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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Indian Nuclear Strategy” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Indian Nuclear Strategy

India demonstrated its nuclear capability on May 18, 1974, when it conducted the first nuclear test in Pokhran—a desert area in Rajasthan some 350 miles away from New Delhi. Technically, India then became the world’s sixth nuclear power. However, because of international pressure, particularly from the United States (US) and Canada, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was then believed to have bitten off more than she could chew regarding nuclear weapons. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was caught unawares of the Indian tests. The test was then described as a Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE) by India. But few were willing to buy this explanation. It was also considered as being against the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); but since India had not signed the NPT, it was not strictly in violation of any international treaties.

After 24 years, India surprised the world once again by conducting three nuclear tests on Buddha Poornima Day—May 11, 1998. One was a plutonium type similar to the 1974 test. Another was a thermonuclear or hydrogen bomb, and the third one was a low yield device with a wider application—primarily a tactical weapon. All three devices were triggered by one pull.

Two days later, on May 13, 1998, another two weapons were tested at Pokhran. These tests gave Indian scientists up-to-date knowledge on the latest developments in weaponisation of nuclear technology, including an ability to conduct sub-critical tests or testing by computer simulation in the laboratory.

Western nations in general, and the US in particular, had always considered India’s nuclear weapons programme as less advanced. Naturally, scientist in the West began to doubt the claims of Indian scientists, particularly the Indian claim of having tested a thermonuclear device, and the level of sophistication and yield of the tests. But Anil Kakodkar, Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, said that the thermonuclear device was limited in yield to 43 to 45 kilotons, so that seismic disturbances do not affect nearby villages. But the total yield of all the tests was claimed by Indian scientists as 58 kilotons. This claim also was disputed by the American journal Science by stating that the total yield of the Indian tests was between 9 to 16 kilotons.

Reaction of Nuclear Weapon States (NWS)

India’s declaration of itself as a nuclear weapon state was seen by the Western powers as an effort on its part to emerge as a major power. The American policy makers were particularly sharp in advising India that there is no linkage between major power status and the possession of nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, the point has not been missed amongst the observers of international relations that it is non-possession of nuclear weapons that is a factor responsible for the secondary status of Japan and Germany. As a matter of fact, it is the American fear of the likely nuclear weaponisation by Germany and Japan that made the US in the first instance, react strongly against the Indian nuclear tests. Japan was against the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. It wants a rapid end of nuclear weapons under Article VI of the NPT.

Indian Compulsions

Then what compelled India to go nuclear against the “international trend?” First, it was China’s growing assertion of power in South and South-East Asia. What China claims was the international environment in which it faced a two-pronged threat to its national security in the 1960s, was similar to the national security environment in the 1990s faced by India. China has been a potential security threat ever since its aggression against India in October 1962. But this threat perception has sharpened since the end of the Cold War.

Second, Pakistan has been a perennial threat to Indian security under its goal of completing the partition process on the basis of religious identity. Thus, it had launched war thrice against India over Kashmir—once in 1947-48, the second time in 1965 and finally in 1971. The disastrous consequences of the separation of East Pakistan into the independent, so. sovereign state of Bangladesh, made it think in terms of revenge for its defeat in 1971.

All its decisions in international relations regarding the nuclear bomb have been related to India. The best illustrations are: “If India signs the NPT, it will sign;” or “If India signs the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), it too will sign.” For the first time in 1994, the-then interim Prime Minister, after the dismissal of Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister, admitted Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons.

Third, Sino-Pakistani collusion and collaboration in not only the latter’s development of nuclear weapons and missile production, but their general security and diplomatic cooperation was aimed against India. Pakistan was aided by China in its pursuit of nuclear capability on the principle that an enemy’s enemy is a friend. This collaboration between the two nations only increased after the end of the Cold War. The collaboration was also extended in the development of missile technology.

Fourth, that US—the global policeman—did very little since 1993 to ensure that Pakistan and China adhered to the NPT and its own creation, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), under which any nation producing its own missile system was expected to restrain from transferring missile technology to another nation.

