Category Archives: Reports

North Korea’s Hwasong 15 ICBM – A Threat to the US Mainland

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani. North Korea’s Hwasong 15 ICBM – A Threat to the US Mainland, ISSSP Report No. 01-2018. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, January 2018, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/The-Hwasong-15-–-A-Threat-to-the-US-Mainland.pdf. 

With a nuclear warhead weighing between 500 to 600 Kg North Korea’s Hwasong 15 ICBM can reach a large part of the US west coast and several cities in the central part of the USA. it may not however be able to reach Chicago, New York or Washington DC. If the mass of the warhead reduces to 400 Kg both Chicago and New York come within the range of Hwasong 15. Further reductions in warhead mass to 300 Kg will bring the whole of the US mainland within range.

Demonstrated North Korean nuclear weapon and missile capabilities suggest that it can currently target significant parts of the continental USA. With some more testing, which seems imminent, these capabilities are bound to grow.

These developments are likely to have far reaching effects both in the Asia Pacific region as well as across the globe. Accepting the reality of a nuclearized Korean peninsula and moving forward to a more stable deterrence posture appears to be the logical course to pursue.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra@gmail.com

Rajaram Nagappa is a Programme Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at r.nagappa@gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani@gmail.com


 

Spaceplanes, Hypersonic Platforms and the Missile Technology Control Regime

Author: Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha

To read the complete report click here

To cite: Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha. Spaceplanes, Hypersonic Platforms and the Missile Technology Control Regime, ISSSP Report No. 08-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2017, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ISSSP-Report.pdf

In Space launch systems, there is — besides the well-known manned Space Shuttle of the United States – the ongoing development in the US, as also in India, of reusable unmanned space vehicles.  The orbital-delivery components of these vehicles are designed to re-enter the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds, and to survive that re-entry, intact, for refurbishment and re-use. The technologies that enable such survival can be utilised for the development of hypersonic boost-glide platforms for ordnance-delivery. Such enabling technologies are characterised as being ‘dual-usable’.

Besides the United States, Russia and China, other nations possessing the applicable enabling technologies are also experimenting with, or evaluating, hypersonic boost-glide platforms for precision-delivery of military ordnance – conventional or potentially nuclear. 

India and other co-members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), adopt a common approach to controlling the export from their territories of specified classes of missiles, and of missile-usable systems and technologies, so as to slow or stymie the development of missiles and Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) by those countries which have to import critical technologies for the development of their own missiles or UAVs.  

India shares missile non-proliferation objectives and responsibilities with other members of the MTCR. It is in India’s foreign policy and geo-strategic interests to propose extension of MTCR to control over international trade in re-usable Space launch systems and their enabling dual-usable technologies.  Specifically, India may propose to co-members inclusion of new entries in the MTCR Annex as detailed in the concluding section.


About the Authors

Venkatasubbiah Siddhartha is Adjunct Faculty, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru. For correspondence please contact E-mail: scatopsa@gmail.com


David versus Goliath – US irrationality and nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani. David versus Goliath – US irrationality and nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula, ISSSP Report No. 07-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, September 2017, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/David-versus-Goliath_US-irrationality-and-nuclear-war-in-the-Korean-Peninsula.pdf

The available evidence from all the nuclear weapon and missile tests conducted by North Korea between May and September this year suggest that Kim Jong Un is no irrational madman who will resort to nuclear war for some idiosyncratic or stupid reason. Rather, each test is part of a carefully calibrated set of signals that together establish that North Korea has in place an assured retaliatory capability directed at the US and its allies in the Asia Pacific region. Accepting this reality may provide a more viable approach for realizing stability in the Korean peninsula than resorting to the shrill and often ludicrous war of words that is currently going on.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra@gmail.com

Rajaram Nagappa is a Programme Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at r.nagappa@gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani@gmail.com


The Hwasong 12 – A MIRV Missile to Counter US BMD Systems

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani. Can North Korean Missiles Reach the US Mainland? ISSSP Report No. 06-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, August 2017, available at isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/The-Hwasong-12%E2%80%93-A-MIRV-Missile-to-Counter-US-BMD-Systems.pdf

Through its Hwasong 12 launch of August 28 2017 North Korea is sending out a clear signal to the US and its allies in the Asia Pacific region that it is able to add an MIRV capability to its nuclear arsenal. This would effectively counter any BMD system that its adversaries may have deployed.

 

 

To read the complete report click here

 


About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra@gmail.com

Rajaram Nagappa is a Programme Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at r.nagappa@gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani@gmail.com


Can North Korean Missiles Reach the US Mainland?

