Threat, Perception and Response in South Asia


Nuclear Control Institute
Washington, DC


Research Fellow
Center for Science and International Affairs
Harvard University

This paper was prepared under the auspices of the
Nuclear Control Institute's Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Project
for presentation to the
Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, New Delhi
October 10, 1988


Risks of nuclear terrorism and blackmail have increased significantly in recent years mainly because of three factors: the growth and spread of nuclear weapons, the expansion of civilian nuclear programs and the increase in extremist political groups waging campaigns of terror. The growing danger encompasses much of the world. Lax or inadequate security over nuclear materials and weapons in one country could be exploited to trigger atomic blackmail and terrorism elsewhere. Inadequate security at nuclear facilities also could provide extremists waging a campaign of terror within a nation an opportunity to create a situation of national terror by seizing or sabotaging a civilian nuclear power plant or a research reactor or a laboratory.

Nuclear power stations, research reactors and laboratories are vulnerable to acts of sabotage and blatant terrorist attacks that could cause the release of dangerous amounts of radioactive materials. Expanding civil commerce in weapons- usable nuclear materials has raised the specter of theft of plutonium or uranium in significant quantities in plots aimed at political blackmail or terror. There is also a danger of theft of nuclear arms by terrorists.

The increasing level of technological sophistication among terrorist groups, coupled with a renewed determination to achieve political goals, has significantly raised the potential for nuclear terrorism. It is imperative that this expanding threat of nuclear blackmail and terror should spur policymakers to focus on corrective measures to ensure stringent security and safety at nuclear installations.[1]

Developments in several parts of the world are prompting scholars and policymakers to reexamine old theories of terrorism. The terrorist slaying of more than 1,800 civilians this year alone in Punjab[2] has belied arguments that, "Simply killing a lot of people has seldom been a terrorist objective. Terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead."[3] Few scholars had earlier believed that terrorists would resort to weapons of mass destruction. Many experts had also discounted the possibility of terrorists seizing a nuclear power plant or research reactor to draw national and international attention to their demands. Their argument was that extremists would not dare engage in such terrorist actions because of the strong public outrage and mass repulsion those actions would trigger in society. However, we know that terrorists' beliefs and actions often seem devoid of any rationality. It is now coming to be seen that the threat of nuclear terrorism and blackmail must be assumed to be real. The probability of such actions occurring in relation to other forms of terrorism may be low. Yet, a single successful act of nuclear terrorism could have such far-reaching consequences within a nation, or even globally, that extraordinary vigilance and precautions against such an act should be exercised wherever nuclear weapons, materials or facilities are found.

Indeed, if risk can be calculated as probability times consequence -- and the low probability of nuclear terrorism is multiplied by the astronomical consequence of a successful act - the risk of nuclear terrorism must be considered to be high, and to be growing in proportion to increases in nuclear weapons, materials and facilities and to the rise of terrorism worldwide. The level of terrorism reached an all-time record level in 1987, and this year acts of international terrorism are expected to be even higher.[4]

In South Asia, the potential for nuclear terrorism should be a matter of special concern for several reasons. one is the rapidly expanding nuclear programs in India and Pakistan involving massive investments in the construction and operation of civilian nuclear power plants, research reactor, laboratories and reprocessing and enrichment facilities. Another reason is the growing stockpiles of nuclear fissionable materials, possibly of actual weapons, in each country; protecting them requires special technologies, safety systems and security checks and surveillance. A third reason is that both neighbors continue to be wracked by high levels of terrorist activities that pose major political challenges to their national leaders. Indeed, one nation or perhaps both lost a leader at the hands of terrorists since 1984. A fourth reason is the growing sophistication of terrorist methods of operation and attack and the increasing availability of portable weapon systems like shoulder-fired rockets that can be used to accurately strike nuclear installations.

The growing international threat of nuclear terrorism prompted the U.S. Congress to enact the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act in 1986.[5] The legislation directs the President to open a number of national and international initiatives aimed at diminishing the dangers of nuclear blackmail and terrorism. The law also requires the executive branch to closely monitor nuclear materials and restrict international shipments of bomb-grade materials of U.S. origin. various government departments are required to periodically report to Congress about physical -security standards for shipment and storage overseas of U.S.-derived nuclear materials. This legislation has helped to evolve a coherent and stringent physical-security safeguards policy for the country.

What specifically should be done in South Asia in response to the dangers of nuclear blackmail and terrorism? That is the question that this paper seeks to answer. The Nuclear Control Institute's International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism made a number of recommendations of significance and relevance to South Asia. We explore the threat in the region and the relevance of Task-Force recommendations to policymakers and analysts in South Asia. We also examine conventional terrorism in the subcontinent in the context of increased nuclear activities in the region. We provide an overview of recent nuclear developments in South Asia. And we conclude with policy recommendations and specific proposals to check the threat of nuclear blackmail and terrorism.


There are a number of ways terrorists in South Asia or elsewhere could strike nuclear terror in society. They include seizing a nuclear plant for blackmail, sabotaging a nuclear reactor and triggering a Chernobyl-type disaster, making or stealing a nuclear device for blackmail or detonation, truck- bombing a nuclear plant, stealing weapons-grade uranium or plutonium or carrying out an ambush-attack on a shipment of nuclear materials. The most likely form of atomic terrorism may involve, without mass killing or destruction, a credible threat or hoax to trigger a nuclear device or to sabotage a reactor or disperse radioactive material for highly coercive results. Such a threat or hoax is likely to cause severe social, psychological and political disruption in society.[6]

Factors fostering the international dangers of nuclear terrorism include apparent evidence of state support, even sponsorship, of terrorist groups. In South Asia, we witness the ominous spectacle of India accusing Pakistan of training and arming Sikh dissidents, and Pakistan charging the Kabul regime with sponsoring terrorism within Pakistan.[7] Three other general factors of special relevance to the subcontinent are: a growing number of possible terrorist targets in the civil nuclear programs; the possibility of procuring nuclear equipment and materials from illicit nuclear markets; and "the growing incidence, sophistication and lethality of conventional forms of terrorism, often to increase shock value.[8]

Pakistan's nuclear program, built on what has been documented as a state-sponsored campaign of nuclear espionage and smuggling, carries some inherent dangers. It is conceivable that some Pakistani official might seek to emulate the exploits of fellow countrymen involved in nuclear smuggling and be tempted to sell nuclear technology to political extremists within their own country or to agents of an Arab country that they perceive as friendly. Diversion of nuclear materials, radioactive wastes and equipment to the international black market by unscrupulous agents poses a major terrorism problem. Norway admitted earlier this year that two shipments of heavy water were diverted to the black market, arousing suspicions that India may have bought the material.[9] In the hands of political extremists or a maverick state, an atomic device or weapons-usable material could become a powerful instrument of nuclear blackmail and terror in a holy "jihad" against enemies.[10]

Protection of Nuclear Weapons

The Task Force's recommendations for consideration by policymakers include multilayered protection of deployed or stored nuclear weapons in order to deter or preclude terrorist actions. In particular, the most advanced protective systems consisting of "permissive action link" (PAL) devices with limited-try and command-disable functions should be integrated into nuclear weapons to leave stolen arms useless. Safeguarding arms is a major task for the nuclear-weapon states because of the large number of weapons in this world, with each superpower maintaining more than 23,000 warheads in its arsenals. The task is particularly formidable in Western Europe because of the size of nuclear programs and a high level of terrorist activity by sophisticated, well-armed groups operating across national borders.[11]

It is not publicly known if India and Pakistan have actually produced any nuclear bombs despite their acknowledged capability to do so. There have been several reports in recent months suggesting that one or both may already have some bombs in the basement,[12] but the evidence to back up those claims has been thin. Neither side is known to have tested nuclear weapons; however, India's 1974 "peaceful nuclear explosion" (PNE) was tantamount to demonstrating a weapon detonation, while Pakistan is reported to have been provided the design of a tested weapon by China. Political and military leaders in both countries could have little confidence in relying on untested weapons.[13] But if either nation has bombs or plans to manuf acture them, it would also have to develop weapon-protection technology to guard against unauthorized use by disgruntled officers or terrorists.

The Task Force has suggested that the command, control and communications systems for deployment and use of nuclear weapons should be such as to deny data access to terrorists for a weapon detonation. The Task Force has also recommended that nations with nuclear weapons deployed within their borders should establish Nuclear Emergency Search Teams (NESTs) modeled after the NEST operated by the U. S. Department of Energy to f ind and render harmless stolen nuclear weapons, improvised nuclear devices or weapons-usable materials.[14]

Protection of Nuclear Materials

The safeguarding of nuclear materials and facilities should be a matter of utmost concern to authorities in India and Pakistan. The Task Force has made five recommendations on protecting nuclear materials.