Fifth, in a worst case scenario, the US nuclear weapons in their Indian Ocean base in Diego Garcia are also a serious threat to Indian security. Alluding to threats to Indian security, I.K. Gujral, while he was the PM, had very elaborately underlined the security environment around India. The US is also mainly responsible for the May 1995 indefinite extension of the NPT. This legitimized the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons by the five NWS who also are the permanent members of the UN.

Sixth, there was the need to extricate India from the muddled waters of past rhetoric over the CTBT. The Indian insistence from the beginning was nuclear disarmament. India had joined the US in co-sponsoring the CTBT in the UN General Assembly. But the US officials from the beginning were looking at it as another measure towards nuclear non-proliferation. However, India could have come out of the negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) as early as in November 1995, if not earlier, instead of waiting till June 20, 1996, because, in a speech in Georgetown University in November 1995, then Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) John Holum had made very clear that the aim of the CTBT is to prevent India from acquiring nuclear weapons, when he said:

In view of the Indian refusal to sign the CTBT as passed by the UN General Assembly as it was discriminatory, non-comprehensive and not a nuclear disarmament measure, India could not wait to decide on the next step indefinitely, provided it was keen on retaining the nuclear option—something every Prime Minister spoke about since Mrs. Gandhi, but which could not be held up indefinitely.

India is not a banana republic which can be moulded to suit international needs as the big powers perceive it. India has its own strength of history and culture and almost a billion people cannot be ordered to forego their nuclear option, particularly when surrounded by powerful nuclear weapon states.

However, it is pertinent to state that a nation does not act over a potential security threat when it actually materialists—the entire security scenario is built upon the anticipation of threat and being prepared to meet it.

A 2020-Perspective

Some important ingredients of strategic policy can be underscored here. To begin with, India will continue to emphasise—in the next twenty years—from a position of strength, global nuclear disarmament. Unlike the US, which till the end of the Cold War believed that a limited nuclear war is thinkable and winnable, India looks at the nuclear weapons as the weapons of ultimate defence. Even after acquisition of nuclear weapons, Indian strategy is not based on the use of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, India now sees that it can speak on nuclear disarmament more authoritatively. However, in pursuit of global disarmament, we need to change our approach: instead of total disarmament, in the beginning, we need only move step by step towards that goal.

India has already offered to sign such a treaty with Pakistan which has rejected the proposal by declaring it as “self serving.” It sees nuclear weapons as a “credible deterrence “in view of India’s conventional superiority.” Russia’s predecessor state, the Soviet Union, and China had announced during the Cold War their commitment to no-first use of nuclear weapons. But after the end of the Cold War, Russia and China have been ambiguous on the issue. Hence, a successful conclusion of a no-first strike treaty will greatly reduce the threat of nuclear war.

The second policy strand relates to halting of production of fissile materials essential for nuclear weapons. India needs to agree on a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) with certain precautions. Even on the FMCT, the US could take India for a ride by pressurising it to stop production of fissile materials even before the treaty is negotiated and signed. This again, could be a ploy on the part of the US to help Pakistan achieve parity with India in possession of fissile material.

Third, India needs to concentrate to make its nuclear weapons invulnerable to a first strike with nuclear weapons either by Pakistan or China or jointly by them. In this respect, not only development of the medium range missile– Agni—is essential but also it needs to focus on its perfection to the extent that at least half of the missiles fired will hit the target within a radius of a mile or two. To make nuclear weapons invulnerable to first strike, we have developed nuclear submarines ‘INS Arihant’ on July 2009.

Fourth, there is the case of deployment versus non-deployment of nuclear weapons to be decided. India will deploy nuclear weapons against China but not against Pakistan. This is because, even if China is our potential security threat in the sense of its threatening ambition to be a superpower and make India play second fiddle to it, it is unlikely to use nuclear weapons against India, as a rational decision maker. However, this does not preclude it from using them as blackmail which can, of course, now be checked because it knows India too has nuclear weapons.

