By Gary Milhollin
India and Pakistan, fresh from testing nuclear devices, are poised to build missiles that could deliver the bomb deep into each other's territory. The United States deplores these developments, but along with other countries, stands guilty of supplying much of the necessary technology.
In fact, India's next generation of nuclear missiles will probably be designed with the help of American-made equipment.
U.S. officials say that in 1996, Digital Equipment Corp. shipped a supercomputer to the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, a key missile research site. Supercomputers are the most powerful tools known for designing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. They can model the thrust of a rocket, calculate the heat and pressure on a warhead entering the Earth's atmosphere and simulate virtually every other force affecting a missile from launch to impact. Because of the billions of computations needed to solve these problems, a supercomputer's speed is invaluable for efficiently finding design solutions.
The DEC computer will come in handy at the Indian Institute of Science. The institute is on the British government's official list of organizations that procure goods and technology for India's missile programs. It develops India's most advanced rocket propellants, guidance systems and nose cones. Its wind tunnels and other equipment analyze rocket fuel combustion and flight performance. It has even been linked in published reports to India's new nuclear-capable missile called the "Sagarika," intended to be launched from submarines.