1. Civil nuclear materials worldwide in forms suitable for use in weapons should be given protection equivalent to government protection of weapons. Both India and Pakistan are currently applying reprocessing and enrichment technologies and producing weapons-usable materials.[15] Pakistan's high-speed gas centrifuges at Kahuta are producing enriched uranium without its evident need by the country's small atomic power program. It is also trying to complete construction of the Chashma and Rawalpindi reprocessing plants. India has a growing stockpile of unsafeguarded, bomb- grade plutonium, with reprocessing facilities operating at Trombay and Tarapur. India's nuclear submarine project has led to research on enrichment technologies, and nuclear authorities have admitted that they have succeeded in enriching uranium "to any level the country needs."[16] The Indian government says the plutonium extracted f rom. the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) spent fuel is f or use in fast-breeder reactors. It is important that nuclear materials, even if dedicated for peaceful purposes, should be provided the same kind of protection as governments possessing nuclear arms provide to their weapons and weapon components and materials.

2. The cost of protecting weapons-usable forms of nuclear materials should be factored into decisions to produce and use them. The high costs of producing weapons-usable materials in peaceful nuclear programs and protecting them should be weighed carefully against any actual benefits in using the materials commercially. The United States, which still has a virtual monopoly of the world market in highly-enriched uranium (HEU), is now encouraging other nations to modify their research reactors to run on low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuels because of growing concerns over the possible theft or diversion of weapons-usable materials. Domestically, the United States has avoided use of HEU and plutonium fuels in the civilian power sector in all but one reactor and is requiring the conversion of licensed research reactors to LEU. Nevertheless, international availability of plutonium and HEU is growing, and there is a consequent increase in global shipments of weapons- usable material that could invite terrorist actions. Development of commercial laser isotope enrichment technologies is expected sooner or later to give countries the ability to quickly -- and secretly -- produce HEU. Production of HEU is now accomplished by gaseous diffusion and centrifuge techniques and so far has been restricted mostly to nuclear- weapon states. The spread of enrichment technologies to other countries is proceeding despite the fact that "the possibility of rationalizing ... production (of HEU) by claiming a civilian use is rapidly losing its legitimacy."[17]

A striking lack of commercial legitimacy applies especially to the clandestine enrichment project in Pakistan. similarly, India's breeder program, which is explained as a long-term energy security plan to overcome the country's limited uranium resources, can absorb only a small fraction of the plutonium available for commercial separation and use. India's civil program in plutonium oxide and mixed oxide fuels will raise problems of safety and security and involve high costs of storage. Yet, stockpiles of separated plutonium far in excess of commercial needs are bound to increase in the next couple of years with the addition of a new facility at Kalpakkam to the nation's formidable 130-ton reprocessing capacity currently.[18]

3. In the meantime, reexamination of civil applications of plutonium can be conducted on economic grounds. Security and other economic costs necessitate a global reappraisal of the rapidly expanding separation and use of civil plutonium. Governments should consider limiting plutonium use to small fast-breeder research and development and demonstration programs but avoid large-scale commercial commitments. India's large thorium reserves provide it a safer but challenging route to breeder development. Global reserves of nonweapons-usable fuels for conventional reactors are large and readily available at low prices to nations embracing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the fullscope international safeguards regime. Since India and Pakistan have refused to sign the NPT or accept fullscope safeguards, they cannot readily avail themselves of low-enriched uranium. But this problem has not proved insuperable: India's one power station using LEU is now being supplied by France, itself a non-NPT state, while supplies of natural-uranium fuel required by all other power reactors in India and Pakistan's sole power station are not encumbered by NPT restrictions.

4. Conversion of reactors from weapons-grade uranium fuels to lower-enriched uranium not usable in weapons should be considered at this time. as well. Almost all HEU-fueled power and research reactors in the world can be converted to LEU fuels without significant reduction in performance. It was the threat from terrorism, as well as proliferation concerns, that prompted the U.S. Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactor Program (RERTR) to develop a high-density, low-enriched fuel not suitable for weapon use. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ordered most licensed reactors on university campuses and at research institutes to change to LEU fuels. The only research facility in South Asia fueled by HEU is Pakistan's tiny PARR research reactor in Rawalpindi; it has received HEU from the United States under IAEA saf eguards. [19] This only serves to highlight Pakistan's lack of need for its rapidly expanding capability to produce HEU.

5. To the extent civil materials suitable for weapons are used, extraordinary precautions should be taken to protect them from terrorists. Increased use of bomb-grade materials in civilian atomic programs has heightened the dangers of nuclear blackmail and terrorism. The development of plutonium and enrichment technologies in South Asia, and the growing volume of weapons-grade materials at facilities, storage sites or in transit, increase the risk- of theft or diversion by terrorists or criminal bands. The United States abandoned domestic commercial-scale reprocessing and breeder programs due to security, economic and safety considerations. The U.S. Congress pressed ahead with the domestic anti-plutonium policy despite a lack of support from the Reagan Administration.

On the other hand, contrary to the mandate of the 1978 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act (NNPA), the Administration has succeeded in facilitating the development of plutonium-fuel economies in Western Europe and Japan by not opposing extraction of plutonium from U.S. supplied LEU fuel burned in reactors. Earlier this year, Washington signed a controversial agreement with Tokyo providing Japan a 30-year blanket authorization to extract plutonium from spent fuel of American origin.[20] With large quantities of civil plutonium being processed, stored and shipped in commercial activities in Western Europe and Japan, opportunities f or terrorist diversion of the bomb-grade material are increasing every year in the advanced industrial nations.

According to current projections, nearly 400 metric tons of civil plutonium -- twice the quantity of plutonium contained in the combined nuclear arsenals of the superpowers -- will have been separated in the non-Communist world by the turn of this century.[21] Considering that the original implosion-style bomb dropped on Nagasaki contained only six kilograms of plutonium, it is conceivable that terrorists or criminal elements could steal or otherwise acquire a small quantity of plutonium out of the hundreds of tons in nuclear commerce to build a crude atomic device. HEU can be even a more tempting target for terrorists to steal. It is less radioactive and toxic than plutonium and, therefore, less difficult to handle, although more HEU than plutonium is required to fashion a bomb.

An expert group of former weapon designers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in a paper presented to the Task Force, say the design and construction of a crude device is within the reach of a terrorist group with the resources to recruit a technical team of three or four specialists with a range of knowledge and skills but no previous nuclear-weapon experience.[22] Policymakers in South Asia would serve their national-energy as well as national -security interests by providing in-depth protection to weapons-usable forms of plutonium and uranium, if not avoiding their production and use altogether. Shipments of such materials by land should take place with armed guards in armored vehicles especially designed to make penetration or removal all but impossible. Shipments by sea should utilize naval escorts and involve constant surveillance and constant communications with quick-response f orces. Air shipments of highly toxic plutonium should be avoided altogether unless plutonium-shipment casks can be developed that are demonstrated to withstand a worst-case crash test of a cargo plane.

Protection of Nuclear Installations

The safeguarding of nuclear installations is an important part of counterterrorism plans. Nuclear plants and research reactors in several parts of the world have little protection against a truckbomb threat. The vehicular bombing of the U.S. embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the series of similar suicide bomb attacks that followed were an eye-opener of what terrorists could do to nuclear facilities. Such attacks on nuclear facilities could conceivably be carried out with catastrophic consequences by terrorists locked in a desperate, sinking position who have nothing to lose and who do not f ear death because their communities or sects would honor them as martyrs. This threat is particularly real in South Asia because of the strong sectarian or ethnic f ervor behind several extremist or separatist campaigns. Power reactors with containment systems are relatively more resistant to truck bombs than research reactors, although such attacks can wreck the control room and essential secondary systems and trigger a core meltdown and catastrophic radioactive releases.

The Task Force has recommended nine approaches to improving protection of nuclear facilities:

1. Denial of access to nuclear facilities should be the basic consideration in protecting against sabotage.

2. Thorough vigilance against the insider threat is needed.

3. Guard forces should be thoroughly trained and authorized to use deadly force.

4. The basis used for designing physical protection of nuclear plants should be reviewed to ensure that it accurately reflects the current threat.

5. Power reactors should be protected against vehicular threats.

6. Research reactors should have adequate security provisions against terrorists.

7. Reactor safety designs should be reexamined to protect against an accident caused by terrorists.

S. IAEA physical-protection guidelines should be reviewed and updated.

9. Protection standards should be spelled out unambiguously.

There is an urgent need for upgrading physical protection systems at the dozens of nuclear reactors, laboratories, fuel fabrication and reprocessing plants and research institutes scattered across India. New measures should be taken to diminish the risks of a severe reactor meltdown by sabotage. Improved safety systems that can better withstand terrorist raids should be installed at facilities and effective tamper- proof devices and procedures should be developed f or control rooms. This is a task made more important by the structural, design and operation problems plaguing some Indian nuclear facilities.[23] Because potential saboteurs or thieves would likely need the cooperation of one or more "insiders" in a nuclear installation, regular and rigorous monitoring of employees is necessary as part of a general upgrade of physical- protection standards at facilities.

