Challenges in Nuclear Posture and Deterrence from India’s Perspective

Author: Sharma, Amit1

Published in National Security Journal, 24 December 2021

DOI: 10.36878/nsj20211224.04  

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Abstract

South Asia comprises eight countries, among which India and Pakistan are two nuclear weapon powers marked by strained relations. Within this dynamic, this essay examines India’s nuclear path, in spite of its staunch support for a nuclear-weapon-free world. It covers Pakistan’s nuclear journey through proliferation and the logic for it to perpetrate state-sponsored terrorism against India, arguing that this serves as a major factor that could lead to war. Despite this potential, it also explains why South Asia is not the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world. In addition to India and Pakistan, five other nuclear nations are present in the region, namely China, Russia, Israel, North Korea and the United States. As such, this essay discusses positive and negative effects of each of these powers on nuclear dynamics of the region. It concludes with recommendations for fostering strategic stability in South Asia.

Keywords: South Asia, Terrorism, Nuclear Flashpoint, Strategic Stability

Introduction

South Asia comprises eight countries among which only two are nuclear-armed states, namely India and Pakistan. Relations between these two countries have been strained from their independence in 1947, two years after the atomic age dawned upon the world with the US use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki.1 Having seen the devastation that had taken place, Indian leaders felt that these weapons were not for warfighting as they brought only destruction. However, even though India always stood for a nuclear-weapons-free world, it became a nuclear-armed state in 1998.2 Weasponisation sation was not because of political considerations or national prestige. The only touchstone that guided it was national security. This essay will explore challenges to nuclear posture and deterrence to better understand strategic dynamics in South Asia.

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1 Lieutenant General (retired) Amit Sharma, Indian Army, former Commander in Chief of India’s Strategic Forces Command.