Monday, September 21, 2009
Simulation or simulations?
There is a debate around the nuclear scientist K. Santhanam's declarations whether the Pokhran II nuclear tests were a success or not. Though I am a dummy in this field, I think it is a wrong debate. The only question is: did the Indian scientists get enough information to be able to continue their work in labs in simulation? It seems though difficult to get enough data with one or two tests (successful or not).
Remember the French in Mururoa (and the Rainbow Warrior episode).
The question seems to be: what is the quality of the bomb and its degree of the miniaturization.
The National Security Advisor should read the article of Thomas C. Reed, The Chinese Nuclear Tests 1964-1996 in Physics Today, he will learn a lot about tests.
In September 2007, I wrote in Rediff.com: "In an interview with India Today, Anil Kakodkar, chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, surprisingly said that 'testing' has 'nothing to do with the deal.' His remarks were, however, rather vague: 'The 1998 tests, although the number was five, in terms of configuration and ideas, a very large number of them were tested out. And the most important thing was that everything that was tested worked. That did provide us with a fairly high degree of confidence. So in terms of building deterrence we had said that time itself it was adequate.' Deterrence only! Bharat Karnad, the nuclear expert, is probably closer to the truth: 'The 1998 tests raised some grave doubts about the thermonuclear and 'boosted fission' devices that were exploded. These prototype weapon designs need to be reworked and tested and re-tested in order for them to acquire credibility as operational weapons which can perform reliably and with safety.'
With an 'arsenal quality frozen at a relatively primitive level,' it means India has only two alternatives today: Either to conduct new tests (and the 123 Agreement will be terminated) or do simulations for which very powerful computers are needed. After the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had declared a moratorium on the tests following Pokhran II, it is doubtful if any government can risk the ostracisation of the past. The solution is therefore computer simulation. And it is probable that New Delhi hopes to get access to sophisticated equipment which will allow Indian scientists to proceed with their military research. Has the Manmohan Singh government already signed a deal behind the deal to get the required equipments? It is very possible. And in any case, once the 123 deal is through with the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, computer merchants will be flocking to Delhi to do business."