Published reports indicate the Pakistani authorities have enforced elaborate security,[24] including the stationing of fighterjets and radars, at the top-secret Kahuta complex, but such arrangements are geared to deterring an enemy air strike rather than securing the plant from sabotage. Security patrols in the absence of advanced, in-depth safety systems cannot preclude sabotage or shield critical areas of a plant from a strike by terrorists aided by insiders.

Technological advancements in safeguarding nuclear facilities and materials and increased funding for physical-protection measures are necessary to contain the threat of atomic terrorism. Two suggestions of the Task Force are of particular relevance to South Asia. One is a reappraisal of the size of exclusion zones at nuclear reactor sites to ensure that the zones are large enough so that the reactor would withstand a truck bomb exploding at the perimeter fence. Another suggestion is the backfitting of reactors with bunkered, redundant safety features designed to withstand the effects of successful terrorist strikes.[25]

The Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has told the national Parliament that it is incorporating new safety features in reactors and emergency plans at sites in response to the Chernobyl disaster,[26] but such systems should be designed not only to obviate an accidental core meltdown but also to provide in- depth protection against terrorist attack and insider threat. A bunkered system now in use in Western Europe is designed to ensure removal of heat from a reactor core with cooling water even if terrorists, with insider assistance, sabotage a plant or take charge of the control room. The decay-heat removal system could be turned off only from controls located in an isolated penetration-resistant bunker away from the main plant.[27]


South Asia, which had experienced very low levels of organized terrorism until the early 1980s, has undergone a dramatic transformation to become the scene of the bloodiest terrorist violence in the world. In terms of total casualties so far in 1988, it ranks easily as the world's most terrorism- battered region, followed by the Middle East and Western Europe. This dubious distinction and the growing nuclear aspirations of the two major powers in the region place a heavy onus on Indian and Pakistani leaders to adopt ef f ective methods to counter the dangers of nuclear blackmail and terrorism in the subcontinent. The devastating explosion at Pakistan's Ojheri ammunition dump, believed to be the handiwork of saboteurs, has shown on a smaller scale the possible catastrophic effects of a terrorist strike on a nuclear facility. Not only has the menace of terrorism grown in intensity, it has afflicted new regions and become more advanced technologically. Indeed, an examination of South Asian terrorism reveals that in the past one year it has evolved toward more grisly and indiscriminate actions. Terrorists appear looking for bigger and more dramatic actions to draw regional and world attention to their causes.

Terrorism has indeed become a global menace, and today no nation or region or community is totally immune from terrorist violence or from its effects. The single deadliest terrorismrelated episode in recent decades was the 1985 mid-air destruction of an Air-India jumbo jet, killing all 329 passengers and crew members on board. The bloody surge of terrorism across much of the world has prompted two new U.N.- sponsored international agreements this year: the International Civil Aviation Organization helped expand the Montreal Convention to include terrorist attacks on passengers aboard planes or at airport as extraditable international crimes, while an international convention was signed in Rome making a terrorist strike on a ship at sea a similar crime. These agreements followed attacks on citizens and property of 84 nations by international terrorists in a total of 75 countries in 1987.[28]

South Asia is a region where terrorists are displaying increasing sophistication in their strikes, not only in weaponry but also in ways of carrying out attacks. Combating terrorism has become the biggest political challenge to the national leadership in India and Pakistan. And if present trends are any indication, terrorism may remain the main political problem in both countries at least for some time. This trend serves to highlight the growing dangers of atomic blackmail and terrorism in a subcontinent which is home to about a fifth of the world's population.

Terrorism in India

India is bearing the brunt of the terrorist violence in South Asia. The incidence of terrorist attacks in India has risen sharply in recent years, with the state of Punjab being the scene of much of the violence. Several other parts of India, including the northeastern region, the northern hills of West Bengal, the states of Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, and the territories of Chandigarh and New Delhi, also have been wracked by what can be described as terrorist-related violence.

In Punjab, according to government count, nearly 500 civilians were killed in hit-and- run attacks during the period from 1980 to just before the June 1984 army assault on extremists who were holding out inside the Golden Temple. After a one-year-long lull sparked by the rout of the temple militants, a fresh surge of terrorist violence broke out with the assassination of moderate Sikh leader Sant Harchand Singh Longowal shortly after he signed a so-called "peace accord" with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in July 1985. Gandhi's mother and predecessor, Indira Gandhi, earlier fell victim to two Sikh assassins from her own security guard in October 1984. However, since late 1985, the intensity and frequency of terrorist attacks have risen sharply, with no end in sight to the ever-growing spiral of violence. The extremists have extended their terror campaign to many areas outside Punjab, forcing authorities to constantly review and beef up security in a prime terrorist target -- New Delhi. The extremists, armed with powerful, sophisticated guns, have often targeted government and police officers and Hindu and moderate Sikh politicians; but, frequently, they have engaged in the random mass killing of ordinary Hindu civilians. This year has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of attacks and fatalities.[29]

India has been troubled by sectarian violence for decades, reflecting a constant conflict between its federal system and ethnic and regional aspirations.[30] Ethnic unrest and rebel violence have been major Indian security concerns since the Chinese-aided Naga and Mizo separatist insurgencies flared in the 1960s.[31] But the recent growth and expansion of terrorism across the nation strikes at the very heart of India's Constitution and democratic system. While hit-and-run attacks have declined in the northeast (except in Tripura state), terrorist violence has in recent years spread to the hills of Darjeeling, the plains of Tamil Nadu and the farms of Punjab. Groups blamed for terrorist attacks in India include the exiled Tamil militants from Sri Lanka, Gurkha nationalists, Kashmiri Moslem fundamentalists and Tripura tribal rebels. Several Sikh groups have helped turn the rich farms of Punjab into India's "killing fields." They include the Khalistan Commando Force, the Babbar Khalsa, the All-India Sikh Students Federation, the Khalistan Liberation Army, the Dal Khalsa and the Dashmesh Regiment. At least two of these groups, the Babbar Khalsa and the Dashmesh Regiment, are believed to be active overseas, particularly in Canada and West Germany.[32]

Terrorism in Pakistan

Pakistan has likewise been wracked by ethnic and sectarian conflict. The unrest has been sparked by what is perceived by ethnic and linguistic minorities like the Sindhis, Baluchis and Pathans to be a Punjabi stranglehold over the government, military and economy. The Shiite sect has also been restive.

The secession of the Bengali -speaking East Pakistan in 1971 was a result of the failure of the national leadership to integrate the country's five main ethnic communities into a cohesive federal system. The dominance of the military in national politics and the absence of democratic institutions through which regional and ethnic aspirations could be articulated have fostered alienation and unrest among minorities, who believe they have little say in political decision-making. The Punjabi military-bureaucratic oligarchy, however, has failed to respond to the aspirations of the minority groups or "draw the necessary lessons" from East Pakistan's secession.[33] The "Jiye Sind" movement has been pursuing an underground secessionist campaign. Pakistan's turbulent domestic politics has also helped fuel violence in society. There has been a sharp rise in ethnic disturbances and terrorist attacks, and hundreds have been slain this year alone.

The use of Pakistan as a base by several Afghan guerrilla organizations and the arrival of millions of Afghan refugees have helped aggravate internal strife. Western nations have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sophisticated weapons through Pakistan to the Afghan rebels, but large quantities of the supplies have found their way into underground Pakistani arms markets. Elements in the Pakistani Army, police and the refugee administration are still operating scams to sell weapons and relief supplies for personal gain.[34]

The easy availability of advanced weapons, including rockets, grenades and automatic rif les, has helped increase criminal and terrorist activity in Pakistani society in recent years. This is evident from the recent explosion of terrorist violence in Sind province, where gun-wielding Sindhi and Muhaj ir militants left more than 245 people dead in a two-day orgy of bloodletting.[35] The induction of large quantities of deadly arms in society is bound to undermine law and order and have serious long-term social and political consequences. one result has been that Pakistan has already become a major arms-purchase center and base for international terrorists, particularly from the Middle East. The seizure of a Pan Am jetliner at Karachi airport in September 1986 by suspected Abu Kidal terrorists, in which more than 20 people, mostly of Indian descent, died, was testimony to that.

In 1987, 17 percent of the 832 incidents of international terrorism recorded in the world occurred in Pakistan alone; if Pakistan is excluded, the level of international terrorism actually declined by almost 10 percent last year from the 1986 level.[36] The U.S. government blames Soviet-trained agents of the Afghan WAD intelligence service of carrying out 127 of the 138 international terrorism strikes in Pakistan last year, leaving 234 people dead and 1,200 wounded. That toll is about half of the total casualties in international terrorism attacks worldwide in 1987. Several terrorist strikes by Iranian and Palestinian agents in Pakistan have been reported. A devastating explosion at the Ojheri ammunition dump, believed to be the work of saboteurs, left hundreds dead or wounded last April, underlining the growing menace of terrorism in Pakistan. Last year in July, 70 Pakistanis were killed and 200 wounded when two car bombs, probably planted by WAD agents, exploded in a crowded Karachi market.

