India needs a Nuclear Emergency Source Team or NEST like the US.
United States created something called the NEST — Nuclear Emergency Search (later: Source) Team — in 1974, after receiving a hoax call of a nuclear threat. It is responsible for the “search and identification of lost or stolen nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials, bomb threats, and radiation dispersal threats.”
“In May 1974, the U.S. government received its first serious nuclear threat,” recalls author Jeffrey T. Richelson. “A letter demanding that $200,00 be left at a particular location arrived at the FBI. Failure to comply, it claimed, would result in the [detonation] of a nuclear bomb somewhere in Boston.”
The history of that organization is unveiled by Richelson in his new book “Defusing Armageddon: Inside NEST, America’s Secret Nuclear Bomb Squad” (W.W. Norton, January 2009).
The uncertain potential for nuclear terrorism in the post-9/11 era, including the possibility of deliberate dispersal of radioactive material in a “dirty bomb,” poses increased challenges to NEST’s capacity to quickly detect and respond to such events.
“But like many forms of insurance or protection that may never be needed or may not protect against all threats, NEST is a capability that, had it not been established in 1974, would have been considered essential to create in 2001,” Richelson concludes.[Secrecy News]
The importance of having a NEST is for many reasons: to defuse the nuclear device, to detect the source of the attack, to craft a suitable national response if the attack happens and most importantly, to act as a deterrent with the heavy retaliation that will ensue on the country providing the nukes to the terrorists.
This is important, Richelson argues, because U.S. officials believe the most likely nuclear attack would involve an established nuclear power providing either a nuclear device or components to a terrorist group. Finding out which nuclear power provided these items to the terrorists would be key in crafting an appropriate U.S. response.
Earlier this month, a congressionally mandated task force reported that terrorists are likely to strike a major city with weapons of mass destruction by 2013. It added: “In our judgment, America’s margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.”
Richelson says U.S. officials want prospective terrorists — and the nuclear scientists who may be tempted to help them — to understand U.S. capabilities. Denying them the certainty that they can attack without consequences, U.S. officials feel, is critical to preventing an attack.[MSNBC]
India is threatened by a nuclear strike not merely from some rogue terrorists but from a neighbouring country itself. That neighbouring country is failing and India has to be prepared beforehand to control the fallouts of a failed nuclear-armed neighbour combined with jehadi terrorism and an anti-India philosophy. India, as per all publicly available information, does not have anything similar to the NEST yet. India does have an agency tasked to do something similar — National Disaster Management Authority. Its website has a link to Nuclear Disasters under Man-made disasters. Not very surprisingly, the link leads to a page which states:
Page Under Construction
It needed a terror attack stretching over 60 hours in Mumbai to start the reform process of the internal security system in this country. It would be a stupid or overconfident terrorist who will use the same methodology again as employed in Mumbai. Spectacular terror strikes from 9-11 to 26-11 have been Black Swan events and an alert nation has to be ahead of the curve in this battle of wits against the terrorists. While it is nice to plug the holes on our coastal security, it is equally important to eliminate other probable methodologies that the terrorists or their masters may surprise India with.
India doesn’t need an Armageddon strike before contemplating the creation of its own NEST. Can we be proactive, rather than being reactive, for a change?