Can North Korean Missiles Reach the US Mainland?

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani. Can North Korean Missiles Reach the US Mainland? ISSSP Report No. 05-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, August 2017, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Can-North-Korea-Missiles-Reach-the-US.pdf.


Using publicly available information on the launch of North Korea’s Hwasong 14 ICBM we demonstrate that North Korea’s ability to threaten the US mainland with a nuclear weapon is critically dependent on the mass of the warhead. In order to reach all or most of the US, North Korea needs to build a nuclear warhead with a mass of 150 to 250 Kg. Though North Korea has conducted five nuclear weapon tests, including a possible boosted fission test in 2016, it may still not be able to field a nuclear warhead of this mass. One can therefore expect that it will continue to conduct both nuclear weapon and long range missile tests as it strives to signal to the world that it is indeed capable of reaching the US mainland with a nuclear weapon.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra@gmail.com

Rajaram Nagappa is a Programme Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at r.nagappa@gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani@gmail.com


North Korea’s Hwasong 12 Missile Test

North Korea’s Hwasong 12 Missile Test

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa and N.Ramani. North Korea’s Hwasong 12 Missile Test. ISSSP Report No. 04-2017. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, June 2017, available at http://isssp.in/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/North-Korea’s-Hwasong-12-Missile-Test.pdf


The available evidence from North Korea’s May 14 2017 launch of the Hwasong 12 missile suggests that it is a two stage missile.

Measurements on the images of the missile are also consistent with an Unha 3 space launcher origin for the Hwasong 12. If this were so it would have a diameter of 2.4 m and use Kerosene and AK 27 as fuel and oxidizer.

A single stage Unha 3 derived Hwasong 12 can also be ruled out based on a performance appraisal of North Korea’s current missile and space capabilities. The two stages appear to have about the same length. The first stage would be very similar to the Unha 3 booster with a propellant fraction of 84%.

The second stage would also use the same engine as the Unha 3 booster but would be a more optimized stage with a propellant fraction of around 87%.

These stages are consistent with what North Korea has already demonstrated through its space and missile launchings.

Though North Korea has so far not tested a thermonuclear device, the length of the Reentry Vehicle (RV) of 5.25 m suggests that it is intended to carry a thermonuclear warhead.

The predicted range of the Hwasong 12 missile with a warhead weighing 650 Kg launched due east with an azimuth of 90 degrees will be 4385 Km. This should allow North Korea to comfortably target Guam even with a heavier warhead.

With a suitable third stage the Hwasong 12 can be converted into an ICBM that can reach the US mainland. One can expect the test of such a configuration in the near future.

Taken together the successful launch of the Hwasong 12 along with the nuclear weapons testing that North Korea is carrying out indicates that North Korea is well on its way towards developing a nuclear tipped ICBM that can reach the continental United States.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra@gmail.com

Rajaram Nagappa is a Programme Head, International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at r.nagappa@gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani@gmail.com


China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: May 2016 Update

China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: May 2016 Update

Authors: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar and Soma Perumal. China’s Constellation of Yaogan Satellites & the ASBM: May 2016 Update. ISSSP Report No. 03-2016. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, May 2016, available at http://isssp.in/chinas-constellation-of-yaogan-satellites-the-asbm-may-2016-update/


Yaogan May 2016With the launch of the Yaogan 28, Yaogan 29 in November 2015 and Yaogan 30 satellite in May 2016, China has demonstrated its ability to routinely identify, locate and track an Aircraft Carrier Group (ACG) on the high seas. This space capability is an important component of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) System that China has set up. The current operational satellite constellation consists of ELINT satellites, satellites carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors as well as satellites carrying optical imaging sensors.

Based on the orbit characteristics, their local time of equatorial crossing and other related parameters, these satellites can be grouped into different categories that perform the various functions for identifying, locating and tracking the ACG.

Yaogan 9 (Yaogan 9A, 9B, 9C), Yaogan 16 (16A, 16B, 16C), Yaogan 17 (17A, 17B, 17C), Yaogan 20 (20A, 20B, 20C) and Yaogan25 (25A, 25B, 25C) are the five triplet cluster equipped with ELINT sensors that provide broad area surveillance over the Oceans. With a coverage radius of about 3500 Km, they provide the first coarse fix for identifying and locating an ACG in the Pacific Ocean. Yaogan 20 and Yaogan 25 may be replacements for the Yaogan 9 and the Yaogan 16 that may be nearing the end of their lives.