Pakistan's strategic relations with the United States and the presence of many Arab and other Moslem radicals on its soil have made it a good location for staging terrorist attacks on U.S. and other targets. Three of the WAD attacks in Pakistan were "apparently aimed at U.S. targets."[37] Despite the traditionally close relations between the United States and Pakistan, there has been an underlying current of anti-U.S. hostility in the Pakistani society. This manifested itself in 1980 when demonstrators burned down the American embassy in Islamabad. The rise of terrorist violence has prompted fortress- like security at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, and also at the embassy in New Delhi, where several diplomats have been attacked by unidentified gunmen in recent years.[38]

A problem with analyzing terrorism and its wider implications for any region is that one community's or nation's terrorists can often be "martyrs" or "freedom fighters" for a rival sect, group or government. This is exactly what helps nurture terrorism. This paper does not judge the merits of any group's political or sectarian demands, but focuses on the potential threat to nuclear facilities from organizations waging campaigns of mass terror. Terror includes deliberate, indiscriminate killing of civilians. In South Asia, terrorism appears to draw its strength from several factors.

1. Ability of groups to work across national frontiers. Because international frontiers in South Asia were drawn by colonial rulers without due consideration of natural geographic boundaries or national security interests, they are difficult to patrol. When subject to hot pursuit, or out of choice, terrorists often are able to easily cross national borders. Some groups have sanctuaries across the frontiers. Insurgents in India's northeast frequently flee through porous borders into Burma or Bangladesh. Sri Lankan Tamil militants cross the narrow Palk Straits separating their island from south India in boats despite Indian naval patrols. Sikh terrorists in Punjab escape to Pakistan through the flat border. Afghan gunmen of all political hues move across their country's frontier with Pakistan at will. The growth of transborder terrorism in south Asia carries an inherent danger of extremists inflicting casualties on people of different nationality or ethnic identity. In Sri Lanka, for example, we now have two opposing militant groups, the Tamil "militants" and the Marxist Janatha Vimukhti Peramuna (People's Liberation Front), whose current campaigns of violence are motivated by a common feeling: deep resentment of Indian pressure and domination. Trans-border terrorism also has serious nuclear terrorism implications because "perpetrators may not be inhibited from committing nuclear violence against foreign populations."[39]

2. Technological sophistication. Groups engaged in terrorist violence in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are armed with highly sophisticated, offensive weapons. Despite a year of intense fighting, the Indian Peace-Keeping Force in Sri Lanka has failed to subdue well-armed Tamil rebels. Sikh extremists are armed with AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons that are often more sophisticated than those handled by the Punjab police. Indian police sources have been quoted as saying that the militants may have recently also acquired rockets. The terrorist bands in Pakistan are also much better armed than police.

The illicit sale of some of the advanced weapons intended for Afghan anti-Marxist rebels to extremist groups in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka has made the task of combating terrorism in South Asia very difficult. The induction of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sophisticated arms for the Afghan rebels, and the movement and use of large quantities of those weapons beyond the originally intended frontiers, are going to leave a long-lasting scar on some societies in South Asia. Any new government in Kabul would face a major law-and-order problem, and there is a potent danger that bands or organizations dissatisfied with the powersharing arrangement may resort to terror campaigns.[40] But it is the flow of these arms into the hands of terrorist elements in Pakistan and India that is a cause of immediate concern. The illicit trade in these weapons could make Pakistan a potential shopping center for terrorists from the Middle East, West Europe and elsewhere.

3. State sponsorship for terror. The growth of international terrorist movements has been linked to the willingness of some nations to directly or indirectly sponsor campaigns of terror, often through proxies and other means.41 State sponsorship of groups has strained relations between India and Pakistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka and India. India's Naga and Mizo insurgents received training in China, but the military assistance ended after the death of Chinese leader Mao Tse- tung. Indian allegations that Pakistan is training and arming Sikh dissidents have cast a deepening shadow over earlier tentative efforts to improve bilateral relations between the two nations.

Pakistan denies assisting Sikhs. The Western and Pakistani markings on weapons seized by the Indian security forces from Sikh militants suggest another possibility: that they were possibly purchased by the extremists from an underground Pakistani arms market and smuggled into India. Pakistan and India have now agreed to a new border-patrolling scheme aimed at curbing the movement of militants. Pakistan earlier had accused India of aiding the now defunct Al-Zulfikar group, which hijacked a Pakistani airliner to Kabul. India had provided sanctuary to Sri Lankan Tamil rebels before it changed policy and signed a peace settlement with Colombo last year.

4. Drug-dealing. Although extortion, "protection" fees and bank robberies are important means to finance terror, drugtrafficking is beginning to play a key role -- one that conceivably could bring an organization the financial means needed to acquire nuclear material for nuclear blackmail and terror. Pakistan and Afghanistan are major narcotics suppliers to the West, and terrorist groups are seeking a large slice of this lucrative commerce since they are better equipped to face the high risks that are involved. Sikh militants are reported to have engaged in drugfor-weapon barters in Pakistan, and arrests of some Tamils overseas indicate profits from drug- dealing were probably pumped into the insurgent campaign.

5. Halo of martyrdom. The willingness of political extremists to undertake suicidal terrorist missions reflects the phenomenon of "holy terror."[42] Admiration of "martyrs" is widespread among disaffected groups or sects in the Middle East and South Asia. The halo of martyrdom that surrounds terrorist elements is a key factor in the brutal killings of civilian bystanders or other actions aimed at creating mass terror. It also could play a role in a suicidal truck-bomb attack on a nuclear reactor, in the takeover and sabotage of a reactor or in other potential acts of atomic terror or blackmail.

Trends in terrorism indicate that South Asian nations will have to devote larger resources and high-level attention to the tasks of combating political violence in the next few years. The character and level of terrorist violence calls for increased investments in physical-protection systems at nuclear installations. Close monitoring of shipments of nuclear materials, rigorous surveillance of nuclear facilities and installation of updated anti-sabotage systems would help to deter atomic terrorism.

Risks of nuclear terrorism appear relatively high in South Asia for three reasons.

1. The extreme, civilian-targeted nature of terrorism. Several groups are defining their enemies in a very broad sense: any members belonging to a rival community, sect or organization. The brutalization of violence is reflected in the indiscriminate targeting of such people in terrorist bombings, shootings or ambushes. This facet of South Asian terrorism should be of the greatest concern to officials involved in building protection systems for nuclear plants and weapons- usable materials. It is conceivable that a terrorist band may target a nuclear reactor located away from their main area of operation in a region populated by those that they classify as "enemies." There are many nuclear sites in India and Pakistan that could be so defined by indigenous extremists or by trans-border terrorists.

Terrorists everywhere in the world have little regard for the safety of civilians and many groups sanction the killing of ordinary citizens. But unlike the mass ethnically-oriented targeting of civilians carried out by several South Asian groups, most terrorist organizations elsewhere attempt to select their targets of attacks with a degree of discrimination. This is true of the Latin American terrorists or Spain's Basques (who conducted a series of attacks on a nuclear company[43]) or West Germany's Red Army Faction, which targeted NATO facilities and weapons manufacturers. Even the Irish Republican Army or the Palestinian groups that have left many civilians dead by their actions have not used tactics of mass targeting of members of particular communities.

The belief that terrorist groups would not target nuclear installations or try to steal weapons-usable materials for fear of arousing mass anger in society may be valid to some extent if the terrorists are widely seen as sensitive to public reaction and are selective and discriminatory in their tactics, although it is not difficult to conceive of several situations where extremists operating beyond their national frontiers may be tempted to create a major crisis and disaster by sabotaging an atomic facility. However, in situations where enemies are defined very broadly by underground groups, the specter of nuclear terrorism within national borders seems real. The technology of terrorism has become sophisticated, and such a strike is possible. Recent innovations in technology, like the Semtex explosives and fuses that can delay detonation of homemade bombs by more than two weeks, may provide new opportunities to political extremists waging campaigns of terror.

A bomb attack on a nuclear facility could be motivated by a group's desire to undermine citizens' confidence in their own government, damage the political credibility of the ruling leadership and unleash a general reign of terror in society. Sabotage, carried out with "insider" support, is also possible because potential saboteurs can learn techniques of destruction. wisdom lies in stemming such a danger with concrete, defense-in-depth measures. Some Sikh militants arrested in the United States told authorities that they had received paramilitary training to blow up a reactor in India; however, little evidence on that purported plan eventually emerged.

