Monday, November 30, 2009

China's Submarines Are Still Noisy, Says Hans Kristensen

Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists has written that China’s new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine is noisier than the Russian Delta III-class submarines built more than 30 years ago. He based this on the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)Report of August 2009.

Kristensen says that the report makes three points cery clear:

1. China now has three ballistic missile submarines, one Xia class and two Jin class.

2. One Jin class submarine is based at Hainan. The other Jin and the Xia are at Qingdao.

3. The Jin is really frickin’ noisy.

Given below is Kristensen's report on the Chinese submarines, available at the FAS Blog at

China’s new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine is noisier than the Russian Delta III-class submarines built more than 30 years ago, according to a report produced by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

The report The People’s Liberation Army Navy: A Modern Navy With Chinese Characteristics, which was first posted on the FAS Secrecy News Blog and has since been removed from the ONI web site [but now back here; thanks Bruce], is to my knowledge the first official description made public of Chinese and Russian modern nuclear submarine noise levels.

Force Level

The report shows that China now has two Jin SSBNs, one of which is based at Hainan Island with the South Sea Fleet, along with two Type 093 Shang-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN). The Jin was first described at Hainan in February 2008 and the two Shangs in September 2008. The second Jin SSBN is based at Jianggezhuang with the North Sea Fleet alongside the old Xia-class SSBN and four Han-class SSNs.

The report confirms the existence of the Type 095, a third-generation SSN intended to follow the Type 093 Shang-class. Five Type 095s are expected from around 2015. The Type-95 is estimated to be noisier than the Russian Akula I SSN built 20 years ago.

Missile Range

The ONI report states that the JL-2 sea-launched ballistic missile on the Jin SSBNs has a range of ~4,000 nautical miles (~7,400 km) “is capable of reaching the continental United States from Chinese littorals.” Not quite, unless Chinese littorals extend well into the Sea of Japan. Since the continental United States does not include Alaska and Hawaii, a warhead from a 7,400-km range JL-2 would fall into the sea about 800 km from Seattle. A JL-2 carrying penetration aids in addition to a warhead would presumably have a shorter range.

Julang-2 SLBM Range According to ONI

Although the ONI report states that the Julang-2 can target the Continental United States, the range estimate it provides is insufficient to reach the lower 48 states or Hawaii.

Alaska would be in range if the JL-2 is launched from the very northern parts of Chinese waters, but Hawaii is out of range unless the missile is launched from a position close to South Korea or Japan. The U.S. Defense Department’s 2009 report to Congress on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China also shows the range of the JL-2 to be insufficient to target the Continental United States or Hawaii from Chinese waters. The JL-2 instead appears to be a regional weapon with potential mission against Russia and India and U.S. bases in Guam and Japan.

Patrol Levels

The report also states that Chinese submarine patrols have “more than tripled” over the past few years, when compared to the historical levels of the last two decades.

That sounds like a lot, but given that the entire Chinese submarine fleet in those two decades in average conducted fewer than three patrols per year combined, a trippling doesn’t amout to a whole lot for a submarine fleet of 63 submarines. According to data obtained from ONI under FOIA, the patrol number in 2008 was 12.

Since only the most capable of the Chinese attack submarines presumably conduct these patrols away from Chinese waters – and since China has yet to send one of its ballistic missile submarines on patrol – that could mean one or two patrols per year per submarine.


The ONI report concludes that the Jin SSBN with the JL-2 SLBM gives the PLA Navy its first credible second-strike nuclear capability. The authors must mean in principle, because in a war such noisy submarines would presumably be highly vulnerabe to U.S. or Japanese anti-submarine warfare forces. (The noise level of China’s most modern diesel-electric submarines is another matter; ONI says some are comparable to Russian diesel-electric submarines).

That does raise an interesting question about the Chinese SSBN program: if Chinese leaders are so concerned about the vulnerability of their nuclear deterrent, why base a significant portion of it on a few noisy platforms and send them out to sea where they can be sunk by U.S. attack submarines in a war? And if Chinese planners know that the sea-based deterrent is much more vulnerable than its land-based deterrent, why do they waste money on the SSBN program?

The answer is probably a combination of national prestige and scenarios involving India or Russia that have less capable anti-submarine forces.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anti-terror Ties Bridge US-India Gap

Here's a link to a story on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the US by Peter Brown that has quoted me. The story appeared in the Asia Times Online (November 24).

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in the United States for a state visit as many Indians are finding US President Barack Obama's treatment of India less friendly and perhaps more unpredictable than the approach of former president George W Bush.

"We understand America's tactical compulsions. What we don't understand is what is its big strategy," a senior Indian official told the Times of India.

However, with the first anniversary of the last year's November 26 terrorist attack on Mumbai fast approaching, events over the past few days may reshuffle the deck as far as Manmohan's priorities are concerned. Manmohan, who arrived on Monday morning for a visit that will culminate in dinner at the White House on Tuesday, has accused Pakistan of not doing enough given that the Mumbai conspiracy originated there. He repeated that charge shortly after touching down in the US.

His remarks - along with the arrest in Italy last week of two alleged supporters of the plot, as well as the arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last month of two men in Chicago allegedly linked to the group blamed for the atrocity - add to the possibility that the Mumbai attack may emerge as the core mission for Manmohan's visit to the US.

US Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta's short visit to India last week highlighted how volatile this situation is becoming. He went there to discuss, among other things, possible ties between the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan and the two men recently arrested by the FBI in Chicago: David Coleman Headley, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian. Any alleged involvement of a US citizen in the Mumbai attack not only broadens the scope of the conspiracy but brings ongoing US domestic counterterrorism activities and FBI surveillance data into focus.

"We have been working hand-to-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder, hour-by-hour in cooperating and sharing information with India's government on a daily, weekly and monthly basis," said US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer at a news conference at the US embassy in New Delhi. Voice of America reported that Roemer "declined to discuss how Washington would react to any extradition request by [India]".