Yaogan 23, Yaogan 29, Yaogan 10, and Yaogan 18 are the satellites carrying a SAR sensor. With Local times of crossing of 02 00, 04 30, 06 00, and 10 00 hours they provide all weather as well as day and night imaging capabilities over the regions of interest.

Yaogan 30, Yaogan 26, Yaogan 4, Yaogan 24, Yaogan 28, Yaogan 7 and Yaogan 21 constitute the high resolution optical satellites in the current constellation. The sensors they carry may have resolutions of between 1 to 3 m. Their local times of crossing of 09 00, 10 30, 11 00, 13 30, 14 00, 15 00 and 17 30 hours respectively ensure favourable illumination conditions for their imaging missions.

Yaogan 27, Yaogan 19, Yaogan 22 and Yaogan 15 satellites with local times of crossing of 09 30, 10 30, 13 30 and 14 30 hours respectively are optical imaging satellites with medium resolution (3 to 10 m) capabilities. They act as a broad area coverage complement for the SAR as well as the high resolution optical imaging satellites. Yaogan 27 is a replacement for the Yaogan 8 that may be nearing the end of its life.

Using typical sensor geometries and the two line orbital elements available from public sources the ability of the current constellation to identify, locate and track the ACG was simulated.

Assuming that any three of the ELINT clusters are operational at any given point in time the ELINT satellites typically make 18 contacts in a day with the moving target. The maximum period for which the target remains outside the reach of the ELINT satellites is about 90 minutes in a day. The SAR and the optical imaging satellites together typically provide 24 satellite passes over the target. About 16 targeting opportunities, during which the uncertainty in the target’s location is less than 10 km, are available in a day.

The analysis and the simulation results suggest that China has in place an operational ASBM system that can identify, locate, track and destroy an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific Ocean. This seems to be an important component of a larger Chinese Access and Area Denial Strategy focused around a conflict over Taiwan.

To read the complete report click here

About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra[at]gmail.com

Soma Perumal is Adjunct Faculty in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at som598[at]yahoo.com


 

Analysis of North Korea’s February 2016 Successful Space Launch

Analysis of North Korea’s February 2016 Successful Space Launch

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Arun Vishwanathan

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, N. Ramani, Arun Vishwanathan. Analysis of North Korea’s February 2016 Successful Space Launch. ISSSP Report No. 02-2016. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, April 2016, available at http://isssp.in/analysis-of-north-koreas-february-2016-successful-space-launch/


DPRK Feb 2016 Unha3The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) or North Korea succeeded in placing a 100 kg Earth Observation (EO) satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into a Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) on February 7, 2016. As it had done in earlier launches, the DPRK used its Unha-3 launch vehicle for the latest mission. The launch was conducted from the Sohae Space Center in Ch’o’lsan County, North Pyongyang Province.

North Korea has so far conducted six space launches. The last two launches conducted in December 2012 and the recent February 2016 launch have been successful in placing small remote sensing satellites into “more difficult to reach” sun synchronous orbits.

Based on available information put out by various agencies including official North Korean sources this report attempts to reconstruct the trajectory of the February 2016 launch. Using this reconstruction of the trajectory it goes on to make inferences about the technical parameters of the launcher. It builds upon and complements an earlier study carried out by the ISSSP on North Korea’s successful launch of 2012 to provide an update on North Korea’s launch and space capabilities.

On February 2, 2016, the North Koreans had released information about an impending space launch to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The statement indicated a launch window stretching from February 8 to February 25, 2016. It also provided the area coordinates or impact zones for the spent stages and the shroud. On February 6, 2016, the DPRK narrowed down the launch window to February 7-14. The launch took place on February 7, 2016, the first day of the revised launch window.

Analysis of the Unha-3 Launch using NIAS Quo Vadis Trajectory Software

The analysis was carried out using the Quo Vadis trajectory software developed at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. Using an iterative trial and error process involving changes in the various launch vehicle parameters very similar to those used in our analysis of the 2012 launch we attempted to arrive at a trajectory in which the impact points of the first stage, second stage and shroud are closely matched with the nominal impact points put out by North Korea. Along with this we also introduced needed maneuvers to the first, second and third stages for realizing an orbit that matched well with the NORAD orbital data. 

With two successful satellite launches, North Korea has indicated its capability to indigenously design, develop, test and integrate advanced technologies like a new engine for its launch vehicle. More importantly, the two launches have highlighted the North Korean capability to bring together the hard technologies with the softer parts of the launch like mission planning and management.

