilotons yield, the figure claimed by some Indian seismologists.

The waves of hysteric joy spread in the country by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party describing the triple
nuclear explosions a “spectacular success” contrasted with the doubts of international scientific community on
the so called success of India’s first thermonuclear explosion, compelled the Chairman of India’s Atomic
Energy Commission (AEC), Dr. R. Chidambaram, to address a press conference on May 17 at New Delhi. It was a
joint press conference with the participation of the Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, Dr. A. P. J.
Abdul Kalam, and others. The entire press conference looked more like a damage control exercise. Dr.
Chidambaram’s attempts, during the press conference, to dispel the doubts on India’s success, gave birth to more
doubts and to many more valid questions.
During the press conference Dr. Chidambaram claimed that from the three explosions carried out on May 11, the
item by item yield obtained was, from the fission device 15 kilotons, from the low yield device 0.2 kilotons and
from the thermonuclear device which comprised of a fission trigger and a fusion device, the yield was from
the fission trigger 12 kilotons and the fusion device 45 kilotons. Dr. Chidambaram also stated that the two
sub-kiloton devices exploded on May 13 gave 0.5 kilotons and 0.3 kilotons respectively.

How far Dr. Chidambaram was able to dispel the doubts? According to Dr. Chidambaram, the reason for the low
values recorded by the international seismic sensors was the simultaneous triggering of the three devices – the
fission, the low yield and the thermonuclear device-on May 11. He meant that the simultaneous explosions caused
interference of shock waves traveling through the earth and resulted in low value seismic data at the
international seismic centers. If it is true, one can ask, how the shock waves had no interference at the
Indian seismic centers which recorded values more or less supporting the figures put out by Dr. Chidambaram
in his press conference. There is yet another angle from which one can see Dr. Chidambaram’s explanation to be
unscientific. During the press conference, he revealed that the two shafts containing separately the fission
device and the thermonuclear device were at a distance of only one kilometre. In such close configuration and
simultaneous explosion with fission device giving 15 kilotons and the thermonuclear (fusion device) giving 45
kilotons, the epicenter from which the shock waves travel will be more like from one location and the
possibility of interference of shock waves is almost nil. Dr. Chidambaram himself made his position quite
vulnerable. It looks there is a major science and technology scam in the claim on India’s first
thermonuclear explosion.
Dr. Abdul Kalam, who spoke in the same press conference, appeared to be far from truth when he said that the
nuclear tests conferred on the country “a capability to vacate nuclear threats.” The rave media coverage while
hailing India’s capability “to vacate nuclear threats”, has in fact vacated the boundary between a
political statement and scientific statement. A political statement can mean many things, but a
scientific statement has only one meaning. That is the characteristic of science, which distinguishes it from
other human pursuits. Both Dr. Chidambaram and Dr. Kalam appear to have ignored this distinguishing feature of

When a launch by the Department of Space

fails, the failure is not hidden from the public. But the Department of Atomic

Energy (DAE), under the veil of secrecy, is privileged to hide its failure and

also to paint their failures as grand successes. Such a privilege, it appears, is

fully exercised in respect of india’s first thermonuclear


There are two possibilities: The DAE scientists correctly informed the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari
Vajpayee, on the true state of the tests but the Prime Minister chose to hide the failure of the thermonuclear
explosion, or the DAE scientists misled the Prime Minister to believe that the tests were a total success
and the results were on expected lines. Only a debate in the Parliament followed by an inquiry by a Joint
Committee of the Parliament can resolve this issue. Such an inquiry will be in the national interest, because the
expected yield of a thermonuclear device is always in multiples of megatons.

After the three underground nuclear tests at Pokhran on May 11, the Prime Minister publicly announced, “The
tests were conducted with a fission device, a low yield device and a thermonuclear device. The measured yields
are in line with expected values.” The camouflage lies in the words “expected values”. The people of Indian
can not be faulted, if they believed that for some valid reasons, the correct yield values were not disclosed by
the Prime Minister.

What will happen to the BJP popularity if the public comes to know that the thermonuclear explosions are in
the range of megatons and not kilotons and the early thermonuclear explosion by China had a yield of 6
megatons where as India’s first thermonuclear explosion could not yield even 30 kilotons and so actually was a
failure? Who should be held responsible for the false propaganda converting the utter failure into a
`spectacular success’? Therefore, it is in public interest to discuss the distinction between a fission
device and a thermonuclear device which is also known as fusion device and also to understand where the failure
of Indian nuclear establishment lies.

A hydrogen bomb has vast destructive power. This type of fusion bomb is capable of devastating about 400 sq.km.
by blast, while its searing heat can extend to beyond 2000 sq.km. and its radiative fallout even farther. The
first publicised U.S. thermonuclear tests was in 1951, followed in 1953 by that of USSR and in 1957 by that of
United Kingdom. China exploded hydrogen bomb in the seventies. The yield of all these thermonuclear devices
was in the order of megatons. Since the perfection in fission technology has reached a stage going beyond 30
kilotons yield, there is no need to think of thermonuclear device if it is not in the range of
several megatons. What is the yield of India’s first thermonuclear explosion? It is not even 30 kilotons, if
we are to go by the seismic data gathered by reliable seismic centres of the world. Thus looking from the
yield angle, India’s first thermonuclear explosion is a failure. The scientists concerned owe an explanation to
the nation for getting it publicised as a `spectacular success’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: