North Korea’s Successful Space Launch

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

North Korea Space LaunchOn December 12, 2012, North Korea surprised the world by successfully placing a remote sensing satellite in a sun synchronous orbit using an indigenously developed launcher called the Unha. Using publicly available information and images of the Unha launcher as well as the specific information on the first stage put out by South Korea after recovering and analyzing the debris from the first stage, the International Strategic & Security Studies Programme (ISSSP) at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) attempted to reconstruct the trajectory of the successful launch.

For the December 12 2012 launch of the Unha, a lot of information was publicly available or reasonable estimates could be made from images of the launcher. This enabled us to reconstruct the trajectory flown by the Unha launcher with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Through an iterative process we were able to obtain a trajectory that matches well with the midpoints of the notified impact zones as well as the achieved orbit.

The analysis suggests that North Korea is somewhat more advanced than either Iran or Pakistan in space and missile technologies and products. This assessment, more than the actual performance of the Unha launcher as a missile, must be a source of considerable concern to North Korea’s immediate neighbours as well as the United States.

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Dominating the World: China and the Rare Earth Industry

Authors: Nabeel Mancheri, Lalitha Sundaresan and S. Chandrashekar

china and RE cover page SmallThe available evidence suggests that China’s current domination of the global Rare Earths (RE) Industrial Ecosystem is the result of a well-thought out carefully crafted dynamic long term strategy. China has cleverly used the dynamics of the transition of the RE industry from the growth into the maturity phase of the lifecycle to build a dominant presence in most value chains of the RE ecosystem. China controls not only the raw materials but also the production of key intermediates that go into many hi-tech growth industries.

Through the tracing of the evolution of the RE industry in China the study also sheds light on how strategy is formulated and implemented in China. The other thing that emerges clearly from our study on RE in China is that strategy implementation is closely linked to strategy formulation. China seems to have in place methods and processes to ensure that the various arms of the government associated with the implementation of strategy, function in an integrated way to ensure that Chinese interests are well protected.

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Does India Need A National Strategy for Rare Earths?

Author: S. Chandrashekar

cover Nat Strategy for REAt the global level the Rare Earth (RE) industry is in the mature phase. Growth of existing products that use RE will be mainly in large emerging economies like India and China. Through a policy of active intervention China has built up an extremely strong position in the global RE industry. India has no major presence except maybe in the raw material part of the global RE industry. Even here Indian capabilities have withered away due to China’s dominance of the industry and Indian inaction.

Though India has in place the institutions and infrastructure it is unable to link grand, national strategy to the more prosaic micro level industry and product development strategies that are the key to any national endeavour. For a national level strategy to be successful India needs to understand in much greater detail the technology – product – market links in the various key industries likely to be affected by RE shortages.

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Pakistan’s HATF-IX/NASR: Implications for Indo-Pak Deterrence

Authors: Rajaram Nagappa, Arun Vishwanathan and Aditi Malhotra

NASR ImageNASR Image Pakistan has carried out three tests of the NASR/HATF-IX missile. Islamabad claims that NASR is nuclear capable. The report carries out a technical analysis and sizing of the missile to see whether a nuclear warhead can fit into it. Pakistan is using NASR to signal a lowering of its nuclear threshold to counter any conventional military operation by India. This is likely to pose challenges for robustness of nuclear deterrence between Pakistan and India.

An important question that holds some importance for nuclear stability in the Indian sub-continent is whether NASR is leading Pakistan into a ‘commitment trap.’ The study shows that a weapon system like NASR has more disadvantages than advantages from all considerations ranging from damage potential to impact on deterrence stability.

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Chinese MIRVed ICBM DF-41

Author: S. Chandrashekar

df 41 cover imageOn 24 July 2012 China is reported to have tested its DF-41 long range ICBM. Some images of this missile, presumably taken by Chinese bystanders with cell phone cameras were put out on the Internet. On balance it would appear that though the parameters of the presumed DF-41 are consistent with a long range MIRV ICBM the number of MIRV that could be carried on the DF-41 may be not more than three.

The information and the images put out also seem to suggest that the Chinese want the world to know what they possess. The data provided is such that with some knowledge, Chinese capabilities can be inferred. These conclusions may be very similar for different groups looking at this issue across the world. In spite of this there is still sufficient ambiguity in the information being put out by them that precludes a complete assessment of the true capabilities of their newer missiles. This deliberate ambiguity seems to be a part of their grand strategy.

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Pakistan’s Ghauri November 2012 Missile Test

Author: Rajaram Nagappa

Ghauri Pak missile cover imagePakistan launched a Ghauri missile on 28 November 2012. Though the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) claimed the test was a success, Pakistani media reports indicate that large fragments of the missile fell in and around the village of Dadu in Sind Province.