Fifth, India needs to develop a system of command and control over the nuclear weapons. The ultimate decision to use the nuclear weapons will have to rest with the Prime Minister. But in a worst case scenario, there is a need to clearly lay down the alternate line ‘of control in the event of conflict escalating into a war. Similarly, if New Delhi is made dysfunctional by enemy bombing, from where will the command and control operate? How do you carry nuclear weapons to enemy targets? Will you use aircraft or missiles or submarines or use the tactical nuclear weapons? In other words, it is also necessary to resolve the question of inter-service rivalry over the possession of nuclear weapons. Since all three services may have to be provided with nuclear weapons, creation of a Chief of Defence Staff assumes additional urgency.

Sixth, India also will have to develop or acquire, in the next 20 years, necessary protective safety systems for nuclear weapons. There is also a need to take steps to prevent triggering of any accidental war; simultaneously taking confidence building measures between India and its two adversaries on the borders in the north.

Seventh, in the next 20 years, however, India will not be able to reduce the size of its armed forces because of acquisition of nuclear weapons-though eventually that is a possibility—as the threat to India’s security Will continue to arise from Pakistan, mainly through low intensity conflict ( LIC) in fulfilment of the religiously emotive issue of the incomplete partition process in Kashmir.

Eighth, Indian strategic policy needs to be backed by a well-conceived diplomatic posture for the future. It will be a prudent policy for India to cultivate cordial relations with countries which feel threatened by the expansionist policies of China. The way in which the US has conducted its policy towards China in the months prior to and after Bill Clinton’s summit meeting with Jiang Zemin in June 1998, shows that Japan increasingly, might feel threatened. Hence, despite Japan following in the US steps to criticise India for its nuclear tests, India needs to open immediately a strategic dialogue with Japan.

Ninth, India will have to maintain a steady economic growth to sustain an estimated expenditure of at least Rs. 1,000 crore or more in the next ten years to put nuclear deterrence in place. This will need India to continue to maintain its GDP growth at a minimum of 7 to 8 per cent per annum in the next two decades.

Tenth, India also needs to highlight the possibilities of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Islamic terrorists in the Indian. subcontinent as well as in the Middle East. US Senator Patrick Moynihan characterized the Pakistani bomb as an “Islamic bomb” and apprehended that finally it “will inevitably be pointed at the Middle East.”

Eleventh, India needs to device ways and means to secure a stable government, as the political instability that the nation has witnessed ever since 1989 cannot be conducive to peace and stability in the nation’s strategic policy. Only then can the political parties develop a non-partisan approach to the nation’s foreign policy and security.

Finally, India needs to cultivate different segments of the American ruling elite through public diplomacy. In the highly fragmented system of politics and administration in the US, a large number of politicians and opinion leaders had taken a pro-India stand when India exploded nuclear weapons. We need to remember that their pro-India stand is not because of their acceptance of our compulsions in going nuclear—it is so more because of their internal dynamics of party politics. We need to strengthen our ties with such segments of American politics, including the India caucus in Congress. We need to identify such politicians and develop bipartisan support for India. While the Democrats have been strong on their advocacy of non-proliferation, the Republicans have been less vigorous on the issue. We need to watch whether a Republican dominated Senate will eventually vote to ratify the CTBT without which the .treaty cannot be binding on the US.

If not, it not only provides some more breathing time for Indian policy makers, but also greater hope for being accepted as a NWS.

It is the sovereign right of India to decide whether its security compulsions warrant going in for nuclear weapons as an ultimate shield, notwithstanding the opinion of the Western nations. The opposition of the US and other developed nations appears to be totally self-serving when one looks at the actions of these very powers which advise India to desist from possessing nuclear weapons.

Hence, the pursuit of the above strategic policy, will not only make India by 2020 a major power in the global politics and economy but also a permanent member of the UN Security Council fulfilling Nehru’s dream expressed in 1954 in the Lok Sabha that “if nothing goes wrong, like wars—the fourth major power next to US, Russia and China is India.” India needs to develop self-confidence and as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam very aptly observed, begin to think in terms of making India a developed nation in the 21st century. A strong and stable India will be a force for peace not only in South Asia, but in the world as well.

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