For placing the satellite into a sun synchronous orbit, North Korea has to carry out maneuvers after liftoff, pitch down the second stage after the first stage separation and also carry out a yaw maneuver of the third stage before injection of the satellite into orbit.

Successful mastery of these difficult technologies and a complex mission indicates the progress in rocket and missile technology that the North Koreans have achieved since their first failed launch in April 2012. The launch trajectory and the initial orbits of the February 2016 launch of the Unha-3 as computed by the Quo Vadis software is depicted in Figure below.

unha3 feb 2016 launch trajectory

Unha-3 February 2016 Launch Trajectory

Click here to download the KMZ file for the Unha-3 Trajectory

Unha-3 as a long-range Ballistic Missile

North Korea conducted four nuclear tests with the latest test in January 2016. In addition it has successfully put a satellite into orbit twice – in December 2012 and February 2016. With these capabilities, North Korea is moving towards the capability to miniaturize its nuclear warhead and delivering them on long range missiles.

Though the Unha-3 is primarily designed for a space mission, it can be modified into a long range ballistic missile. Trajectory analysis using the NIAS trajectory modelling software – Quo Vadis – shows that a due North East launch (25o azimuth) of the Unha from a suitable location with a 1000kg payload (sufficient to carry a nuclear warhead) can reach all of Alaska and some parts of northern Canada. As indicated in an earlier ISSSP, NIAS report, if North Korea manages to reduce the payload mass to 800kg it will be able to successfully deliver a nuclear warhead on parts of western coast of the continental United States including the states of Washington, Oregon and northern parts of California.

Figure below provides a visual representation of the range of the Unha 3 launcher if it is deployed as a long range missile.

Unha-3 as a BM

Unha-3 as a Long Range Ballistic Missile


About the Authors

S. Chandrashekar is JRD Tata Chair Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at chandrashekar.schandra[at]gmail.com

N. Ramani is Visiting Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at narayan.ramani[at]gmail.com

Arun Vishwanathan is Assistant Professor in the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, NIAS, Bangalore. He can be reached at arun_summerhll[at]yahoo.com


 

Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India

Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India

Author: S. Chandrashekar

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar.  Space, War and Security – A Strategy for India. NIAS Report No. 36-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015.


Q&A with the author, Prof. S. Chandrashekar about the Report

Chandra Space ReportIn your paper you talk about the connections between space assets, nuclear weapons and conventional war. Can you tell us a bit more on how these are connected?

Ever since Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear weapons and conventional war have always been connected. The dawn of the space age through the launch of Sputnik was made possible because of the development of ICBMs. Of course missiles became the preferred delivery system for both nuclear and conventional weapons. Satellites because of their vantage point in space cover large areas on the ground. Military interests for both offence and defence have always wanted to control the high ground. Space is no exception to this desire. Space assets have always played a major role in the war strategies of major space powers.

If this were so space would have always been a contested ground. However international concerns about the weaponization of space seem to have more recent origins. What has changed in the world space order for these renewed emerging concerns?

The Cold war Period of the space age saw the emergence of what can be called the sanctuary regime in space where the desire to preserve stability and the peace limited the military uses of space to what we currently call the ISR functions where information provided by satellites maintained the peace. This also saw an international space order dominated by the USA and the USSR – who established this sanctuary regime – associated with what is even today described as the peaceful uses of outer space.

Reagan’s Star Wars initiative led to a change and conferred greater legitimacy to space weapons – that moved from testing to keeping technology options open – towards possible deployment.

The breakup of the Soviet Union and the first Gulf War which saw large scale use of space assets for both defensive and offensive weapons linked space assets more directly with war. The rise of China and its desire to counter the dominant US position in space has resulted in a number of Chinese led assymetric responses that more directly link space assets with the risks of escalating conventional war to a nuclear war. Through such approaches China hopes to deter US intervention into areas that China perceives as being vital to its national interests such as Taiwan.

This emerging China US dynamic makes the connections between space nuclear weapons and conventional war more direct and immediate. These are the changes that India needs to take into account in formulating a suitable space strategy.

What do you see as the most immediate concern for India as far as these developments are concerned?

Evidence suggests that India did not have any independent way of knowing about the Chinese ASAT test. India’s knowledge about the Yaogan military constellation especially the Chinese ELINT capability does not seem to be based on independent information and knowledge. This gap in Space Situational Awareness is not consistent with Indian aspirations as a potential key player in the current world order. India needs to bridge this gap in space capabilities as quickly as possible.

