New Delhi: In the remote plains of southern India, in the village of Challekere, there is a mysterious construction project that is raising eye brows. And there are good reasons why local residents and India’s neighbours are concerned about it. According to intelligence analysts, the Indian government is building a complex for enriching uranium. The highly enriched uranium could be used to make thermonuclear weapons in the near future.
Residents worried about the nuclear program. Locals living around the factory have been a worried lot since the project begun. According to them, the government seized their ancestral land, fenced off of the pastureland and embarked on building the facility without consulting them. And they have no idea what is going on behind the walls.
When the herders discovered the barbed wire fence blocking off part of the land, they contacted Doddaullarti Karianna, a village elder who sits on the village council. Karrianna was baffled by the news and tried to get an explanation from government officials but they were unwilling to answer his questions. In desperation, the villagers turned to an ecological advocacy group for legal assistance. To the lawyers’ dismay, officials warned the lawyers that there was no point in resisting the project. According to the officials, the project was being run from the prime minister’s office in New Delhi.
One year after construction began on the site, it became apparent that the Indian government was behind the program that is set to become the largest military-run complex in the sub-continent. The complex will feature atomic research laboratories, weapons and aircraft testing facilities as well as nuclear centrifuges. All these are aimed at expanding India’s nuclear research, produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors and fuel India’s new submarines.
India refuses to sign the Nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty, Pakistan responds. In response to the nuclear program, Pakistan, a long-time foe of India has vowed to keep up with its neighbor and own a similar programme. Pakistan’s response spark fears of nuclear arms race in the Asian sub-continent which could trigger tensions in the region and threaten the lives of billions of people.
India conducted its first nuclear tests in the Rajasthani desert in 1998. The tests sent shock waves around the world while Pakistan responded by conducting retaliatory tests about 3 weeks later. Both countries faced sanctions due to the tests.
In spite of the sanctions, India’s ambitions for thermonuclear weapons have not changed. While the country has not conducted further tests, it has refused to sign the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Treaty considers countries that tested their nuclear weapons before 1967 as nuclear weapon countries. States that tested their nuclear weapons later are expected to sign the treaty stating that they will not continue to perfect their nuclear weapons programmes.