2. Availability of portable weapon systems. Another reason for concern about nuclear terrorism in South Asia is the growing availability of powerful and portable weapon systems that potentially can be used to attack nuclear installations. These weapons include surface-to-air rockets (like the shoulder- fired Stinger missiles) and anti-tank rockets. The danger from such weapons to nuclear installations is particularly high in Pakistan. However, the difficulty in patrolling the India- Pakistan frontier effectively implies that terrorist elements in India could acquire these portable systems, and it might be possible that some of them may already have them. Sri Lankan Tamil fighters, whose links with India's Tamil Nadu state remain unsevered, are armed with sophisticated rockets. The unauthorized purchase of Stingers by Qatar,[44] and possibly by Iran, from third parties underlines the problems in preventing diversion of missiles and other powerful weapons intended for Afghan rebels. There has been concern in the U.S. Congress that these rocket systems could become deadly instruments of terrorism.

3. The internationalization of domestic terrorism. Another reason for concern is that underground groups are establishing links with other organizations overseas for purposes of training, procuring arms and receiving funds. Sikh and Tamil militants, for example, are connected to several groups in the West, and some Tamil "Tigers" are said to have received training from the PLO. These groups of coreligionists serve as overseas fund-raisers, and also provide sanctuary to fugitives. Two Sikh extremists accused of murder in India are awaiting in a U.S. jail the outcome of extradition hearings,[45] while in Canada authorities have cracked down on Sikhs suspected of aiding the Punjab extremists.

Overseas connections can help domestic terrorists to learn new tactics of terror and obtain technology for nuclear-related terrorism. Because no region can be insulated from terrorism trends in another part of the world, advanced technologies of terrorism, like detonation of explosives by remote control, can readily be transferred to new groups. The outlawed JVP in Sri Lanka has demonstrated how new tactics of terror and sophisticated weapons can easily be acquired. There is also the danger that the large human traffic and close relations between South Asia and the Middle East might spur ominous links between international terrorists in the Middle East and South Asian extremists.

Resort to nuclear terrorism may be particularly tempting to older terrorist movements that have been effectively countered and that may be prepared to attempt a "terrorism spectacular" to regain prominence.[46] The longer terrorists are involved in underground campaigns, the more brutal and hardened they tend to become. And the greater is their desperation to attract national and international attention to their cause. Such terrorists might have few inhibitions in sabotaging a nuclear facility or resorting to weapons of mass destruction like biological or chemical arms.

Acceptance of legitimate political demands of a group may help in cutting off much of its grassroots support but not necessarily help end attacks on civilians and others who could be used as pawns. It is often difficult to draw the line separating terrorism from criminal activity. Bank raids, extortion by threat and terrorist- imposed levies often provide extremists a good living. Even after many of a group's original demands have been fulfilled, underground extremists may still practice violence because the skills they acquired in a career of terrorism cannot be transferred easily to any profession other than crime.[47] It might not be realistic to expect hardened terrorists to lay down arms and move to other occupations; often original demands are revised or expanded or new issues are given precedence in a way that continues to fuel the cycle of violence.

Also, the general tendency toward centralization and personalization of political authority in South Asian countries has increased the inability of state structures to accomodate ethnic concerns,[48] fueling unrest and violence. Political leaders should continue to search for solutions to the problems of terrorism in South Asia, but it would be only over-optimism to expect an early end to those problems.


The expansion of the nuclear programs in India and Pakistan calls for new measures to protect facilities and weapons-usable material. Such materials need to be physically protected in the same way as nuclear weapons, and should be moved from one site to another only under extraordinary security. The development of uranium enrichment in Pakistan is shrouded in secrecy, but most experts agree that Pakistan has the capability or has already succeeded in producing weapons-grade uranium. In India, commercial reprocessing and recycle of plutonium in the civilian program will increase substantially in the 1990s, making the task of material protection onerous.

Naturally, the question that arises is: What strategies have been adopted in India and Pakistan to deal with the threat of nuclear terrorism and blackmail? In India, a National Emergency Response Committee, set up following the Chernobyl disaster, has drawn up emergency evacuation plans to safeguard nuclear plants, their employees and the general public.[49] However, the so-called "Emergency Preparedness Plans" that were belatedly drawn up are geared to tackle accidents, not to deal with sabotage or a terrorist strike on a facility. However, some of the new safety features now being incorporated into the nuclear plants under construction would help in containing the effects of a deliberate release of radiation by saboteurs. The features include double containment walls designed to trap radioactive releases within a reactor, an emergency cooling system, an automatic shutdown system and a fail-safe design.[50] However, the plants currently in operation do not have all these safety features. It was only after Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's visit to Kalpakkam in early 1988 that the Indian government ordered that no new nuclear reactor be approved without emergency evacuation plans,[51] which have been in force in most countries for many years. In Pakistan, too, the Atomic Energy Commission has sought to deal with the issue of an accidental release of radiation but not specifically with the question of nuclear sabotage or an attack from weapon.[52]

This section outlines the current atomic construction activities and the nuclear expansion plans for the next 12 years in India and Pakistan in the context of the growing dangers of nuclear terrorism and blackmail in South Asia. The expansion of the nuclear programs in the two rival countries would place heavy burdens of safety and security responsibilities on authorities.

Nuclear Development in India

India has launched an ambitious civilian nuclear expansion program. The aim is to raise the installed nuclear power capacity to 10,000 MWe by the year 2000. At present, six nuclear power reactors with a total capacity of 1,230 MWe are in operation at Tarapur, Rawatbhata and Kalpakkam. Eight new Indian-designed CANDU reactors, each of 235 MWe, are currently under construction at four sites: Narora, Kaiga, Kakrapar and Rawatbhata. Work on four more reactors of 235-MWe size and six 500-MWe reactors is scheduled to begin after 1990.[53] India's nuclear plans also call for the completion of six additional 500-MWe plants by the year 2000, but these are likely to change because of a decision by Prime Minister Raj iv Gandhi to import two large reactors from the Soviet Union. An agreement on the purchase of two VVER-1000 reactors is likely to be signed this winter during a visit to New Delhi by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Rs. 48-billion (U.S.$3.5-billion) deal will be India's largest ever import contract. The decision to import reactors has been severely criticized by many Indian analysts, and there are indications that the proposed deal might actually be a quid pro quo for the Soviet lease of a nuclear-powered fleet submarine to India last January.

India, which operates a small experimental test breeder reactor at Kalpakkam, is designing a 500-MWe prototype fast-breeder reactor which it plans to build and commission by the turn of this century.[54] However, the present target of building a 10,000-MWe capacity and generating 10 percent of the country's total electricity requirements in the year 2000 from nuclear power appears unrealistic by most accounts. India I s nuclear power sector has been plagued by cost overruns, slippages and design and equipment problems. For example, the construction cost of the Narora station has increased more than two-and-half times because of what the government describes as "delays in the supply of critical equipment such as steam generators and the acquisition of land for the exclusion zone."[55] It seems unlikely that both Soviet reactors proposed to be imported will come on stream by the year 2000.

The reactor construction program has accelerated work in fuel technologies. With the exception of the U.S. -built Tarapur station, all Indian plants currently in operation or under construction are heavy-water reactors. Such reactors pose both a proliferation and a terrorism risk if the plutonium they produce is separated from spent fuel. India's high-flux Dhruva research reactor, capable of producing 25 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium annually, is now operating at full capacity.[56] Another plutonium-producing research reactor is CIRUS, which provided the plutonium for India's atomic device detonated in May, 1974.

India's stocks of separated civilian plutonium are projected to rise sharply in the next 10 years as the country expands its already significant reprocessing capacity. According to the head of India's atomic program, M.R. Srinivasan, the country's stockpile of separated plutonium outside the scope of international safeguards is expected to be thousands of kilograms in the next 10 years.[57] No official figures have been released on the amount of plutonium already separated by India, but one study estimates that India could have stockpiled 100 to 200 kilograms of plutonium by mid-1987.[58]

India's nuclear propulsion project, involving scientists from the Defense Research and Development Organization, the Bhabha Atomic Research Center and other institutions, has spawned a uranium enrichment project about which few details are available. Nuclear submarines in the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain are fueled by weapons-grade uranium (93 to 97 percent U235). But the new French Rubis design generates high propulsion power in a small reactor core by using uranium enriched by a factor of less than 10 percent, far below the 20- percent threshold for weapons applications.[59] Indian scientists involved in the SSN project should consider developing propulsion fuel of similar enrichment level to avoid the security risks associated with weapons-grade U-235.

