Book review essay: The challenge of nuclear terror (Sitakanta Mishra)

Intro

1. The danger of radicalism and misuse of technology leading to use of nuc material or weapons by trts is of grave concern. Today the threat of global nuc war is near impossible but what alarms all nations is the probable slippage of radiological mtrls into hands of rogue non-state actors. Nuc terrorism is an emerging challenge for the world incl India and hence all measures to prevent the same need to be examined and revamped.

Credentials of Author

2. Sitakanta Mishra is a research associate with Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi and has earlier been research assistant with the Indian Pugwash Society, New Delhi. He has also been associated with the Foreign Affairs General of Cambridge University Press, New Delhi.

Theme

3. Genre. The book contains two chapters and six appces. It illustrates the topic that is topical; of interest to both mil and non-mil readers and which could be of value to achieve national obj of nuc mtrl safety and security. The views in the book are supported by facts by use of vast bibliography and extensive research of the subject.

4. Plausibility of Premise. Though not very flashy and colourful, the book generates interest as it provides a detailed acct of the facets of nuc terrorism. It distinctly analysis the threat, the measures in place and improvement reqd esp in Indian context towards security and safety of nuc mtrl.

Content

5. Layout. The book has been well written and is presented in a logical manner making it easy to comprehend. The book can be summarised as follows:-

(a) It explores the nuances of the global discourse in the light of the emergence of non-state actors with an expressed interest in ‘Terrorism by means of Wpns of Mass Destr’. Post ‘Cold War’ era the world is mov from a ph of security by nuc wpns to security of nuc wpns, mtrl and technologies. The amt of effort and recourses reqd for keeping the nuc wpns safe and secure is much more than the amt of actual security they provide in today’s environment of ‘Strat Surprise and Strat Uncertainty’.

(b) The author showcases the phenomenon of nuc terrorism. It assesses the probability, consequence and preparedness of the world to deal with emerging nuc dynamics. In the process, he re-examines the conventional arguments of deterrence theory and proposes a neo-deterrence framework. The author also examines in detl the ‘Why, Who & How’ of nuc terrorism in and around the subcontinent, the geographical distr of nuc facilities vis-??-vis the existence of trt belts, motivation and op capabilities of various such gps.

(c) The study also considers the probability of a nuc terror incident in India and preparedness to deal with such an incident. The motives and capabilities of trts op in the subcontinent or outside to undertake an act of nuc terror are examined vis-??-vis the security arng in place. It looks into the physical and the in-built safety structures of Indian nuc facilities as well as the legal procedures in place to handle such an eventuality.

(d) The risk and vulnerabilities to the Indian nuc infrastructure is assessed in light of changing modus operandi of trts. The author also recoms relevant addl measures to strengthen efforts in order to effectively meet the possible challenge of nuc terror.

(e) Appces. Appces I to IV incl UN Resolution 1540 of yr 2004, US-Russia agreements on prot of nuc mtrl and mgt of used Plutonium.
Appx V gives out Indian legal act and Appx VI portrays map of Dept of Atomic Energy (DAE) locs in India and diagrams of various facilities & eqpt relating to emer nuc response.

Verdict

6. Language & Style. The book is written in a simple language, not flowery and keeps in consonance with the gravity of the subject. Rather than delivering a theoretical monologue, the author has chosen to put fwd his views with examples, stating facts and figures. The author has made apt use of sit and examples to explain the topics.

7. Production Value, Paper Quality & Printing. The printing is neat and clear with the use of approp font. The paper quality is of normal std; however, coloured diagrams could have been used to enhance the aesthetic value of the book.

8. Critic. The topics within the book have been illustrated with repetitive explanations. For ease of understanding only the jist of Appces could have been given rather than full resolution / legal framework verbatim.

9. In summation, it is an easy to read, comprehensive book, presenting a tremendous amt of inter-related info in very few pages that helps the reader to understand the subject.

Publisher :- KW Publishers Pvt Ltd in Association with Centre for Air Warfare Studies, 2008
Lib Book Ref No. :- 35816

Source: Essay UK - http://xbmm43.com/essays/english-literature/book-review-essay-the-challenge-of-nuclear-terror-sitakanta-mishra/


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