Two of the crown jewels of the Indian nuclear program and a number of other sites that possibly house Indian nuclear material are a stone throw’s away from Mumbai, where ten young men infiltrated the city, patrolled its streets, killed India’s top antiterrorism official, and faced off hundreds of India’s elite soldiers for 60 hours. The question is: How safe are India’s n-assets?
If one is to believe the Indian claim that ten young militants engaged more than 3000 of India’s top commandoes, intelligence and police officials for 60 hours and killed 200 people in Mumbai city, then we must seriously be worried about the safety of India’s nuclear arsenal, radioactive material, and nuclear power plants.
Two prominent experts on Pakistan and India today expressed their fear that if ten militants in their early twenties can hold a city of 15 million people, which houses a number of sensitive nuclear and radio-active plants, then how safe are India’s nukes.
Speaking to TVOneNews program, ‘Siyasat aur Pakistan’, strategic experts Zaid Hamid and Ahmed Quraishi also warned that Hindu hawks may try to grab India’s nukes.
According to reports, two of India’s most important nuclear installations are located near Mumbai. Tarapur’s two 160 MW nuclear plants are already functioning near Trombay while two more 500 MW PHWRs power plants are under construction near Mumbay itself. These two plants are designed to work as fuel fabrication facilities and are not safeguarded under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nor effectively protected.
India’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and a number of other nuclear plants and uranium conversion facilities (UF6) are also not part of IAEA safeguards.
A fuel fabrication facility is also not far from the city and is considered unsafe by most accounts.
What surprised India experts is the fact that militants reportedly entered the city on boats crossing the eyes of the Indian navy and marines and carried not only heavy arms but also tens of kilograms of military- standard RDX explosives.
According to an article published Monday in the Washington Post, “In just minutes, Mumbai was under seige” by young gunmen.
After landing, the gunmen fanned out across the city, most likely in groups of two or three. Within half an hour, they had hit about five sites: the city’s main rail station, a Jewish center at the Nariman House, the Leopold Cafe, and the Oberoi and Taj hotels.
Washington Post quoted a photographer for the Mumbai Mirror newspaper, Sebastian D’Souza, as saying that, “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station, but none of them did anything,” D’Souza told reporters afterward. “At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them! They’re sitting ducks,’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”