Manmohan will no doubt seek assurances from the Obama administration that the US "will exert considerable pressure on Islamabad to meet its UN-mandated anti-terror obligations, and, credibly prosecute the ideologues and perpetrators directly tied to the carnage," said Sourabh Gupta, senior research associate at Samuels International Associates in Washington, DC.

"As the US concentrates minds in Islamabad to fight the necessary fight for Pakistan's own survival, a price ought not to be paid in New Delhi," said Gupta.

While India can count on many friends in Washington, Obama's unfortunate omission of India altogether from his recent speech in Tokyo had left many in India wondering about the current US position on India.

"While the Bush administration may have recognized India not only as a regional power but also as a potential global power and as a strong pillar in the new and evolving Asian strategic framework, this view may not hold true under the Obama administration," said Rajeswari Rajagopalan, senior fellow in Security Studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. "Despite the popular perception of the relative decline of US power, the US continues to be the sole superpower, and India believes that it is in its best interests to have a strengthened partnership with the US."

Some analysts blame India for its apparent inability or failure to craft a corresponding comprehensive US strategy of its own.

"No thinking has been ever done in India as to what it expects out of a long-term strategic relationship with the US. It is always the US which decides what it will give to India, and it is New Delhi which accepts," said Bahukutumbi Raman, director of the Institute for Topical Studies in Chennai. "What passes for analysis in India is just wishful thinking."

Since the US does not depend on India in any matter, no actual quid pro quo relationship - let alone a viable strategic partnership - was ever created. Instead, India has been assigned the role of a sub-regional power "whose aspirations of having a status on par with China are unrealistic," according to Raman.

"Nobody in India has realized that, for the first time, the US, Japan and Australia have a leadership which does not rate highly India's potential as an emerging power," said Raman, who has previously stated that Obama is following closely in the footsteps of president Jimmy Carter in terms of presenting the US as confused and soft on important global issues.

The vast majority of Americans are simply unaware of Manmohan, and the importance of his visit escapes them. As the leader of the world's largest democracy, Manmohan has an opportunity to show how India and the US share important geopolitical, economic and environmental objectives. Most of all, Indian and US interests intersect when it comes to dealing with China's rapid economic and military ascent.

"India does not wish to see a hostile relationship between the US and China with destabilizing consequences for the continent," said Rajagopalan. "India needs the US to play a major role in dealing with China and Pakistan, although it is not clear yet whether it will be a positive one."

Although US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent several days in India in July and left a strong impression in the process, Gupta stresses that the US needs to do far more to convince India that the US is and will remain a reliable partner. If the US fails to deal with this credibility gap effectively, the US risks "leading others in Asia to question the reliability of the US as a balancer against China. These are not trivial considerations," said Gupta.

"The US must ensure that it does not use India and South Asia-related agenda items as a salve to paper over differences in US-China political/strategic relations. US-India relations must not be a derivative of the US-China relationship but accorded bilateral exclusivity at a minimum."

This is one reason Obama's rather unexpected comments during his trip to Asia about possibly expanding China's role in South Asia created an uproar in India .

"The failure of [Obama] to understand the distrust of China in large sections of Indian civil society has landed the US in a situation in which the considerable goodwill between India and the US created during the administration of his predecessor stands in danger of being diluted by his unthinking words and actions," wrote Raman recently, adding that China has consistently tried to isolate India "by keeping alive the old distrusts and animosities and creating new ones".

The US quickly attempted to amend Obama's remarks. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Williams Burns said that "the US is interested in pursuing the best and healthiest possible partnership with China, but that does not come at the expense of other increasingly important partnerships, particularly our relationship with India."

Obama can now set a more positive tone, according to Gupta, by quickly signing off on an agreement that will allow India to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

"Parties are close to an agreement on this front. There could be no stronger statement of continuity than continued forward movement on this signature Bush administration initiative, which was vigorously opposed by some who are now in the current administration," said Gupta.

Subrata Ghoshroy, senior associate in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, identifies several other issues on the "nuclear agenda" that will be discussed, besides reprocessing - "which India wants and the US does not". For example, Manmohan will arrive with his administration's approval of the Nuclear Liability Bill, which will allow India to join the international convention on civilian liability in case of nuclear damage.

"Right now, it is not clear when he will introduce it to the [Indian] parliament," said Ghoshroy. "Nonetheless, it is an important step that will make it easier for US companies to build nuclear plants in India."

US companies are refusing to start construction in India until this legislation, which would immunize US companies in the event of a nuclear accident, is signed into law.

"In a way, this puts the entire onus on India and Indian companies alone and not on the US companies, their technologies or materials," said Rajagopalan. "Neither Russia nor France have demanded such a pact. If and when India signs such an agreement, it will inevitably include all the countries that are involved in the nuclear trade with India. It is not certain how India and the US will find a way out of this muddle."

According to Ghoshroy, the US also wants India to begin negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), as well as make positive statements about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Manmohan is on record as saying that India's deterrent is credible, so no more tests are necessary anyway.

"India may continue to [attach] the CTBT to a timetable for complete disarmament," said Ghoshroy. "But the US has leverage regarding trade - especially on IT [information technology] and a nuclear deal - that could induce India to sign the CTBT."

Another key area involves a further revising of the denial regime of the US when it comes to the transfer of high-technology. In this regard, more measures on the civilian side are important, including a comprehensive commercial space launch agreement (CSLA) in line with the positive improvements made this summer. Without the CSLA, India cannot enter the lucrative commercial satellite market both for US commercial satellites or third-country satellites with US components.

"On the defense/military side, there is also a strong desire to reach an agreement on a 'Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum' so as to ensure the secrecy of bilateral [intelligence and surveillance, or so-called C4ISR] exchanges. This will enable access to strategically sensitive US weapons systems," said Gupta.

C4ISR is a term used by the US military meaning: command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Although the transfer of certain sophisticated technologies from the US to India is easier today, "nothing is going to happen overnight. India is trying to move away from its dependence on Russian equipment, but cost and end-use restrictions are still major challenges in buying American," said Ghoshroy, who added that the biggest near-term purchase for India involves procurement of 126 tactical aircraft worth US$10 billion. US defense giant Lockheed Martin is a strong contender with its F-16s jet fighters.

"There is also accelerated collaboration in missile defense systems. India is seeking 'seeker' technology . It presently has only RF [radio frequency] seekers from Russia, but would like to have infrared technology for longer-range missiles," said Ghoshroy.

India is also increasing its procurement of Israeli defense technology, although the joint Israeli-US Arrow anti-missile system, for example, has not yet been added to the list. Chief of Staff General Deepak Kapoor's recent four-day visit to Israel - now India's top supplier of military hardware - was capped off by completion of the sale of a tactical air defense system to India, among other things.

Other items on the agenda for Manmohan's visit include climate change, Afghanistan, and India's relations with Iran.

Just prior to his departure to Washington, Manmohan met with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Manmohan told the Washington Post that because Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the development of nuclear weapons by Iran is not a viable option. In addition, according to Manmohan, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) informed Manmohan a few weeks ago that, "he was not so sure that Iran is definitely working towards a nuclear weapon." Earlier this month, India changed its mind, and declared there was no possibility that India might launch an Iranian satellite in the coming months.

"India cannot play a substantive role with Iran. Although Indian business houses like Tata and Reliance are active in Iran, India's recent votes in the IAEA have irked Iran," said Ghoshroy. "India has also pulled out of ... gas pipeline negotiations under US pressure. They continue to maintain friendly relations, but I doubt they have any real cards to play."

In East Asia, India and the US have always enjoyed good relations with Japan. The US has encountered mixed signals lately from Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and his new government. India is also detecting a shift in attitude in Tokyo, as well as a degree of uncertainty. A few days prior to Obama's arrival in Japan, Indian Defense Minister AK Antony held talks with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa, in Tokyo, the first visit to Japan by an Indian defense minister since 2006.

According to Gupta, while any uncertainty surrounding the US-Japan alliance "doesn't directly feed into the US-India equation", Manmohan should be quite concerned by Hatoyama's "less than forthcoming attitude". It is expected that Hatoyama will travel to India as early as next month.

"[Previous Japanese leaders] were of a remarkably pro-Indian orientation. Shinzo Abe was extended the 'values based' alliance to include India within his notion of a 'broader Asia'. The Japan-India joint statement on defense cooperation was signed during Taro Aso's premiership," said Gupta. "By this high standard, the Hatoyama folk have been something of a let-down."

The US and India may see differently when it comes to China and Pakistan, but they have mutually beneficial outcomes - and basically share the same vision - for countries including Afghanistan, Myanmar and for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Africa is on that roster, too. As for efforts to secure India a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) in particular, little progress is expected during Manmohan's visit.

"I do not expect the US will announce support for India to become a member of the UN Security Council but it should. It is long overdue," said Nicholas Burns, professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He has been a strong supporter of the need for a larger and more inclusive UNSC.

Burns contends that, above all else, the Obama administration has to demonstrate clearly "that India's rise to power is in the strategic interest of the US".

"Due to the number of short-term foreign policy crises confronting the US, such as Afghanistan/Pakistan, and the Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges, for example, the administration has not given much public emphasis to US-India relations," said Burns. "This week's state visit gives them the opportunity to do so. Obama needs to reverse the impression that he cares more about China than India. He needs to articulate a strong and positive vision for the future of US-India ties as his two predecessors did so well."

Peter J Brown is a freelance writer from the US state of Maine

US, China to Manage India-Pakistan Issues

Dealing with a rising China will be a test case of Indo-US ties and the US-Japan security alliance. While the region may have, by and large, adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach towards the rising power, there appears to be an increasing perception of a period of Chinese dominance. The Obama Administration’s approach to China to date is a cause for worry to India. The administration’s policy is not reassuring to either India or even Japan. Whatever be the reasoning, a close Sino-US partnership is going to be irksome to India just as Beijing watched with concern a closer partnership between India and the US. While it is not a zero sum game, improvement in one set of bilateral relationship does impact the other negatively.

The recent US-China Joint Statement (November 17, 2009) is a quick reminder of the June 1998 US-China Joint Statement on South Asia, which created major uproar in India.

Such statements make it evident that US does not recognize India as a major Asian power and this will create tensions not only in bilateral ties with the US but also China. The long term prospects of peace and friendship will also be affected.

Obama’s over emphasis on China may not be in the interests of India or the US; however, the US does not yet appear to be seeing it that way. With global meltdown having hit the US thoroughly, Obama’s economic concerns about China have been overshadowed by the American view that the US needs Chinese help in getting out of the economic mess. This was quite evident from Hillary Clinton’s statements during her visit to Beijing in February 2009, when she in a sense appealed to the Chinese government to continue buying US treasury bonds or be prepared for the fall of both economies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

India's Soft Power: Does It Translate into Favorable Outcomes for India?

There was a renaissance of the concept of soft power after 9/11 terror attacks in the US, when the US believed that its soft power was not strong or powerful enough among the vast Muslim population in the Middle East and that’s why they targeted the US, so on and so forth. The reality is something very different. The people of the Middle East or the Muslim population elsewhere in Europe do enjoy eating McDonald food or the KFC chicken, but they were fundamentally against the US policies. No amount of soft power can do anything about that. Therefore, I would argue that soft power is good, but it can be an effective tool in foreign policy only if it matched by hard power, effective diplomacy, including military diplomacy. Soft power cannot be turned into effective influence in a nation or a region unless followed by its hard power. That is how they is a term coined, smart power, a mix of both hard and soft power. A country needs to pursue both hard and soft power to get the right influence and affect policies in a country.