Fuel for the nuclear reactors in operation is fabricated by the Hyderabad-based Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) , which has a capacity to manufacture 80 tons of PHWR fuel every year. In addition, the NFC also fabricates LEU oxide fuel for Tarapur using enriched uranium hexaf luoride imported f rom. France. NFC I s capacity is now being expanded to 225 tons in order to keep pace with the power construction program. Additional facilities also are under construction to fabricate fuel for the series of reactors scheduled to be built in the 1990s.[60] India has almost 42,500 tons of reasonably assured uranium resources, and recent aerial surveys have "established there are fairly rich deposits of uranium in Andhra Pradesh's Rayalaseema district and also in other places like Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya."[61]

The size of the current Indian nuclear program and the country's ambitious expansion program, seen in the context of the level of domestic terrorism, make the task of protecting nuclear facilities and weapons-usable materials formidable. The projected sharp increase in the separation and use of civil plutonium in India over the next decade will place heavy physical -security demands on the nuclear establishment and police and intelligence organizations. With India's current emphasis on pursuing plutonium recycle and breeder reactors to eventually replace the current generation of CANDU reactors, large quantities of weapons-usable plutonium will have to be protected at reprocessing and fabrication facilities, storage sites and in transit.

The question of safeguarding any nuclear arms is difficult to address in the absence of f irm international evidence of India having some bombs in the basement. India can readily build a small nuclear arsenal, and there are indications that BARC scientists have been working on weapon designs f or some time. But most accounts suggest that India is following a policy of restraint at present.62 Prime Minister Gandhi has indicated the declared policy of restraint will change if Pakistan develops nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, it is not too early to consider the extraordinary and expensive measures that would need to be taken, including highly sophisticated PAL and NEST capabilities, if India is forced to take the unfortunate decision of building a nuclear arsenal. It may be in India's own interest to put of f any decision on a nuclear military program until the mid-1990s by which time its civilian nuclear program is expected to grow to such an extent that it would leave Pakistan far behind in the capability to produce the materials and components for nuclear warheads.[63] By the year 2000, India would also have separated more civilian plutonium than the plutonium China now has in its nuclear arsenal.[64]

Nuclear Development in Pakistan

The death of Pakistan President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq on August 17 has cast a cloud over the future of the country's nuclear program. General Zia had played a key role in rapidly expanding Pakistan's nuclear base in the 11 years that he was in power. The manner in which Islamabad has managed to acquire sensitive nuclear equipment and materials by circumventing nuclear-export controls has shown the ineffectiveness of the current international nonproliferation regime.

It has been well documented that the Kahuta plant was built with the stolen blueprints of the Almelo enrichment facility in the Netherlands. Pakistan also built a facility at Dera Ghazi Khan to manufacture uranium hexaflouride, the feedstock for the enrichment process, with smuggled equipment; almost the entire equipment for the installation was illicitly received piecemeal from West Germany between 1977 and 1980.65 Raids on industrial firms in three European countries in 1987 revealed a plot by West Germany's Leybold-Heraeus GmbH to smuggle equipment and components for a sophisticated enrichment plant to Pakistan. This indicates that Pakistan might be building a second enrichment facility at Golra Sharif, west of Islamabad.[66]

Any government which takes power in Pakistan from the present interim Cabinet will have three choices: to expand, continue or cut back Pakistan's nuclear activities. Pakistan has only one nuclear power plant: the 125-MWe CANDU-design KANUPP reactor supplied by Canada. Pakistan is considering a French offer to sell a 900-Mwe, LEU-fuelled nuclear power plant under IAEA safeguards but without Islamabad accepting fullscope international safeguards on its nuclear program. The offer is apparently contingent on Islamabad surrendering all legal and financial claims against the French failure to complete a contracted reprocessing plant at Chashma;[67] Paris terminated the project in 1978 in response to Western nonproliferation concerns. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission is expected to revise its plans to build five 900-MWe LWRs by the ,year 2000 because so far it has been unable to find a contractor even for the first reactor.

Pakistan is believed to be working on reprocessing facilities in Chashma and Rawalpindi's PINSTECH and "New Labs" complex; however, it is not known to have any unsafeguarded spent fuel to reprocess as both KANUPP and the PARR research reactor are subject to IAEA inspections. The Chashma plant, the largest, is designed to have a 100-ton reprocessing capacity and to be capable of producing 100 to 200 kilograms of plutonium a year when completed. The "New Labs" facility would be able to extract 10 to 20 kilograms of plutonium, while the one at PINSTECH is believed to be a small experimental-scale facility. Pakistan also has two small heavy-water production plants at Multan and Karachi and a fuelfabrication facility at Chashma-Kudian.[68]

Pakistan claims the Kahuta facility is intended to manufacture only LEU for its civilian nuclear program. Analysts question that claim, however, because Pakistan's sole operating power reactor does. not need LEU nor is the country realistically expected to construct a LEU-fueled reactor despite its plan to build five of them. At the same, it has declined to permit verification of its assurances to Washington that it will not enrich uranium above the five-percent level.[69] Most experts now believe that Pakistan has succeeded in manufacturing HEU, although it is difficult to estimate how much of this weapons material it already has produced. According to one study, Kahuta may have produced 25 to 50 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium in 1986, its first year of full operation, and that it now can produce enough HEU f or one to f our weapons annually.[70] U.S. intelligence sources have been quoted as saying that Islamabad had enriched uranium to 93.5-percent level.[71]

The Reagan Administration , nevertheless, has continued military and economic aid to Pakistan, a key U.S. ally, by waiving the nonproliferation provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act.[72] President Reagan has certified three times to the U.S. Congress that Pakistan has no nuclear explosive devices. Despite the Pervez smuggling case, the President on January 15, 1988, also waived the requirement of the Solarz Amendment for an aid cutoff to a country found trying to illegally export nuclear items that may "contribute significantly" to its nuclear-weapons capability. And the U.S. Congress, which has struggled to reconcile its nonproliferation concerns with American geopolitical interests in Pakistan, extended until April, 1990, a waiver to the application of the Symington Amendment.

It is evident from the foregoing discussion that the need for anti-terrorism measures at nuclear facilities and the safeguarding of weapons materials will increase as the nuclear programs in India and Pakistan grow even larger. In the long run, the growing capability of India, and to a lesser extent of Pakistan, to export nuclear reactors, equipment or materials could further contribute to the risks of nuclear terrorism. New markets could mean that large global stocks of weapons-usable materials already being processed, stored and shipped (often across national frontiers) will grow even more. Policies of technology denial by the major nuclear suppliers are viewed by some analysts to have spurred indigenous research and development in major Third World countries, leading to the gradual emergence of Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan and South Africa as potential members of a new club of emerging nuclear exporters. 73 Several of these potential suppliers may enter the international nuclear market in the 1990s. The emergence of such second-tier suppliers could promote South-South cooperation in the nuclear field.

China is already providing nuclear expertise to Pakistan under a bilateral accord. India, with its large nuclear industrial base, claims it already is in a position technically to export a reactor, despite its recent decision to import two Soviet plants. According to the DAE, several nations including Libya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Malaysia have inquired about possible Indian nuclear exports. India's typical 235-MWe reactor could be an attractive export to developing nations with small electricity grid structures. The reactor conveiably could be sold with a complete fuel cycle -fabrication, waste management and reprocessing technologies that India has mastered. If a lower cost of goods and services can be achieved by the second-tier group in relation to those charged by the established suppliers, it may help spur South-South cooperation and larger international nuclear commerce.[74]

With the anticipated growth in the annual throughput of bulkhandling facilities in South Asia, material-accountancy and physical -security measures now in use will not be sufficient to protect against the possible diversions of weapons-usable materials from the waste process streams in fuel plants in small quantities that nevertheless would be quite substantial from a weapons perspective. Such undetected diversions by insiders could produce quantities promptly or over a period of time that would pose a threat to national or international security. The Nukem nuclear fuel-cycle scandal in West Germany has served to highlight the absence of effective policing of low-level nuclear wastes against diversions of weapons-usable nuclear material. The scandal includes allegations that bomb-grade material had been diverted and shipped to Pakistan or Libya, but the allegations have not, to date, been substantiated. Nevertheless, the absence of non-destructive assay (NDA) policing of low-level wastes suggests that such diversions could go undetected either by international inspectors or by national plant operators.[75]


It should be clear that nuclear terrorism constitutes a significant danger in South Asia and that urgent steps should be initiated to upgrade the physical security and saf ety of atomic installations and materials. The danger has been nurtured and reinforced by the escalating level of terrorism in the region, the growing sophistication of terrorist methods of operation and attack, the large expansion of nuclear programs in India and Pakistan, and the increasing availability of portable, sophisticated weapon systems like shoulder-fired rockets that can be used with great precision to strike nuclear installations.

The danger of nuclear blackmail and terrorism in South Asia also springs from the way some extremist organizations in South Asia are defining as their "enemies" members of a single community, sect or organization. Any civilians belonging to such a rival body are targets of random attacks by underground extremists. This civil ian-oriented facet of South Asian terrorism strengthens the specter of nuclear terrorism in the region.

