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ASAT test at par with 1998 Pokhran test: VK Saraswat – Times of India

Former DRDO chief VK Saraswat and now a member of government think tank NITI Aayog is elated about the successful demonstration of the ASAT technology.

In an interview to TOI, he says the success of the programme has added to the country’s strategic capability and ranked it equal to the 1998 Pokhran nuclear test. Excerpts:

What delayed the programme in 2012-13?

If we had got a response then this programme would have been completed in 2014-15. This programme could not be completed then because we did not get permission and resources. Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the decision and encouraged the scientists in DRDO to make this programme successful.

What was the reason for the delay?

We told the government at that time that we have the capability to demonstrate this, please give your concurrence. The government neither said yes nor said no but never gave any positive response. No reasons were assigned.

Would we have been better if this technology was demonstrated seven years ago?

It’s a question of demonstrating your capability. Whenever you demonstrate the capability it has its advantage. The advantage today is that we have demonstrated to the world that India has got power to intercept a satellite in space so you please don’t mess up with my space objects. Neither your friend nor your enemy will mess up with space objects. It is like our statement that we will use nuclear power only for peaceful purposes. We believe in the theory of deterrence.

What is the kind of response that you expect from China since there is fear of an arms race?

There is no arms race. Anti-satellite activity is a deterrence capability and deterrence capabilities do not lead to any arms race. People have realised that nuclear war is not good for the world but nuclear warfare is only good as a deterrence. We have demonstrated an asset capability, it doesn’t mean that we are going to go on making 2,000 asset missiles because they are 2,000 satellites.

What does this mean for an organisation like DRDO?

For DRDO, it’s a technological gain, a huge technological gain that has taken place because this is going to really make a major difference as far as the technology is concerned for intercepting long range ballistic missiles and having better accuracy for tactical missiles.

What is the next level of technological advancement from here?

As far as the fallout of this is in terms of – because we have developed a very nice kinetic vehicle today—this can be used for intercepting the longer range missiles like IRBMs (intermediate-range ballistic missiles) and ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles). So, I presume, phase 2 of the programme will make use of this kind of kinetic vehicle for engaging long range ballistic missiles.

In terms of a strategic capability how would you rate this?

It is equal to the Pokhran test of 1998 because the will of the nation is what is most important. At that time Atal Behari Vajpayee showed that will and that’s why such a thing happened. Everyone knew the ramifications. The ramification of that class is not there this time and we don’t have to worry about that part. As far as technology is concerned as far as the nation’s stature is concerned we have gone up by an inch.

One criticism is that India is now polluting the space by creating debris. What is your view?

This criticism is always there whenever a satellite is launched. More than a million fragments are floating around today in space and that’s why the issue of cleaning the space has started. As far we are concerned we have finished one small satellite.

Our interceptor which has gone and all the debri that has come because of the interceptor will fall back into the atmosphere within no time. In less than a week all this debri burn off and nothing will remain. We are signatory to the treaty for cleaning the space and we abide by it and we will continue to do it.

ASAT test at par with 1998 Pokhran test: VK Saraswat – Times of India

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