What should India do in order to improve awareness of what is happening in space?

For civilian space applications countries need to track and monitor the health of satellites. Most active satellites transmit radio signals that can be received on the ground and these can be used to fix the position of the satellite and determine its orbit. However once satellites reach their end of life they may not be able to transmit radio signals on a continuing basis. There are also spent rocket stages and a number of objects put into orbit during the commissioning of a satellite. Military testing of ASAT weapons, other experiments done in the past where particles have been released into space as well as fragments from the explosion of spent rocket stages all create debris. More recently two satellites have collided with each other creating a debris cloud. Indian facilities for tracking transmitting satellites may be adequate. However to track inactive satellites and space debris India needs long range radars, optical and laser tracking facilities located suitably so as to be able to track these objects. These are the facilities that India needs to set up.

Once these are available India would be in a position to monitor the happenings in space. By making sure it knows where the inactive satellites and larger debris objects are located, it can provide routine data to all satellite users including Indian operators on risks associated with possible collisions. It can also monitor the space activities of the major space powers especially on the military aspects of the use of space such as ASAT testing, launchings related to C4ISR functions for the military as well as other satellites used for various civilian and military functions.

To read the complete report click here

Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures

Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Lalitha Sundaresan, Bhupendra Jassani

To read the complete report click here

To cite: S. Chandrashekar, Lalitha Sundaresan, Bhupendra Jassani. Estimating Uranium Mill Capacity Using Satellite Pictures. NIAS Report No. 35-2015. Bangalore: International Strategic and Security Studies Programme, National Institute of Advanced Studies, December 2015, available at http://isssp.in/estimating-uranium-mill-capacity-using-satellite-pictures/


Estimation of Uranium Mill SitesThe International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gathers and analyses safeguards relevant information about a State from:

  • a. information provided by the State party to the safeguards agreement;
  • b. safeguards activities conducted by the Agency on the ground;
  • c. open sources and third parties.

The IAEA’s analyses consists of validation of information provided by the States against information collected by the Agency under (b) and (c) including that obtained from commercial satellite imagery. Information may differ depending on whether it is acquired under a comprehensive safeguards agreement (CSA), CSA and under the Additional Protocol Agreement (APA) or that obtained on a voluntary basis.

Under the Additional Protocol Agreement, signatory states are required to provide IAEA inspectors information on all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle that include uranium mines, processing facilities, fuel fabrication & enrichment plants, nuclear waste sites as well as any other location where nuclear materials may be present. The IAEA Verification measures include on-site inspections, visits, and as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

This has vastly increased the amount and type of information that States will have to provide to the IAEA. At the same time, the burden of verification has also vastly multiplied as far as the IAEA inspectors are concerned. The IAEA is therefore likely to find itself in a situation where physical verification of the declared nuclear facilities will become increasingly difficult.

Monitoring and evaluating undeclared facilities especially those related to the early parts of the nuclear fuel cycle such as uranium mining and milling also become a very important component of the verification activities. Development of newer methods and technologies that can strengthen verification protocols would therefore be very useful.

Though several studies have addressed the usefulness of satellite images for monitoring various parts of the nuclear fuel cycle4 not much work has been carried out to assess their utility for monitoring Uranium mining and milling operations.

While India is a declared nuclear weapon state the activities of her neighbours in the nuclear realm are shrouded in secrecy. This situation is often made more complicated by a lot of ambiguous information pouring in from a number of sources especially from the west. It is therefore difficult for a strategic analyst or policy researcher to make a meaningful assessment of the uranium production capacity of a country since there is very little reliable data.

Image processing specialists within the country have also not made any efforts to develop suitable algorithms that describe in detail how satellite images can be used to identify Uranium mines and mills. From a practical viewpoint there are at least two aspects of a mill operation that require attention from image analysts.

The first aspect is of course to clearly identify a mill site as a uranium mill site Several studies in the West have demonstrated that satellite images can be used to identify uranium mill sites at least to a limited extent. Building on this work, a more recent study used features associated with the various processes used for the extraction of Uranium that are visible in a satellite image for the identification of a Uranium Mill and this has been dealt exhaustively in an earlier NIAS report.

Once a mill has been identified as a Uranium Mill, it is also important to see whether methods can be developed to estimate the production capacity of such a mill. This report focuses on methods that can be used to estimate the production capacity of a Uranium mill after the mill has been identified as a Uranium producing mill. 

To read the complete report click here
Conducting Academic and Policy Research related to National and International Security Issues
Sign up for Updates

Enter your email below



We will not share your email