Wednesday, January 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India has alternative N-command authority
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 7
India has an Alternative Nuclear Command Authority (ANCA) in “more than one place” besides the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) announced on Saturday for the management of its weapons.

The ANCA is intended to take control in case of an exigency whereby the NCA becomes a victim of the enemy’s first strike, highly authoritative sources said here today. They refused to elaborate or pinpoint where these ANCAs are located.

The sources maintained that the country’s nuclear delivery systems were in place at the time of the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan and India could have retaliated in case of a first strike. “There was enough preparation and we had delivery systems in place,” the sources emphasised.

They said India’s announcement of an NCA showed its transparency about the nuclear command and control structure in contrast to the opaqueness of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment.

“If Pakistan is aware of an Alternative NCA, it will think a hundred times before doing anything,” the sources said explaining that India’s nuclear doctrine is underpinned to nuclear retaliation to a first strike which will be “massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.”

The sources said India which acquired nuclear capability in May 1998 sending shock waves throughout the world was a responsible nuclear power. New Delhi was not trigger-happy and did not go about making irresponsible threats or indulge in muscle flexing.

This was an unmistakable reference to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf who was quoted as having said that Islamabad could have resorted to unconventional war during the Kargil conflict, an allusion to resorting to nuclear weapons in case India had crossed the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

The sources also refused to go into the specifics of the number of nuclear warheads that India possessed. At the same time they were categoric that India had in place “highly credible” delivery systems for its weapons.

Responding to a pointed question if India had nuclear capable bombers, the sources said it would not be prudent to speculate on such operational matters.

Drawing pointed attention to the civilian control of the NCA or the ANCA, the sources refused to discuss either on the succession issue if the apex authority or authorities are to be disabled. They insisted that all these “alternatives have been clearly chalked out and there are no ambiguities.”

Simultaneously, they said the safety and security of the nuclear weapons were such that they were much safer than those of the many nuclear weapons states.

The NCA has a political council headed by the Prime Minister, an executive council comprising the executive branch and the tri-services command to provide inputs to the political authority. The Strategic Forces Command managing and administering the nuclear weapons is committed to “build and maintain a credible minimum deterrence.”

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