The whole concept of soft power became very popular in the early 1990s. There are those who argue that it was US’ soft power and liberal values that led to the collapse of Soviet Union. It was not the US soft power that led to the Soviet collapse, but its own collapsing economic since the 1980s which led to the Soviet collapse. So, the concept got reinvigorated with the end of the Cold War. Once again, there was a renaissance of the concept after 9/11 terror attacks in the US, who believe that US’ soft power was not strong or powerful enough among the vast Muslim population in the Middle East and that’s why they targeted the US, so on and so forth. The reality is something very different. The people of the Middle East or the Muslim population elsewhere in Europe do enjoy eating McDonald food or the KFC chicken, but they were fundamentally against the US policies. No amount of soft power can do anything about that.

India has a lot of soft power, cultural influence in various parts of Asia. India’s vibrant culture, diverse culture reflected in its music, bollywood movies, arts are tremendous.

Here, am going to bring in what others have had to say. Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, has been writing a lot on the issue. However, I am going to disagree with most of the arguments when they say that India’s influence in cultural spheres actually gets translated into political decisions or impact policy changes.

As many have shown, one of the best examples is Afghanistan. Afghanistan remains important for more than one reason. What is going on there raises serious concerns not just in India, but for several other important global players. India is believed to have great assets in Afghanistan. Certainly not from its military; India does not have a military presence there. But its greatest advantage there lies in its soft power. Some of India’s TV serials are so popular -- the famous "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi," dubbed into Dari, is telecast on Tolo TV, is so popular and no one likes to miss it. "Saas" is another one. It is believed to have a 90 percent audience penetration.

Again, after the fall of Taliban, Indian foreign minister Jaswant Singh was one of the first dignitaries to reach Kabul. Jaswant Singh who wanted to ensure a better Indian presence, replacing Pakistan, was not carrying food or medicines, but tapes of Hindi movies and music that have been so popular there. This is surely soft power.

Similarly, Indian art, classical music and dance have the same effect. One of the popular Bollywood movies, Inside Man, started with a popular Hindi song, Chaiyya chaiyya and was a real surprise. Similarly, Part 3 of the Matrix series ended to the chant of Asatoma Sadgamaya.

In the field of music too, Indian pop stars such as Nitin Sawhney are inspiring western bands to mix Asian melodies and instruments. Some of the popular dance numbers of choreographer Farah Khan and music composer A.R. Rahman, have created waves, and are making way into Broadway and Hollywood. While Hollywood has inspired many Asian movies, directors such as Martin Scorsese are now remaking films like Rajkumar Hirani's Munnabhai MBBS.

Similarly, when Indian women make it to Miss World or Miss Universe contests, or when Indian bhangra beat is mixed into a Western pop record or when Lagaan is nominated for Oscar; or when Indian writers like Arundathi Roy wins the Booker Prizes, India's soft power is enhanced.

But the most significant ripple effect of Asia's soft power is how it's altering the 'country of origin' problem. For instance, when Titan Watches first entered the international market, it was branded as 'the world watch', partly to disguise its origins. The company knew that many customers just wouldn't accept a high-end watch made in India. Today, that is changing and the made in China or India mark is not something to be hidden.

Therefore, what one sees today is a cross-pollination of several different forces -- forces propelling globalization of Indian popular culture and the forces of market liberalization -- that have seen the benefits of the economic potential of the nation as well as its market of 1 billion people, with a significant middle class population.

Significantly for both India and China, the political advantages of taking their culture global are alluring as well as economic. It is also argued by some that this is encouraging for both China and India, who want US support in their standoffs with Taiwan and Pakistan, respectively, to pursue their own public diplomacy. The two are spending millions of dollars on overseas public relations. The two countries are working hard at promoting cultural exports, and on image campaigns.

While introduction of Asia or India in particular to the west would have been a more recent phenomenon, India’s soft power had penetrated several countries in South and Southeast Asia for decades or even centuries.

In fact, in Southeast Asia, there is an increasing competition or rivalry between China and India for influence, which has resulted in India going that extra mile to draw attention to its solid Buddhist credentials. Buddhism originated in India around the 5th century BC, although it declined after having flourished for many centuries. However, it spread across Asia, winning adherents in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Japan, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia and China. Buddhist monks traveled far to spread the religion. Scholars came to India to study at its universities. There was a healthy exchange of ideas, of philosophic, religious and cultural traditions right from ancient times. The impact of this interaction and exchange can be seen and felt to date across Asia. It is this shared Buddhist heritage that Delhi is now emphasizing in its engagement with East and Southeast Asia.

Although the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha as he came to be called, was born in Nepal and not India, all the important milestones in his life, whether it was his enlightenment, his first sermon or his attainment of nirvana, happened in India. Most of the important sites of significance to Buddhists the world over are in India.

While India has emphasized its cultural and civilizational links with East and Southeast Asia for decades, this diplomacy has received a boost with the pan-Asian initiative to revive Nalanda University. An ancient seat of learning, Nalanda University was primarily a center of Buddhist studies, but it also imparted training in fine arts, astronomy, politics and languages. The university died a slow death around the 12th century AD. However, there is a giant, multinational effort now to set up an international university at Nalanda that will capture the grandeur, spirit and essence of this renowned seat of learning. Several countries, including India, Japan, Singapore and China, are part of this effort. And while India is at the center of the Nalanda initiative (the university being located here), China is ensuring that its links with the university are not forgotten. Besides being part of a mentor group (headed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen) that will provide vision and direction to the Nalanda initiative, China has contributed funds for the Xuan Zang Memorial Hall in the university. It is making sure that its links with Buddhism are taken note of.

