Nuclear crisis with China cannot be ruled out: Bharat Karnad

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Mumbai, Nov 18 (UNI) A nuclear confrontation between India and China cannot be ruled out resulting from the clash of interests and competition for global natural resources, predicts author and former National Security Advisory Board member Bharat Karnad.

Speaking on the contents of his newly launched book, 'India's Nuclear Policy' here yesterday, Mr Karnad said the country's military think tanks need to shift their focus away from Pakistan towards China.

''With a GDP which is one-fourth the capitalization of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Pakistan will never be a real threat, whereas a fight for natural resources was already ensuing all over the world between India and China,'' he observed.

He said China had already taken steps to strenghten its military and economic position against India. Its diversion of the Yarlung-Tsango River, which enters India as the Bhramaputra, in Tibet could deny eastern states like Assam and West Bengal and countries like Bangladesh the much-needed access to fresh water.

Other than that, its 'incessant' and 'consistent' support to insurgent groups in the North East, are reasons enough for India to take a hawkish stand.

He said India must have the political will to support the new generation of Tibetans, who may not follow the pacifist path preached by their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

''The existence of Tibet as a buffer is important for India. It was only after China invaded Tibet that frictions arose between the two countries,'' he noted.

Criticising the political establishment, he said it was the weakest link in the country's strategic system.

''I doubt, if India suffers a first strike, it will have the political will to order a retaliatory strike. Unless we treat the nuclear issue with a sense of realism, they will end up as show pieces and mere symbols of power. We must understand the paradox of being prepared to use nuclear weapons as a means to ensure that they are not actually used. This was the strategy followed during the Cold War.'' Highlighting the need for manned nuclear bombers, he said with the induction of the indegenious ship submersible ballistic nuclear (SSBN) missile, 5,000-km Agni IRBM (Intermediate-Range Ballistic missile) and leased T-160 'Blackjack' bombers from Russia -- a system providing strategic umbrella should be operationalized by 2012.

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