This ISSSP report concludes that the overall Ghauri flight mission of 28 November 2012 should be treated as failure contrary to the claims made by the Inter Services Public Relations. This failure also opens up questions of reliability of the missile as 3 failures have been recorded out of ten flights.

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The Chinese Media Scene: A Politico-Strategic Take on the State of Play

Author: Ambassador Saurabh Kumar (Retd.)

Chinese media-skumarThis NIAS Working Paper is a subjective account of the changing media scene in China, and its impact on the polity, is based on a survey of openly available literature on the subject (in particular, the excellent collection of overview articles by Western and Chinese scholars in the book “Changing Media, Changing China”, Ed..Susan L. Shirk, OUP, 2011) and a monitoring of (English language versions of) Chinese media websites and some official Chinese documents available on the Internet.

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North Korea’s Unha 3 Space Launch

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

unha3The report tracks the North Korean launch efforts and is based on the assumption that if the North Koreans had been successful what kind of capability would they have created. Using images of the Unha 2 and Unha 3 launchers available in the public domain we were able to make measurements on the different components of the missile. Using the diameter and lengths obtained from these we were able to translate them into propellant and structural masses.

Using other publicly available information on North Korea’s missile and space programmes and some expert knowledge available with rocket engineers and designers we could derive the necessary launch vehicle parameters for running a trajectory model developed at NIAS.

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Patterns in Terror Attacks in Urban and Semi-Urban India – An Empirical Investigation

Authors: Lalitha Sundaresan, G. Vijayalakshmi, S. Chandrashekar 

terror attacksThe report focuses on mapping the pattern if various terror attacks that have taken place in urban and semi-urban India. A preliminary analysis shows that in some of the incidents the bombs were placed randomly showing a lack of sophistication. In some cases the bombs were clustered while in some cases some amount of regularity is observed.

This kind of analysis if carried out with complete data will help to classify the perpetrator groups in terms of their organization capabilities and level of sophistication in carrying out such attacks.

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China’s  Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile: Game Changer in the Pacific Ocean

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, R.N. Ganesh, C.R. Raghunath, Rajaram Nagappa, N. Ramani and Lalitha Sundaresan

China ASBM DF21-D Acess DenialChina’s spectacular economic growth in the last decade has been accompanied by its impressive performance in the areas of space, missiles and warship building. Among the more remarkable of these has been its development of an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM).

This study was undertaken by a group at NIAS to make an analytical assessment of China’s capability to design and develop an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile directed against an Aircraft Carrier Strike Group (CSG), and also the Chinese ability to create the technical infrastructure required to transform this missile into an operational weapon system.

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Technology & Innovation in China: A Case Study of Single Crystal Superalloy Development for Aircraft Turbine Blades

Authors: S. Chandrashekar, Rajaram Nagappa, Lalitha Sundaresan, N.Ramani

slider-single crystal resizedThe rise of China as a global economic and military power has resulted in a lot of attention being paid to China’s ability to innovate. Emerging Chinese capabilities in science and in technology are increasingly seen as a route for the transformation of China from a follower country to a global leader in innovation. This study looks at one technology – single crystal technology for making aircraft turbine blades – that is critical for improving the performance of a modern jet engine that powers advanced aircraft.

It tries to assess China’s ability to use this knowledge in the production of aircraft engines that then fly on airplanes. In making this assessment we chose to compare the Chinese effort with what had happened in the US – the pioneer of this innovation.

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So That A Nuclear Weapon Free World Can Come To Be: Putting Nuclear Weapons to Politco-Diplomatic Use

Author: Ambassador Saurabh Kumar

slider-nuclear weapons free worldThis NIAS Working Paper is an edited version of the inputs contributed to the Informal Group on the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan (RGAP) for a Nuclear Weapon Free and Non-Violent World set up in December last under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar.

This paper is an offering in response to the question “what can be done to actualise the vision of the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan” (for a world without nuclear weapons) that challenged the ‘Informal Group on the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for a Nuclear Weapon Free and Non-Violent World’ as it began its deliberations.

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Iran’s Safir Launch Vehicle

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

Iran Safir Launch VehicleIran demonstrated its core launch vehicle technology capabilities, when it orbited its Omid satellite on the night of February 02, 2009 on board its indigenously developed launch vehicle Safir 2. The launch images confirm the first stage pedigree with the North Korean Nodong missile. The fin shape, the jet vane control system and the exhaust plume signature of the Nodong and Safir first stage are quite similar. 

Observation of the Safir launch vehicle images indicated that the diameter of the second stage is the same as the first stage which can easily be converted into a two stage missile. Using the derived values of stage and propellant masses and assuming a 1000 kg warhead, the achieved range works out to 2400 km. This would enable Iran to target all parts of the Middle East, parts of Europe and certainly large parts of India from a south eastern location.

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