Meanwhile, China has been making systematic efforts to be seen as the main Buddhist centre. However, China's effort to project its Buddhist credentials has been tarnished by its record in Tibet. Indian officials say that so long as the Dalai Lama lives in India and millions of Tibetan Buddhist refugees remain in India, China's claims over Buddhism will be weak. While China's Buddhist credentials are questionable thanks to its record vis-a-vis Tibetan Buddhists, that of India's is impeccable. China cannot match India's formidable record as a protector of Buddhism. India has provided refuge to millions of Tibetan Buddhists fleeing Chinese oppression.

Indian officials now admit that in the past India neglected highlighting adequately its central role in the Buddhist world and its Buddhist legacy. In the process, "it surrendered the mantle of being the custodian of Buddhist heritage and its leadership role in the Buddhist world, which was quickly appropriated by countries like China and even Japan, which is being corrected now.

In the past five years, India has fought back, to reclaim what the government believes is India's by right - that it is India which is at the heart of the Asian civilization, that in many ways, India has been the cultural trend setter. Last year, India built a Buddhist temple in Luoyang in China. It underscores the fact that Buddhism in China is an Indian export. The temple is in the Baima temple complex where a Chinese emperor welcomed Buddhist monks from India 2,000 years ago. "The temple in Luoyang has been built in the Indian style. It marks the fact that Buddhism traveled to China from India.

India has made Buddhism the core of its soft-power push in Asia. This is aimed not only at reminding countries of their long-standing links with India but also that the roots of their cultural heritage lie in India.

Similarly, the spread of Hinduism to Southeast Asia. The civilization of India influenced the languages, scripts, calendars, and artistic aspects of these peoples and nations. Prominent Hindus (e.g., Swami Sadananda Maharaja) from India have visited South East Asia for the purpose of exploring the Hinduism of these places.

Spread of Hinduism in Southeast Asia in particular, introduced by the Indianized kingdoms of the 5th to 15th centuries, but may also extend to the earlier spread of Buddhism from India to Central Asia and China by way of the Silk Road during the early centuries CE. The concept of the Indianized kingdoms is based on the Hindu and Buddhist cultural and economic influences in Southeast Asia. These Indianized kingdoms developed a close affinity and internalised Indian religious, cultural and economic practices without significant direct input from Indian rulers themselves.

While the issue remains controversial, it is thought that Indianization was the work of Indian traders and merchants, although later the travels of Buddhist monks such as Atisha became important. Most Indianized kingdoms combined both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and practices in a syncretic manner. Kertanagara, the last king of Singhasari, described himself as Sivabuddha, a simultaneous incarnation of the Hindu god and the Buddha.

Similarly, Southeast Asian rulers enthusiastically adopted elements of rajadharma, (Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, codes and court practices) to legitimate their own rule and constructed cities, such as Angkor, to affirm royal power by reproducing a map of sacred space derived from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

In terms of cultural commonalities, a defining characteristic of the cultural link between South East Asia and Indian subcontinent is the spread of ancient Indian Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist culture and philosophy into Myanmar, Thailand, Malaya, Laos and Cambodia. Indian scripts are also found in South East Asian islands ranging from Sumatra, Java, Bali, south Sulawesi and most of the the Philippines. The impact of Indian culture is visible in the following notable examples:

• Hinduism is practiced by majority of Bali's population.
• Hindu mythological figure Garuda features in the coat of arms of Indonesia, Thailand and Ulan Bator.
• Hindu temple architecture-style features prominently on several ancient temples in South East Asia including Angkor Wat, which was dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu and features on the flag of Cambodia.
• Batu Caves in Malaysia is the most popular Hindu shrine outside India.
• Erawan Shrine, dedicated to Brahma, in Thailand is one of the most popular religious shrines in the country

Having said all these, I want to see what has been the impact of soft power in international politics. I would argue that soft power is good, but it can be an effective tool in foreign policy only if it matched by hard power, effective diplomacy, including military diplomacy. Soft power cannot be turned into effective influence in a nation or a region unless followed by its hard power. That is how they is a term coined, smart power, a mix of both hard and soft power. A country needs to pursue both hard and soft power to get the right influence and affect policies in a country. Indian movies have been popular in Afghanistan even in the 1990s, but that soft power did not help India in any way. Pakistan, with the help of Taliban, swayed their influence in that country, belittle what India has had.

Let us look at something closer home. Chinese food, Chinese movies have been popular all over the world. Indians love Chinese food. My husband loves Chinese food, the kung-fu movies, but that does not affect his perception on China. He has very hardline views on China. Similarly, Indian curry has been very popular, but that has not necessarily reflected in favourable outcomes for India. Nonetheless, it is a useful tool in enhancing one’s image. But it has to be matched by and followed up with hard power, effective diplomacy. Otherwise, India’s music and culture, will remain as simple attraction for the outside world but not anything of influence in international politics.

Monday, November 16, 2009

AQ Khan's Admission on Chinese Assistance to Pakistan in the Nuclear Arena

Here's a link to a story in the Washington Post on the Chinese aid to Pakistan in the nuclear arena. Pakistani nuclear scientist AQ Khan, in a written statement, provided to the Washington Post, has stated that China gave Pakistan enough enriched uranium in '82 to make 2 bombs.

China-Pakistan cooperation in the nuclear and missile arena since the 1980s has been well-known, certainly in India among the strategic community. However, here's the admission by the father of the Pakistan nuclear bomb.

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 13, 2009

In 1982, a Pakistani military C-130 left the western Chinese city of Urumqi with a highly unusual cargo: enough weapons-grade uranium for two atomic bombs, according to accounts written by the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and provided to The Washington Post.

The uranium transfer in five stainless-steel boxes was part of a broad-ranging, secret nuclear deal approved years earlier by Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto that culminated in an exceptional, deliberate act of proliferation by a nuclear power, according to the accounts by Khan, who is under house arrest in Pakistan.

U.S. officials say they have known about the transfer for decades and once privately confronted the Chinese -- who denied it -- but have never raised the issue in public or sought to impose direct sanctions on China for it. President Obama, who said in April that "the world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons," plans to discuss nuclear proliferation issues while visiting Beijing on Tuesday.

