Nuclear weapons and Indian security

The history of India’s nuclear weapons development shows that it is a reluctant to possess them. Despite serious security concerns ranging from the Chinese threat in the 1960s to the current threats from Pakistan and China, India’s nuclear programme has evolved slowly and is restricted today to unassembled and un-deployed weapons. Its reluctant acquiring of nuclear weapons reflects the relatively low salience of nuclear weapons in India’s overall security concerns as well as a strategic culture that views nuclear weapons as political rather than operational instruments of national security. This political conception of nuclear weapons offers the advantages of resistance to arms racing and conduciveness to arms control. But there is a negative side. India has attempted (unsuccessfully) to use its capability to back an attempt to exercise pressure against Pakistan, and has not as yet shown a clear-cut appreciation of the incongruence between its minimum deterrence doctrine and its open-ended and operationally oriented weapons development programme. On the balance, while nuclear risks remain, there is room for optimism because the Indian leadership has been able to override its strategic tensions with China and is attempting to do so with Pakistan. – Summary AFRI-2004