As long as the underlying social, political and sectarian factors fostering terrorism remain unchanged in society, the situation will not change. Since terrorists believe fervently that their causes are just, they are likely to utilize any opportunity or means to escalate the level and extent of violence. The longer a terrorist movement has been operating, the more desperate and hardened it seems to become. We discussed several militant groups engaged in campaigns of terror in South Asia. This was not to suggest that those or some other groups might actually engage in atomic blackmail or terror, but only to point out that the political outlook in South Asia is fraught with underlying dangers that have important short- and long-term implications for nuclear safety. Wisdom lies in devoting resources and high-level attention to the safeguarding of facilities and materials and the rigorous monitoring of nuclear shipments.

Physical-protection systems at sensitive facilities like Kahuta and the BARC complex may be relatively strong, but safety measures and security standards at some of the other Indian and Pakistani facilities tend to be sloppy. One of the key changes in protection standards at facilities should be a rigorous denial of access to unauthorized outsiders and constant monitoring through intelligence agencies of a possible "insider" threat. The reliability of nuclear plant employees should be periodically reviewed to deter insider links with terrorist elements. This is an essential measure in view of sabotage with insider support that has occurred in railways, oil facilities, telecommunications, power transmission stations and other vital installations in times of political unrest and demonstrations in South Asia.

Nuclear facilities should have penetration-resistant bunkers to prevent suicidal truck-bomb attacks. Protection forces at plants should have sharpshooters to prevent extremists armed with sophisticated weapons from gaining entry or firing a rocket from outside. Nuclear materials also need extraordinary security precautions. Weapons-usable materials should be protected like nuclear bombs, and even small quantities of these materials should be transported only under heavy guard.

Both India and Pakistan should pass domestic legislation on upgrading anti-terrorist safeguards and physical-security systems for facilities and materials and to enact tough penalties and sentences to those convicted of nuclear-related smuggling, theft, blackmail and terrorism.

On the international plane, both India and Pakistan should ratify the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. This would be an important contribution to the task of countering international nuclear terrorism. The Convention, which has now come into force, defines a wide range of nuclear terrorist activities and requires parties to make them criminal offenses and provide for the prosecution or extradition of offenders under domestic legislation. The Convention, seen as an important step to deter nuclear terrorism and blackmail, is mainly directed to the protection of shipments of peaceful nuclear materials between nations.

Regionally, India and Pakistan should evolve a framework of periodic discussions on counterterrorism and nuclear safety and protection systems. The oral agreement between Mr. Gandhi and Gen. Zia not to attack each other nation's nuclear facilities, and the visit of the late Pakistani President to India's Kalpakkam nuclear plant, held promise of increasing bilateral cooperation between the two neighbors. Terrorist violence is a major problem in both countries and should serve as an incentive, not a disincentive, to come closer together. The national -security interests of both countries would be enhanced by cooperation between them to diminish the dangers of conventional and nuclear terrorism by means of effective confidence-building measures.

In a broader context, such cooperation between India and Pakistan should be applied toward allaying mutual suspicions by striving for greater mutual transparency in their nuclear programs. By "transparency" we mean exchanges of information and reciprocal site visits to permit confirmation of the peaceful nature of nuclear activities and verification that certain provocative activities have been stopped. The difficulty of achieving such transparency under present circumstances cannot be minimized. in particular, without the cooperation and participation of China in such an arrangement, India will be most reluctant even to consider it. But achieving the greatest degree of transparency would be the safest and most secure state of affairs for the region if political conditions allow. In this regard, every effort should be made to minimize or avoid altogether the further production and use of bomb-grade nuclear materials, not only in this region but also in other parts of the world, because such restraint would be the best defense against these materials falling into the hands of terrorists or being used by nations in weapons.



1. For a detailed study of nuclear terrorism, see Preventing Nuclear Terrorism, The Report and Papers of the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism, Paul Leventhal and Yonah Alexander (editors) , Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1987. A shorter volume, edited by the same authors, is also available: Nuclear Terrorism: Defining the Threat, Pergammon/Brassey's, 1986.

2. BBC newscast, September 20, 1988. To cite another example, terrorism in the Middle East and its spillover into Western Europe left 295 people dead and 770 wounded last year (source: the U.S. State Department).

3. Brian Jenkins, "The Future Course of Terrorism," The Futurist, July/August 1987, p.8. 4. "Expert Says 1988 May Be Record Year For Terrorism," Washington Post, September 22, 1988, p. A22. The report quotes Jerry Bremer, the U.S. ambassador at-large for counterterrorism, as saying 1987 "was the worst year in history" and that figures on incidents through June 1988 indicate the level of violence would be much higher this year.

5. A good analysis of this Act and its significance is in Warren H. Donnelly, "Nuclear Terrorism: Implementation of Title VI of the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986," Issue Brief, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, October 22, 1987.

6. Report of the Task Force, Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 7-11. Also, Konrad Kellen, "The Potential for Nuclear Terrorism: A Discussion," in Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 106-107.

7. There is public concern in Pakistan that India may aid the secessionist "Jiye Sind" movement and some other Pakistani extremist groups.

8. Ibid., p. 8.

9. Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Lasse Seim announced in May 1988 that a shipment of more than 15 tons of heavy water had been missing since late 1983. It was later admitted that a second shipment also was missing. India strongly denied buying the heavy water ("Heavy Water Report Baseless: Rajiv," The Hindustan Times, May 7, 1988.)

10. Brahma Chellaney, "A Nuclear South Asia? India and Pakistan as Superpower Pawns," The Statesman, February 8, 1988.

11. Paul L. Leventhal and Milton M. Hoenig, "Nuclear Installations and Potential Risks -- The Hidden Danger: Risks of Nuclear Terrorism," Paper presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at Paris on January 8, 1987, and published in Terrorism, Vol. X, No. 1, 1987, p. 1-22.

12. UPI carried a story on its wire March 20, 1988, by Richard Sale that India had assembled some sophisticated low-yield nuclear weapons that can be delivered by its fighterjets. The report also quoted intelligence sources as saying India had also developed a nuclear warhead for its "Prithvi" ballistic missile. Newsweek (July 11, 1988, p. 42) claimed India had built 20 atomic warheads and Pakistan four bombs.

13. Warren H. Donnelly, "India and Nuclear Weapons," and "Pakistan and Nuclear Weapons," Issue Briefs, Updated August 23, 1988, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Dr. Donnelly contends that, "At the moment it seems likely that India will continue its course of restraint as long as Pakistan does not cross the nuclear threshold."

14. Report of the Task Force, Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 15-17.

15. "Nuclear Weapons and South Asian Security," Report of the Carnegie Task Force on Non-Proliferation and South Asian Security, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1988.

16. Brahma Chellaney, "Indian Scientists Work On Enrichment, Other Advanced Technologies," Nucleonics Week, March 11, 1987. Raja Ramanna, the then head of DAE, made the disclosure on India's enrichment success at a news conference in New Delhi but provided no details of the actual work or the enrichment process employed.

17. David Albright, "Civilian Inventories of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium," in Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit. , p 268. Also, see the section on fuel reprocessing and spent fuel management in the Nuclear Proliferation Fact Book, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 1985.

18. Department of Atomic Energy, Annual Report, 1987-88, DAE, Bombay. According to one study, India has a potential capacity at present of producing up to 154 kilograms of unsafeguarded plutonium annually (Report of the Carnegie Task Force, op. cit., p. 10) . By 1990, Indian power reactors would discharge an estimated 4.8 tons of plutonium in their spent fuel; that figure would rise to 16 tons by the year 2000 (source: David Albright, "World Inventories of Plutonium," Paper No. 195, Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, Princeton University, Princeton, 1986.

19. The fuel supplied to Pakistan has been enriched to 90- percent level (Albright, op. cit., p. 286).

20. The New U.S.-Japan Agreement, Backgrounder, The Nuclear Control Institute, 14 July 1988. Also, Brahma Chellaney, "Fears over U.S. Plutonium Agreement with Japan," The Age, Melbourne, April 4, 1988.

21. Paul Leventhal, Testimony on "Plutonium, Terrorism and the Federal Republic of Germany" to the Second Committee of Investigation of Bundestag (Parliament) , June 23, 1988, citing Albright, op. cit.

22. J. Carson Mark, Theodore Taylor, Eugene Eyster, William Maraman, Jacob Wechsler, "Can Terrorists Build Nuclear Weapons?", in Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 55-65.

23. Several official reports have pointed to problems, including structural and design deficiencies, at some facilities. For instance, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has reported design defects, leakages, cracking of equipment and repair problems at heavy-water production plants and even explosions at two of them -- Baroda and Talcher (Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Union Government, Scientific Departments, No. 6 and 7 of 1988). Also, see Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Unstarred Question No. 1078, Statement by minister of State for Science and Technology K.R. Narayanan, May 5, 1988.

