ibnlive » India

Sep 12, 2007 at 01:20am IST

After Pokhran, Sagarika N-powers India

New Delhi: It looks like India's biggest nuclear weapons breakthrough after the 1998 Pokhran detonations. India has recently completed a series of test-firings of Sagarika-class ballistic missiles from underwater pontoons in the Bay of Bengal.

At least three of these have been successful, simulating nuclear firings over ranges between 350 and 750 km.

The upshot is that India is now close to acquiring a capability to launch nuclear weapons from submarines, sailing anywhere in international waters.

So, what's so special about a launch capability from a submarine? This will give stealth and survivability to India's nuclear weapons, which is critical for an assured capability to retaliate, should India be attacked with nuclear weapons.

If this technology is validated by defence scientists, this could be the missing third leg of India's nuclear triad.

Of all the legs of the nuclear triad - the others being air and land-based weapons delivery systems - the undersea platform is the best guarantee of survivability against a pre-emptive attack on India's nuclear weapons.

There are virtually invisible, so invulnerable,” says strategic analyst Bharat Karnad.

India's nuclear-powered submarine in the making - the ATV- which is due to begin sea trials in 2009, is intended to be armed with the Sagarika series of ballistic and cruise missiles.

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