Home > Physics, Science and Technology > Was the Indian H-bomb a damp squib?

Was the Indian H-bomb a damp squib?

Anil Kakodkar, the former chief of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, was yesterday accused of lying by K. Santhanam, a retired scientist of the DRDO. Santhanam had said earlier that India’ s claim to have exploded a thermonuclear device, or H-bomb, in 1998 (Pokhran II) was a false claim (Outlook magazine has an interesting take on this). That was countered by former president Kalam, but Santhanam did not back off from his claim. Older scientists like Homi Sethna and P.K. Iyengar, who had overseen the 1974 Pokhran tests, came out in support of Santhanam.

Now Kakodkar, in an interview with Karan Thapar, says that Santhanam basically did not know what he was talking about. This annoyed Santhanam enough to call the press and tell them what he thought about Kakodkar and other `Bombaywallahs’, meaning the directors of BARC or chairman of DAE.

This story struck me with a feeling of deja vu — the original British H-bomb was a bluff. Indian defence scientists (DRDO) should not take Kakodkar’s (and Kalam’s) claim at face value, but should check all the data very carefully. It is one thing to not have nuclear weapons at all, like many signatories to the NPT. But to have nuclear weapons which do not work is much worse, it gives a false sense of confidence.

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