24. See, for example, "The Bombs in the Basement," Rod Nordland, Newsweek, July 11, 1988, p. 42-45. 25. The Task Force Report, Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 21-25.

26. Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Starred Question No. 264, Rajya Sabha, Statement by the Minister of State of Science and Technology and Minister of State in the Departments of Ocean Developments, Atomic Energy, Electronics and Space, May 12, 1988, p. 35-41.

27. Leventhal and Hoenig, op. cit., p. 8-15.

28. United States Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1987, Department of State Publication 9661, August 1988, p. 4.

29. At least 2,000 people have been killed so far in Punjab this year, and "terrorism is now no longer confined to the Sikh dispute but has spread into general lawlessness." (Barbara Crosette, "Death Toll in India after Heavy Floods is Reported at 1000," New York Times, Oct. 3, 1988, p. Al and A6.)

30. A good case study is Myron Weiner's Sons of the Soil: Migration and Ethnic Conflict in India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1978.

31. Leo E. Rose, "India's Regional Policy: Nonmilitary Dimensions," and P.R. Chari, "Security Aspects of Indian Foreign Policy," in Stephen Philip Cohen (Ed.), The Security of South Asia, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1987. Also see: B.L. Abbi (editor), Northeast Region: Problems and Prospects of Development, Center for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh, 1984.

32. United States Department of State, op. cit., p. 64.

33. Shaukat Hassan, "Problems of Internal Stability in South Asia," PSIS Occasional Papers, Number 1, 1988, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, p. 27-28.

34. Edward Girardet, "Corrupt Officials Reap Spoils of Afghan War," The Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 1988, p. 1.

35. New York Times, Oct. 2, 1988, p. 18, and Oct. 3, 1988, p. A6.

36. United States Department of State, op. cit., p. 1 and 2. The report classifies the Punjab violence as domestic terrorism and not as international terrorism, and therefore its figures, tables and graphs do not incorporate the Sikh terrorist slayings in India. The Indian government, however, believes the Sikh campaign draws sustenance from extraterritorial links. If the Punjab casualties were included in the 1987 figures, there would be a rise, not a decline, in the level of international terrorist violence.

37. United States Department of State, op. cit., P. 27.

38. These were Middle Eastern and East Bloc diplomats. The last major attack on a U.S. diplomat in the region occurred in Kabul when Ambassador Dubbs was assassinated before the Soviet military intervention. It has been speculated that the Lockheed C-130 Hercules carrying Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq, U.S. Ambassador Arnold Raphel and others may been brought down by a missile or some other act of sabotage; however, according to preliminary reports by U.S. investigators, mechanical failure appears to be the most probable cause of the crash (NBC, Washington Post).

39. The Task Force Report, Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 13.

40. This problem is discussed in detail in Brahma Chellaney, "Afghanistan Troubles After The Soviets," The Age, Melbourne, January 6, 1988.

41. Walter Laqueur, The Age of Terrorism, Little, Brown, Boston, 1987. Also, Lawrence Freedman, et al., Terrorism and International Order, The Royal Institute for International Affairs and Routledge Kegan Paul, London, 1987.

42. Amir Taheri, Holy Terror, Adler and Adler, Bethesda, 1987.

43. Kellen, op. cit., p. 111.

44. Senator Dennis DeConcini, "When Arms Sales Replace Foreign Policy," The Christian Science Monitor, October 3, 1988, p. 14.

45. United States Department of State, op. cit., p. 28.

46. The Task Force Report, Leventhal and Alexander, op. cit., p. 14.

47. See James Adams, The Financing of Terror, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1987, which discusses the similarity and the nexus between organized crime and terrorism.

48. Hassan, op. cit., p. 54.

49. Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Starred Question No. 264, Rajya Sabha, Statement by Minister of State for Science and Technology K.R. Narayanan, May 12, 1988.

50. Parliamentary records, Rajya Sabha, Discussion on Nuclear Safety, Statement by Minister of State for Science and Technology K.R. Narayanan on behalf of the Prime Minister, May 12, 1988, p. 36-38.

51. Ibid., p. 37.

52. Following the Ojheri ammunition dump blast in April, public concern was expressed in Pakistan over the possible consequences of sabotage or an air or rocket attack on the Kahuta enrichment facility. Former Air Force chief, Asghar Khan, head of the Tehriki-Istiglal, said Kahuta posed a danger to the residents of Ralwalpindi and Islamabad and demanded that it be moved to an area away from dense populations (UNI, June 7, 1988).

53. Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Unstarred Question No. 2024, Rajya Sabha, statement by Minister of State for Science and Technology X.R. Narayanan, May 12, 1988.

54. Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Unstarred Question No. 1422, Lok Sabha, Statement by Minister of State for Science and Technology K.R. Narayanan, March 2, 1988.

55. Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Unstarred Question No. 266, Lok Sabha, Statement by Minister of Science and Technology X.R. Narayanan, February 24, 1988.

56. Nucleonics Week, May 12, 1988, p. 13. Dhruva was commissioned in August 1985 but had to be shut down in five months because of vibration problems that necessitated the redesigning of fuel assemblies. By June 30, 1986, Dhruva had lost 1.43 tons of heavy water, a precious material for India because its paucity has slowed down its atomic expansion program. (Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Union Government, New Delhi, No. 7 of 1988, p. 16.)

57. Steven R. Weisman, The New York Times, May 7, 1988, p. 1, 4.

58. Nuclear Weapons and South Asian Security, op. cit., p. 9.

59. "A New Submarine for Canada," Wings, Calgary, 1988, p. 34, and the Canadian House of Commons, Standing Committee on National Defense, Minutes of Proceedings, No. 28, February 25, 1988, p. 26-28.

60. Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy, Unstarred Question No. 9597, Lok Sabha, Statement by Minister of State for Science and Technology K.R. Narayanan, May 4, 1988.

61. Press Information Bureau, New Delhi. Statement by Minister of State K.R. Narayanan during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, May 4, 1988, p. 2 of uncorrected copy.

62. Mitchell Reiss, Without the Bomb: The Politics of Nuclear Proliferation, Columbia University Press, New York, 1988, suggests that India's policy of restraint may stem from the lack of a coherent nuclear policy "despite the seeming immediacy of the Pakistani nuclear threat." However, important technical and strategic factors may govern the policy. In a conventionally armed South Asia, India would remain the dominant regional power, but the nuclearization of the subcontinent would create two balancing powers in a deterrence model (Joseph S. Nye, Jr. quoted in The Indian Express, New Delhi, "In India's Own Interest," July 4, 1988).

63. Donnelly, op.. cit., p. 1.

64. Nordland, op. cit., p. 45.

65. Good accounts of the Pakistani nuclear smuggling activities are available in Leonard S. Spector, Going Nuclear, Ballinger Publishing Company, Cambridge, Mass., 1987, and Nuclear Weapons and South Asian Security, op. cit.

66. Simon Henderson, "Pakistan Builds Second Plant To Enrich Uranium," The Financial Times, December 11, 1987. Pakistan has denied any such construction, but spy satellites reportedly have indicated that a facility at Golra is being built (Warren H. Donnelly, "Pakistan and Nuclear Weapons," Issue Brief, No. IB6110, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, August 23, 1988).

67. Nucleonics Week, Aug. 18, 1988 and March 10, 1988.

68. Spector, op. cit., p. 121, 122.

69. Paul Leventhal, Testimony to House Foreign Affairs Committee, October 22, 1987.

70. Nuclear Weapons and South Asian Security, op. cit., p. 16. The report estimates the number of centrifuges operating at Kahuta could be from 1,000 to 14,000. Because the Pakistanis have faced difficulties in operating the centrifuges, it bases its figures on what it draws as conservative calculations of 1,000 to 3,000 centrifuges in operation.

71. The Washington Post, November 4, 1986.

72. For details, see Richard P. Cronin, "Pakistan's Nuclear Program: U.S. Foreign Policy considerations," Issue Brief No. IB87227, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, March 1, 1988.

73. This is discussed in Brahma Chellaney, "Proliferation: The Nuclear Family Game," WorldPaper, August 1988, Vol. X, No. S. Also see, William C. Potter, Creating a Database on International Nuclear Commerce, Working Paper No. 59, Center for International and Strategic Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, 1987.

74. It seems possible that such a lower cost could be achieved by the potential second-tier suppliers because of cheaper labor and raw materials. For instance, the cost of India's 470-MWe Narora station (despite its steep upward revision to U.S. $381 million because of construction delays) is estimated to be at least 30 percent less than the cost of a comparable plant built in the West (Chellaney, op. cit., p. 2).

75. Nuclear Control Institute, Nuclear No Man's Land: Low- Level Radioactive Wastes as an Unpoliced Diversion Path for Thefts of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials, Special Report, presented to Bundestag Special Inquiry Committee, Bonn, September 22, 1988.

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