According to Khan, the uranium cargo came with a blueprint for a simple weapon that China had already tested, supplying a virtual do-it-yourself kit that significantly speeded Pakistan's bomb effort. The transfer also started a chain of proliferation: U.S. officials worry that Khan later shared related Chinese design information with Iran; in 2003, Libya confirmed obtaining it from Khan's clandestine network.

China's refusal to acknowledge the transfer and the unwillingness of the United States to confront the Chinese publicly demonstrate how difficult it is to counter nuclear proliferation. Although U.S. officials say China is now much more attuned to proliferation dangers, it has demonstrated less enthusiasm than the United States for imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear efforts, a position Obama wants to discuss.

Although Chinese officials have for a quarter-century denied helping any nation attain a nuclear capability, current and former U.S. officials say Khan's accounts confirm the U.S. intelligence community's long-held conclusion that China provided such assistance.

"Upon my personal request, the Chinese Minister . . . had gifted us 50 kg [kilograms] of weapon-grade enriched uranium, enough for two weapons," Khan wrote in a previously undisclosed 11-page narrative of the Pakistani bomb program that he prepared after his January 2004 detention for unauthorized nuclear commerce.

"The Chinese gave us drawings of the nuclear weapon, gave us kg50 enriched uranium," he said in a separate account sent to his wife several months earlier.

China's Foreign Ministry last week declined to address Khan's specific assertions, but it said that as a member of the global Non-Proliferation Treaty since 1992, "China strictly adheres to the international duty of prevention of proliferation it shoulders and strongly opposes . . . proliferation of nuclear weapons in any forms."

Asked why the U.S. government has never publicly confronted China over the uranium transfer, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said, "The United States has worked diligently and made progress with China over the past 25 years. As to what was or wasn't done during the Reagan administration, I can't say."

Khan's exploits have been described in multiple books and public reports since British and U.S. intelligence services unmasked the deeds in 2003. But his own narratives -- not yet seen by U.S. officials -- provide fresh details about China's aid to Pakistan and its reciprocal export to China of sensitive uranium-enrichment technology.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington declined to comment for this article. Pakistan has never allowed the U.S. government to question Khan or other top Pakistani officials directly, prompting Congress to demand in legislation approved in September that future aid be withheld until Obama certifies that Pakistan has provided "relevant information from or direct access to Pakistani nationals" involved in past nuclear commerce.

Insider vs. government

The Post obtained Khan's detailed accounts from Simon Henderson, a former journalist at the Financial Times who is now a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who has maintained correspondence with Khan. In a first-person account about his contacts with Khan in the Sept. 20 edition of the London Sunday Times, Henderson disclosed several excerpts from one of the documents.

Henderson said he agreed to The Post's request for a copy of that letter and other documents and narratives written by Khan because he believes an accurate understanding of Pakistan's nuclear history is relevant for U.S. policymaking. The Post independently confirmed the authenticity of the material; it also corroborated much of the content through interviews in Pakistan and other countries.

Although Khan disputes various assertions by book authors, the narratives are particularly at odds with Pakistan's official statements that he exported nuclear secrets as a rogue agent and implicated only former government officials who are no longer living. Instead, he repeatedly states that top politicians and military officers were immersed in the country's foreign nuclear dealings.

Khan has complained to friends that his movements and contacts are being unjustly controlled by the government, whose bidding he did -- providing a potential motive for his disclosures.

Overall, the narratives portray his deeds as a form of sustained, high-tech international horse-trading, in which Khan and a series of top generals successfully leveraged his access to Europe's best centrifuge technology in the 1980s to obtain financial assistance or technical advice from foreign governments that wanted to advance their own efforts.

"The speed of our work and our achievements surprised our worst enemies and adversaries and the West stood helplessly by to see a Third World nation, unable even to produce bicycle chains or sewing needles, mastering the most advanced nuclear technology in the shortest possible span of time," Khan boasts in the 11-page narrative he wrote for Pakistani intelligence officials about his dealings with foreigners while head of a key nuclear research laboratory.

Exchanges with Beijing

According to one of the documents, a five-page summary by Khan of his government's dealmaking with China, the terms of the nuclear exchange were set in a mid-1976 conversation between Mao and Bhutto. Two years earlier, neighboring India had tested its first nuclear bomb, provoking Khan -- a metallurgist working at a Dutch centrifuge manufacturer -- to offer his services to Bhutto.

Khan said he and two other Pakistani officials -- including then-Foreign Secretary Agha Shahi, since deceased -- worked out the details when they traveled to Beijing later that year for Mao's funeral. Over several days, Khan said, he briefed three top Chinese nuclear weapons officials -- Liu Wei, Li Jue and Jiang Shengjie -- on how the European-designed centrifuges could swiftly aid China's lagging uranium-enrichment program. China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to questions about the officials' roles.

"Chinese experts started coming regularly to learn the whole technology" from Pakistan, Khan states, staying in a guesthouse built for them at his centrifuge research center. Pakistani experts were dispatched to Hanzhong in central China, where they helped "put up a centrifuge plant," Khan said in an account he gave to his wife after coming under government pressure. "We sent 135 C-130 plane loads of machines, inverters, valves, flow meters, pressure gauges," he wrote. "Our teams stayed there for weeks to help and their teams stayed here for weeks at a time."

In return, China sent Pakistan 15 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a feedstock for Pakistan's centrifuges that Khan's colleagues were having difficulty producing on their own. Khan said the gas enabled the laboratory to begin producing bomb-grade uranium in 1982. Chinese scientists helped the Pakistanis solve other nuclear weapons challenges, but as their competence rose, so did the fear of top Pakistani officials that Israel or India might preemptively strike key nuclear sites.

Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, the nation's military ruler, "was worried," Khan said, and so he and a Pakistani general who helped oversee the nation's nuclear laboratories were dispatched to Beijing with a request in mid-1982 to borrow enough bomb-grade uranium for a few weapons.

After winning Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's approval, Khan, the general and two others flew aboard a Pakistani C-130 to Urumqi. Khan says they enjoyed barbecued lamb while waiting for the Chinese military to pack the small uranium bricks into lead-lined boxes, 10 single-kilogram ingots to a box, for the flight to Islamabad, Pakistan's capital.

According to Khan's account, however, Pakistan's nuclear scientists kept the Chinese material in storage until 1985, by which time the Pakistanis had made a few bombs with their own uranium. Khan said he got Zia's approval to ask the Chinese whether they wanted their high-enriched uranium back. After a few days, they responded "that the HEU loaned earlier was now to be considered as a gift . . . in gratitude" for Pakistani help, Khan said.

He said the laboratory promptly fabricated hemispheres for two weapons and added them to Pakistan's arsenal. Khan's view was that none of this violated the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, because neither nation had signed it at the time and neither had sought to use its capability "against any country in particular." He also wrote that subsequent international protests reeked of hypocrisy because of foreign assistance to nuclear weapons programs in Britain, Israel and South Africa.

U.S. unaware of progress

The United States was suspicious of Pakistani-Chinese collaboration through this period. Officials knew that China treasured its relationship with Pakistan because both worried about India; they also knew that China viewed Western nuclear policies as discriminatory and that some Chinese politicians had favored the spread of nuclear arms as a path to stability.

But U.S. officials were ignorant about key elements of the cooperation as it unfolded, according to current and former officials and classified documents.

China is "not in favor of a Pakistani nuclear explosive program, and I don't think they are doing anything to help it," a top State Department official reported in a secret briefing in 1979, three years after the Bhutto-Mao deal was struck. A secret State Department report in 1983 said Washington was aware that Pakistan had requested China's help, but "we do not know what the present status of the cooperation is," according to a declassified copy.

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang promised at a White House dinner in January 1984: "We do not engage in nuclear proliferation ourselves, nor do we help other countries develop nuclear weapons." A nearly identical statement was made by China in a major summary of its nonproliferation policies in 2003 and on many occasions in between.

Fred McGoldrick, a senior State Department nonproliferation official in the Reagan and Clinton administrations, recalls that the United States learned in the 1980s about the Chinese bomb-design and uranium transfers. "We did confront them, and they denied it," he said. Since then, the connection has been confirmed by particles on nuclear-related materials from Pakistan, many of which have characteristic Chinese bomb program "signatures," other officials say.

Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said that except for the instance described by Khan, "we are not aware of cases where a nuclear weapon state has transferred HEU to a non-nuclear country for military use." McGoldrick also said he is aware of "nothing like it" in the history of nuclear weapons proliferation. But he said nothing has ever been said publicly because "this is diplomacy; you don't do that sort of thing . . . if you want them to change their behavior."

Warrick reported from Islamabad. Staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington and Beijing bureau assistant Wang Juan contributed to this report.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My book, Uncertain Eagle: US Military Strategy in Asia, is out ....

Uncertain Eagle: US Military Strategy in Asia is a book that has essentially looked into the military strategy of the United States in Asia and how the changing strategies might impact on India and other countries in Asia. While the US continues to be the sole superpower, major rising powers such as China, Russia, Japan and India have begun to exert greater influence and challenge the United States in Asia as well as globally. However, rising powers are not the only American concern. Other challenges include terrorism threat from al Qaeda and its associates, threat of nuclear proliferation and ‘loose nukes’ in Iran, North Korea, and even Pakistan. Thus the US strategy has to respond to a wide range of perceived threats. Whether the US will remain an active player in the Asian military rivalries or choose to be an offshore balancer will be a key question. These choices have implications for both the Asian stability and the Indian security.

The Unites States' commitment to and involvement in the Asia-Pacific in the coming decades is a reality that Washington has firmly come to grips with, given the nature of emerging threats and challenges that it faces. The long-term security of the region will certainly depend on the US continuing to extend its deterrence mechanism, because if US allies as well as friends are not convinced of US commitment, a possibility of Japan and even South Korea going nuclear cannot be ruled out.

India, US and the Afghanistan Quagmire

Here's an analysis on the Afghanistan issue and the options left with India, US and other major players. The analysis appeared first on the ORF website.

Former US President George Bush, while speaking recently at the Hindustan Times leadership summit, argued that India and the US should work together in Afghanistan both to build a democratic nation in Afghanistan as well as for the larger goal of peace and stability in the region. But this will work only if India and the US have shared objectives and a shared vision for the future of Afghanistan.

While the US has reiterated time and again that securing and stabilising Afghanistan remains a vital US national security interest, in reality it appears to have a much more limited objective – ensuring that the Taliban/ al Qaeda do not use the Pakistan-Afghan territory to carry out terrorism against the US.

While it is abundantly clear that it remains an important goal to ensure that the Taliban/ al Qaeda do not use the Pakistan-Afghan territory to carry out terrorism against the US, it can be achieved two ways. One, as several US officials point out, it can be achieved through reconstruction and development of the Afghan society; and second, by putting together some sort of a coalition of forces, including the so-called moderate Taliban, thereby making them responsible partners in the governance of Afghanistan. There are many who believe that the US is actually looking at a face-saving exit option at the earliest possible. Even as early as February this year, the Obama Administration was hinting at moving away from the objective of establishing a full-fledged democracy to simply stabilizing and ensuring that the country is not a haven for terrorists. The US will be willing to get out of Afghanistan the minute they are able to stitch together a coalition of parties, including the so-called moderate Taliban, who might give a guarantee of ‘no-attacks’ for a short span of time.

However, if the US were to leave Afghanistan after putting together some sort of a coalition, what are the consequences?

One possibility is that China might step into the breech. China has vital strategic interests – economic and energy interests – driving its Afghanistan policy. The role of Pakistan in achieving those interests is significant. Gwadar port is a case in point. Gwadar port offers China the ability to monitor the transport of its energy from the Persian Gulf, and in the eventuality of some disruption, it will offer a safer alternative route. Besides, Chinese interests in Afghanistan span from natural resources to its problems with Uighurs in the Xinjiang Province. In terms of natural resources, China already has its footprint there in Aynak copper mine site. In 2007, when President Karzai invited foreign investment in the natural resources sector, China Metallurgical Group won the rights to develop the copper mine site at $ 3.5 billion. Aynak copper mine site is one of the world’s largest undeveloped fields. Additionally, Chinese companies are looking at the prospect of developing untapped oil, gas and iron resources in Afghanistan. Chinese entry into Afghanistan will also be in the interests of Pakistan, as it will keep India at a distance (at least Pakistan hopes that way). Second, Chinese entry into Afghanistan with Pakistani acquiescence will ensure that they do not come under Taliban attack. Pakistan will ensure an understanding with the Taliban that China is not there for exploitation of the country, but will be beneficial for the country for its overall development. Under such a scenario, China will gain certain amount of accommodation with the Taliban, which might also be beneficial to China in dealing with its own problem in Xinjiang. The role of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in this issue cannot be minimised. A renewed relationship between China and Pakistan/Saudi Arabia may not be in the best interests of India. In fact, this could become the new bloc of non-democracies under the Chinese leadership against the democratic world of US, India and other countries such as Japan and Australia. The possibility of China exercising better influence in these medium-sized countries, thereby reducing US role and influence in the coming decades, cannot be ruled out. The changes in Singapore is one example. Singapore, which has been a US ally, is increasingly looking to China for answers. It is even considering a change of official language from English to Mandarin. Therefore, China will not let go of an opportunity to enter Afghanistan keeping in view several strategic interests thereby achievable.

If the US leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan could also step into its place. Islamabad will use the opportunity to solidify Taliban influence across the country, thereby serving its interests and limiting Indian influence. For Pakistan, Taliban offers the best bet for countering and curtailing India’s regional influence. However, there are some Pakistan watchers in India who believe that a Talibanised-Afghanistan may not be in the interests of Pakistan. It was Pakistan which created, nurtured and sustained Taliban all through the late 1990s and early 2000s. The difference today is that Taliban is not the same “pure” Taliban as in early 2000s, but has gotten enmeshed totally with Al Qaeda and it is very difficult to differentiate today between Afghan Taliban and the Al Qaeda. Pakistan is deeply worried about the Al Qaeda factor. However, the point is that if the US leaves Afghanistan, the Al Qaeda does not really have a purpose hanging on in Afghanistan unless they want a safe haven. It is quite possible that Al Qaeda will leave Afghanistan for Africa or elsewhere where the US interests are becoming deeper because of increasing Chinese penetration.

Will Russia comeback to Afghanistan? Russian interests are to see that Afghanistan does not fall completely into the hands of Taliban, which will drag the entire country into becoming a terrorist haven. Although Russia does not share a border with Afghanistan, many of the Central Asian states do, and there are ethnic and cultural linkages between the two sides and a Taliban takeover could have negative effects in Russia that is already battling terrorism. Besides, a Talibanised-Afghanistan could, in the long-term, build the prospects for a US return not only to Afghanistan but also to several countries in Central Asia, where it will be looking for bases. Therefore, Russian interests are to ensure that there is no Taliban takeover of Afghanistan besides development of Afghanistan as a peaceful and stable country in its neighbourhood. In the development arena, there are already several Russian companies (under the Russia-Afghanistan business council formed in 2007) supplying flour, timber, sunflower oil and other products. Additionally, they are looking at exporting building technology; they are in the process of commissioning a cement factory in Afghanistan and a hydropower station on the River Salang.

Finally, what are India’s options? In the backdrop of US departure from Kabul, there will be vacuum waiting to be filled by China and Pakistan. Indian interests go beyond natural resources to seeing a stable and democratic Afghanistan that will be congenial to Indian interests. In tactical terms, Indian interests might be ensuring safety of its 4,000-odd workers and security personnel who are engaged on a number of infrastructure and other reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan remains crucial to India in other ways. India has invested $ 1.2 billion in Afghanistan for the reconstruction of the country since the US war on terror began in 2001, making it the largest regional donor. However, Pakistan continues to view India’s growing influence in Afghanistan as a direct threat to its own interests. Indian influence in the country paled as the Pakistan-supported Taliban gained power in 1996. During the Taliban period, India extended its support to an anti-Taliban coalition, the Northern Alliance, mainly consisting of Tajik and other non-Pushtoon groups. Can India revive such ties in the current setting? There are several analysts who suggest that India should lend support to the non-Pushtoon Northern part of Afghanistan against the Pushtoon-dominated Southern part of Afghanistan. Some analysts have gone to the extent of suggesting that the country should be split up on these lines. Some Russians too have argued on similar lines, although they recognize that this will not be a long-term solution to several problems emanating from southern Afghanistan. While splitting the country is not in the long-term interests of India, it could probably undertake measures to enhance development in northern Afghanistan, where by the way, influence of Pakistan is also minimal. India will have to step-up its developmental activities, including construction of schools, hospitals, which will gain India significant support among the local populace. In this regard, it might do well if India manages the support of other major regional players like Russia, Iran that might like to see a strengthened Northern Alliance. While India should strive to make Northern Alliance stronger, it also has to engage with the Pushtoons, at least to gain in tactical terms. India should also canvass with the US to bring together a larger coalition of nations including Russia, China, Iran and may be some of the Central Asian states in bringing about long-lasting peace in Afghanistan. What India does today in Afghanistan will have long-term impact not only for the entire region, but for its own role as a major Asian player.